15 rue Roger
M° Denfert-Rochereau or M° Gaité
Tel: 01 43 22 77 52
A Quest for Brunch in the 14th
Review by Sue Nally
The recent Yves Saint Laurent exhibit caused quite a stir on a cold weekend in February. Thousands of Parisians waited in line to pay homage to one of the last great art collections of our time. I was intrigued enough to give it a shot, but after an hour in the chilly morning temps and the prospect of an additional three hours in line at the Grand Palais, my stomach made an executive decision to abandon ship and head out for brunch.
Not such an easy thing in Paris. My companions and I hopped on the metro line 13 to Pernety to try our luck in the residential 14th. Having lived in New York City, “neighborhoody” for me usually equals “good brunch possibilities,” or so I thought. But this is Paris, and sadly, with many cafes serving only croissants, and most restaurants not open till noon, the 11:00 hour can be a no-man’s land in certain Parisian neighborhoods.
After several fermé signs, and one knarcky waitress who deigned to offer three rumbling stomachs the morning’s last stale croissant, it was looking grim.
Our quest continued westward to Rue Daguerre, a pedestrian zone known for its food market and many eateries. There had to be something here. Just as despair was setting in, we spotted Le Quinze’s sidewalk tent down the Rue Roger stating Sunday Brunch and nearly fell over ourselves with relief.
Le Quinze’s owner, Mr. Cavalan, greeted us with a warm smile and led us past the small front room where guests sipped their java at the tiny sunlit bar, or in movie-theater seats in front of picture windows. We were seated in the back room overlooking an ivy-covered private mini-garden.
The decor was an artful blend of kitsch and cozy, trendy and traditional. White brick walls and wooden tables blended with slick white vinyl booths and metallic silver accents. Pop art shared wall space with Patti Smith concert posters while jazz provided a chilled Sunday morning soundtrack.
Our host chatted with us amiably in both French and English without even a glimmer of condescension or impatience.
So far so good, but how was the food?
Brunch is a pretty trendy affair in Paris, and the €20 menu (drink/dish/dessert), which may sound steep for ham and eggs, is on par with other Parisian restaurants. Happily, the quality of the food and service justified the price.
The brunch option L’Anglais (English style), features scrambled eggs, bacon, Heinz baked beans and tomatoes, while L’Continental aims for the health-conscious crowd, offering scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, potatoes in dill sauce, mushrooms and salad.
Additionally, you can order individually, brunch alone (€15), tasty pancakes with (real) maple syrup (€4), homemade blueberry muffins (€3), or white cheese with caramelized apples (€3,50).
Lingering is not unwelcome, as proven by the bottomless cup of café americaine or tea for €3,00 which was indeed refreshed à volonté and with a smile.
The ingredients tasted fresh and were artfully presented. What really sets this place apart, however, is the warmth of service. It’s a family-run business and the Sunday brunch is a new feature in 2009. Our host, Mr. Cavalan, explained that his wife and adult children all play a role at Le Quinze, a business he took up after retiring from another industry. Maybe that explained the genuine smiles, and pleasant chitchat. If you have been in Paris longer than two days, you know that is a quality to savor if you find it in a restaurant.
And while I can’t claim to know anything about wine (and heck, it was only 11am), my French dining companion’s eyes widened in appreciation at the house’s special selection of millésimes in addition to their regular wine list. It sparked a conversation where he learned that the rare vintage wines stem from the cellar of an astute family collector.
If you plan on sampling them, Happy Hour at Le Quinze is everyday from 6pm to 9pm where the cocktails are reduced from €8 to €5.
Sunday Brunch –11am to 3pm
Open 3:00 pm to 2 a.m.