une belle horizontale….

Of the phrases that exemplify the quality of French as a diplomatic language few can compare with “belle horizontale” as a well turned euphemism for an “expensive tart” and there is no doubt that the eponymous Tarte au Citron Cartet, the subject of this piece, is as  belle a horizontale as one could wish into which to sink one’s teeth. Cartet, as a restaurant, is a myth…an unknown venue which does not even display its name, save on the awning should it be wound out. There are no menus on display and the door is always locked. Madame Cartet, the celebrated owner and chef, is long gone but the new owner continues her tradition. As I, to my great disappointment, have never yet visited Cartet I have copied and printed below the report of one who has:
There is a name on the awning, but in the windows flanking the door, meant to hold menus, or anywhere else, is there any evidence that it is a restaurant. Including the locked door. As we began to turn away despite a reserved table, it was unlocked for us, then relocked behind us, lest some unreserved guest have the temerity to try for a table. One older couple and a table set for two reserved for us. The other 18 places empty. When asked, the chef replied that he serves “as few as he can”. He was charming, friendly and everywhere at once, doing everything. The menu is broader than one would expect for four covers, and not everything was available. This isn’t exactly a private chef, but neither did it evoke the awkwardness of an empty restaurant waiting for guests. It was unusual, as in never before, but fun. Again? Probably to show off, but we’ve seen the film.
Terrine for every table. Fresh and good. Magret, thinly sliced with orange sauce, veal chop with morels in cream sauce. Both served with a double portion of irresistible potato cake. Entrees, salade with lardons, morels (again) on toasted brioche with a different cream sauce.
Desserts: All of them put on the table: chocolate mousse, lemon tart, rice pudding, floating island, flan…
Gracious and personal
Price: Very high. With two glasses of wine, one water (10€!) and two coffees, 232€.

This is as close to my ideal restaurant as I can imagine. I share the chef’s preference of serving as few people as possible indeed, cooking for than 6 people changes one of my most enjoyable activities into a toilsome purgatory. However, if the empty 18 places in the restaurant were filled with good friends then it would indeed be the very best place in which to enjoy eating and drinking outside of my home.

Cartet,  52 rue de Malte75011 Paris, France

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2014, 2017, Baking, Cooking, creme fraiche, desserts, Digital photography, Eggs, France, Humour, Lemon tart, lemons, Paris, Patricia Wells, Photography, photography course, Recipes, tart, tarte au citron cartet, tarte au citron cartet, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to une belle horizontale….

  1. I adore the idea of serving as few as possible – enabling the chef to be so present. love this tart – very simple- and surely delightful – I will make it at home in nz when I can just go into the garden a pick a few lemons and my children will eat it all up with relish.. i hope you are well – winter is coming – so i also hope your woodshed is full – c

  2. Mad Dog says:

    That’s the kind of restaurant I’d like to run. In reality, cooking for the public can be a complete PITA.
    …and what a beautiful tart – Tarte au Citron is my kind of pudding – it looks suitably sophisticated, though probably not as expensive as a belle horizontale!

  3. This reminds me of the small family run restaurants in Belgium. Amazing food and never rushed.

  4. Ardys says:

    It reminds me of a lovely woman and her husband, Lily and Henri, from the Alsace region who settled in the tropical north of Australia many years ago. They ran a very small restaurant with a simple menu that was always the same–very good, and expensive in those days. In fact if she could not get the produce that met her standards, she would ring everyone who had booked a table (only 8 tables) and tell them she would not be opening that night. Also, you had to eat things in the order in which she deemed appropriate. She was renowned for her standards and charm, as long as you did things her way. The recipe sounds extremely good, alas I simply can’t eat the pastry any longer, more’s the pity. Enjoyed the post.

  5. Thank you for your delicious post, Roger, it brought back memories from like 40 years ago, at the Cote D’Azur, having dinner at little restaurant, where we found ourselves the only customers. Different kind of pate’s, incredible main dishes served by the chef-owner, deserts and an amazing plate of cheeses made locally, of course the sound of Edith Piaf’s voice added to the candle set up intimate atmosphere. Well the bill wasn’t as pleasant as the dinner, but we were camping therefore a good budget left for enjoying delicious dinners. Your tart sounds delicate and easy, thank you for sharing the recipe. Bon nuit or bon jour, Roger.

  6. Eha says:

    Good Morning, Roger! Trust you to make even a lemon tart sound wickedly sexy 🙂 ! Oh, my favourite always has been eight around the table, well, perchance ten . . . . then it is really worth the time to prepare all the extra touches . . .the stocks, the sauces, the pates and terrines . . . . cannot imagine a table without candles and my Edith Piaf vinyl is still reached for often . . . or Zarah Leander . . . So, so, so glad for your reverse air conditioning as an early Christmas present . . .I can see the smile now when Mr Frost arrives outdoors . . .

  7. Love Patrica Wells’s Bistrot Cooking – my copy is getting quite dog-eared!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.