Now that I'm a thousand kilometres or so away from work and it's cold and dark outside, it seems like a good chance to catch up on some of the blog posts I've been meaning to write for a while now. This one is about a restaurant that my friend and I went to a couple of weeks ago called Le Refuge des Fondus, on the Rue des Trois Frères in Montmartre.
There are a few things that make this restaurant a little bit different. Some are good, some are bad and some are just a bit odd.
The restaurant only serves fondue. You can have cheese or meat and it comes as part of a set menu that also includes nice aperitif-type nibbles, such as salami and cheese, and wine. Thus there are only two questions the waiter needs to ask you: “Meat or cheese?” and “Red or white?” This is probably a good thing, as ours seemed very taciturn and had a somewhat incomprehensible accent. As well as serving the food, however, the waiter also has the job of helping 50% of the customers to climb across the tables, which are arranged in long rows against the wall. This means that you end up sitting very close to your neighbours and creates a kind of mountain hut atmosphere, which is quite good fun, especially if the people sitting next to you turn out to be nice. We had a group of American study-abroad students, followed by some Belgians. (Hardly anybody in the restaurant was French.)
We went for the meat fondue, mostly just to have a change from cheese. There was lots of it, and it was also served with potatoes and some particularly delicious bread. The “fondue” part was really just hot oil that you used to cook your own meat in. We experimented with the potatoes too, but they tended to disintegrate. Overall, it was pretty good, but I would probably go for cheese next time because I like it better and, although the meat seemed quite good quality, it came out very greasy.
The weirdest thing, though, was the wine. For some reason, they serve it in baby bottles. I found drinking wine through what was essentially a rubber nipple a little bit off putting, so I unscrewed the lid and drank from the bottle, but most people seemed to manage, and it was nice wine once it wasn't being filtered through rubber.
The restaurant was a fun place to eat, but I woke up in the middle of the night with a pounding headache and stomach cramps, and that would put me off recommending it wholeheartedly, but my friend was fine, so maybe I just drank too much wine or didn't cope with all the oil very well. So, if you want somewhere different for a meal out in Montmartre, give Le Refuge des Fondues a try, but at your own risk!