There is in rue Oberkampf in Paris 11th arrondissement, an institution going strong since 1863, that does not look much from the outside, but is definitely worth the trip. As a matter of fact, just by the small entrance to the Nouveau Casino de Paris, and then, just across Chez Justine and PNY, the discreet Café Charbon has been treating local people for over a century.
Although it is not the façade of the Café Charbon – yet featuring a terrace – that one sees the most in the hustle and bustle of this lively street, yet, one shall not hesitate and enter the Café Charbon, because behind the door hide many surprises.
Founded by the Bougnats, the brasserie balances between tradition and modernity. In its original state, the place enjoys a very-high ceiling and has kept the remnants of a former era. The ceilings are yellowed by the smoke from when one was allowed to smoke in restaurants. The zinc bar – uneven and used by time – is still there. but besides, the Café Charbon which space under the mezzanine (where a DJ mixes on some evenings) alludes to a saloon and has been recently renovated. From now on, many plants and especially big lamps hang from the ceiling. But despite them, the place is still cozy, rather intimate because the light is still soft.
What is new at the Café Charbon is the menu as well. Chef Nathan Paisley brushes up the brasserie classics with a nice twist of world’s cuisine. As his father comes from Cambodia, Paisley is highly influenced by the Asian food. And he brilliantly mixes tradition and modernity in his plates.
On the menu of the Café Charbon, he currently serves cold cuts (beef Cecina, Gascon black pork ham…), beef gyozas or even zaalouk, focaccia and spicy eggplant mash. As well as a croque-monsieur, strong in mustard, with Comté cheese and Prince de Paris ham.
Moving on to fish, enjoy grilled squid and the flavorsome tuna tataki and ponzu/yuzu sauce, or the tasty stone bass ceviche with passion fruit, and spicy shrimp fritters.
The chicken satay (marinated chicken grilled over charcoal, like the eggplant), and the squash risotto with grilled chestnut and parmesan, finish to convince us about the chef’s talent.
Moving on to dessert, we definitely fall in love with the mango sticky rice. And we would have loved to take more of it.
At the Café Charbon, everything is homemade, based on fresh ingredients selected from small producers, from the croque-monsieur bread to the gyoza dough.
And good news for people who have a sudden craving, the service is non-stop from noon to 11 p.m., seven days a week.
The Café Charbon is also a cocktail list changing four times a year. At the moment, the barman chef serves a very sweet porn star martini with passion fruit and vanilla, freshened up by a shot of champagne – among classics such as the Old Fashioned.
We promise we will never walk by the Café Charbon without stopping ever again. What about you?
Alcohol abuse is bad for your health, please drink responsibly.
Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health, please drink responsibly.
This test was conducted as part of a professional invitation. If your experience differs from ours, please mention it in the comments.
Le Café Charbon
109, Rue Oberkampf
75011 Paris 11
Cocktails: €10 - €13