…a small, modern, recently opened canteen situated on the fringe of the Marais in the easy-to-miss Rue de Forez. The full name is Tartes Kluger which makes it an easy guess what you will find here: tarts, yes, magnificent cakes made of peas and thyme, beans and nuts, more classic pieces like a jambon-fromage-béchamel variation, and there’s sweet things, too. I didn’t have any of them but I saw people around me shovelling in great looking chunks of chocolate and cheese cakes – and the people around, by the way, were mostly women, 9 out of 10.
Why? I can tell you why: Tartes Kluger is quite the opposite of the steak frites or tartare frites menu many Parisian bistros still serve. Further, it is the opposite of that sweaty guys-cracking-dirty-jokes-movie many bistrots still show. But they are doomed to fail. Just two days ago newspaper Le Parisien published shocking new figures about their decline: In 2009, almost 2000 bistrots were closed down in Paris and its surroundings alone. In the whole of France two bistrots go bankrupt every single day, and for them, as you can imagine, there is no government bail-out available…
Let’s stay realistic though: many of these bistrots weren’t forced to close because they were serving great food in a good atmosphere. Truth is that many of those, and others I visit every now and then serve in fact terrible food, disgusting wine and all served by waiters who are proud to be rude. Not so tempting, actually.
That’s why Tartes Kluger is a concept for the future. It’s a clean, sober space where people share two long tables like a big family (but without the grumpy father). They’re coming together during lunchtime, having some food and some fun, and that’s it. It’s not cuisine, it’s food. General setting is casual, old hierarchies are abandoned: there’s no entrée, main course, dessert logic, you simply order a plate and you get tarte, salad, soup prepared, of course, in an open kitchen. For the trio of tarte, salad, soup you’ll pay 9 Euros (12 USD) which is too cheap to be true. And I repeat it: the food is delicious.