Un Zèbre à Montmartre
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This easy-going bistro on the overcrowded Montmartre drag of Rue Lépic (to give you an idea, the street also hosts Les Deux Moulins, haunt of the area’s doe-eyed poster girl Amélie Poulain) isn’t quite as out of place on the charming cobbled streets as a real zebra would be, but it’s still a noteworthy address for some unstudied local colour and seriously well-priced food amid the many tourist traps. Sure, the chalkboard menus are in English and the bar supports as many beer-swilling Germans as it does wine-quaffing Frenchmen, but the cheery shabbiness, brisk service and vast plates of food have that warm touch of authenticity that makes you settle back into your seat with a relieved sigh.
We started with coarse chicken liver pâté and melon and country ham, both workmanlike and big enough to serve as mains, with huge handfuls of bread and salad. The next round showed more panache, though no less generosity – a heavy chunk of beef slow-braised ‘á la Lyonnaise’ with onions, and a fantastic dish of duck with grapes, honey and grappa – the dark rich meat strong enough to work with the sweetness of the sauce. The bill for all this without drinks (there’s your average selection of beers, wines and spirits) was some €40, representing almost unbeatable value for a restaurant meal in this area.
In summer, there’s a little cluster of tables out on the street that’s so perfect for people-watching. In chillier months, the interior is all dark wood and red banquettes, with the occasional splash of zebra references (a mosaic in the toilets) rather than any overwhelming expanses of striped hide. Comfortable, unpretentious, cheerful and cheap – on Rue Lepic, that’s quite a find.