“This place is for girls,” said my friend when we sat down in Mamie Gateaux.
She’s right, or at least the demographics of the room would seem to say as much: On my last visit, there were 30 people having lunch or waiting to eat at Mamie Gateaux, and only 3 were men (sound familiar?). It’s a girly, grandmotherly place, for sure: Brocante bric-a-brac and bon bons line the walls along with antiques from an imaginary auntie.
The specialties here are cakes and tarts, sweet and savory, and the baker behind them is not some mythical grandmère, but Mariko Duplessis, a Japanese woman who worked at Dalloyau in Tokyo before relocating to Paris with her French husband. The salon de thé opened in 2003, and their little empire on this stretch of rue du Cherche Midi now includes a boutique and brocante, where one can buy the afforementioned bric-a-brac and bon bons.
At lunch, have a tarte salé (think quiche) like the zucchini and goat cheese, an interesting cheddar and cumin combo, or classic leek. A well dressed grated carrot salad and a small pile of greens fool you into thinking you’re eating something light.
(Light can be kind of hard to find in these parts, where they play fast and loose with the word “salad”. The “salad” I had for lunch at a nearby café the other day was mostly ham.)
Should you make a special trip to Mamie Gateaux? Probably not, but do go if you’re in the area. Is this lunch going to blow your mind? No, but I can’t imagine any quiche that would have that effect. Anyway, I don’t go to Mamie Gateaux to have a culinary epiphany; I go when I’m in the neighborhood, because it’s very good, uncomplicated, will not make me feel the need to fast for days, and requires neither loads of time nor money (you can get out of Mamie in well under and hour for well under €15). Dessert will raise the price a bit, but you should have dessert, particularly if the chestnut cake is available.
Plus, aren’t these cherry suckers adorable?
Across town, in a decidedly different kind of space, is Tartes Kluger. It’s a similar concept, relying mostly on an oven, but here it’s housed in an impeccable, cave-like space, an ancient boulangerie scrubbed clean and whitewashed.
The tartes are savory or sweet and can be eaten sur place or picked up at the broad counter that borders the spacious open kitchen and taken home. We sat at one of two communal tables and my friend had a delicious, creamy ham and parmesan tart baked in a poppyseed shell and I had a comparatively ascetic pea and tarragon tart. I envied her choice, and wished there were cheese in mine. The salad of delicate greens, self-served from a big bowl, was splendid, but I will never understand why any restaurant would serve a pile of unripe tomatoes, ever. We strongly considered the rhubarb and rice pudding tart for dessert, but went with chocolate and didn’t regret it.
Tartes Kluger might not merit a special trip either, though I will surely return when I’m in the neighborhood. It’s likely enough. The other thing these two addresses have in common is proximity to another activity that many women seem to like: Shopping.
Mamie Gateaux, Salon de Thé, Boutique, and Brocante, 66 rue due Cherche Midi, 75006 Paris, closed Sundays and Mondays website
Tartes Kluger 6 rue du Forez, 75003 Paris, +33 (0)1 53 01 53 53 website