Last night I joined a friend at a new-to-me Paris restaurant, Clover. (http://www.jeanfrancoispiege.com/fr/restaurants) It’s a recently opened, well reviewed, informal place created by a well known chef. The kind where you have to plan in advance to reserve and still are told you can come at 7:30 or at 9:30 pm. Always a full house.
Given that this is a tiny spot, full house means about 20 people. It’s a long rectangular room with seating on one side, with an open kitchen taking up about quarter of the space. With three servers, four in the kitchen and 18 guests the space was full but didn’t feel cramped.
Part way through the meal I realized it was quiet enough to easily converse with my friend across the table. Quiet I thought even though, as I looked around everyone seemed to be engaged in conversation. Even the people sitting next to us were talking but unless we were silent and strained to hear them, their conversation didn’t interrupt ours.
For someone from Los Angeles this was noteworthy. Fabulous actually. Accustomed as I am to restaurants so noisy that you’d best only go with one person so you can shout across the table and hope to be heard – it was a happy surprise.
It reminded me once again that one of the reasons I love Paris is the quiet. In a restaurant. On the metro. On the street. Conversations take place only between the parties involved. Seldom is someone shouting into a mobile phone and certainly not at dinner sitting next to you.
And how was the food you ask? Delicious. As lovely as the murmur of conversations up and down the room.