Some places and experiences simply stand out
Sometimes we happen upon secret little corners of the world, which in each their unique way seem full of magic. Lucette’s restaurant in the 17th arondissement is such a corner full of magic, and it almost seems a disgrace to tell about it – but then again, this blog itself is a secret little corner of the world full of magic, so the secret will not get far.
I have been in Paris for a month and for the past week I have had the company of my stepfather who owns the appartement in which I reside. Both he and my mother are well acquainted with the area and many of its secrets. This evening he showed me one of them: Restaurant chez Lucette.
Lucette’s restaurant is easily recognisable as a light blue corner on Rue de la Jonquière and Rue des Épinettes with blue christmas ligths in the windows, and yes also in June. It however seems rather closed with laced curtains drawn, and as such it is not possible to comprehend the magic of the place by merely passing by.
Inside, Lucette’s is a bright place with a dominance of lightblue objects and stucco. There is quite a lot of plastic green plants and a homey atmosphere. Though my mother’s Scandinavian minimalism would declare that there is too many knickknacks, the place is in its totality surprisingly cozy and enjoyable. There are however a few items which stand out. In a vitrine on the one side, amongst numerous glasses, Lucette has placed several artifacts from weddings and baptisms. Moreover, the vitrine also shows a grand collection of medium sized model cars, all of which have a small fury model cat on top. Another oddity is how the old bar also functions as the entrance to the wine cellar. In the one end the bar opens up a tiny whole of less then 60 cm in height which leads to stairs entering the cellar.
But the true magic of Lucette’s is the food, or rather how it is prepared. Lucette is an elderly woman from Normandie with blond coloured hair. The restaurant is basically her dining room and the kitchen makes you think of the time before microwaves and prefabricated food. Lucette is alone in the restaurant and acts as both waitress and chef. And everything she makes, she makes from scratch.
At Lucette’s there is no menu. The three options, which she tells you as you are seated, depend on what has been available at the market. As you order, she begins to peel the potatoes and if you are lucky you have a seat so that you can look into her kitchen as she cooks wonderful French food. This is food as grandmother made it, if grandmother was French – nothing fancy, nothing chic, but good well-tasting food for a very reasonable price.
She might have friends or family coming. Some of them act as if they are at home, help out a little, bring their own food and walk behind the bar. They are friendly and some are talkative. This evening my stepfather ended up in a longer talk about the different villages of Lozère. Pictures were shown, stories were told, and villages and towns described.
Visiting Restaurant chez Lucette is an experience as much as a dinner out. It’s a story of France and French cuisine from before it became fancy. Going to Lucette’s is like coming home to a nice home-cooked meal.