Sunday, January 24, 2010

refuge des fondus! the end of paris

last trip, while wandering around montmarte, we ran across a wild-looking restaurant with a circus weight-lifter cartooned across its front window. but it was closed!* so this visit, on our final night in paris, we headed to the abesses stop & wound through the kiss-close, steep streets. from the moment we opened the door into the cramped refuge des fondu we were in love! though i am not always a fan of spaces where strangers are slammed up against strangers, in this case the proximity--the hum of people talking & eating & drinking--was like a steady electricity. people were seated, end-to-end-family-style, along two narrow tables. after hanging our bulky coats, the waiter pulled out a seat, turned it sideways, grabbed my hand, & sent me flying up & over the table (in a dress!). this was accompanied by a roar of applause (as we were to learn, this happens whenever anyone travels over a table).

the menu is mercifully set (far too hard to order in such chaos!). to start with there's an amuse-gueule (cocktail)--sugar-rimmed and fruited, then an appetizer of meats, cheese, pickles, and spiced chou-fluer, followed by the hot enameled pot of fondue (meat or cheese) served with un-un-ending bread. to top this off we had a fruit bowl for dessert. yow. the meal also came with 2/3 a bottle of wine, served bottles! what?! we theorized that not only was it funnier to watch table-fulls of adults drink from bottles, but that there was less worry for spilling when a too-close elbow came in contact with your drink. we were cracking up from the get-go straight to the bill and even when were back out in freezing rain we were all fizz.

*while researching for our second trip, we came across jordan ferney's paris haunts and jaunts post and saw that she had listed this exact place as a must-see. if you haven't checked out her list, go go go.

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