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Le Cafe du Marche in Rue Cler Area

Rick! You led me astray on this one! I should have figured that, this close to the Eiffel Tower, it would be pure tourist-y...and, it was. Trekked 20 minutes to this place from our apartment just to have our group of French speakers be handed English menus. Uh oh. I ordered steak frites and received a hamburger patty. Sans frites. After asking the waitress (not sure WHAT language she was speaking) about the missing frites and...missing steak, for that matter...she sent out a parade of kitchen hierarchy to convince me that a hamburger patty is really a steak in France.
You don't let me down often, Rick but this was a lulu... Waaay too close to La Tour Eiffel to be Parisian.

Posted by
7997 posts

I agree with you cindy, although many on this forum will not. It's recommended here often. We did not have a good experience and I got food poisoning after eating there. And, thanks to Rick hyping rue Cler for decades, it's too American for me.

Posted by
2246 posts

Well it's interesting...someone here mentioned just the other day that Rick's food recs were a weakness for him, and there's probably something to that. Personally, I prefer to read reviews of planned dining, and currently on Yelp there is a specific mention from August of an RS book having recommended it, and I see now on TA what I presume is the OP's review. Different people can have such a different experience, it can be frustrating, for sure. After the latest review on TA, titled "Awful", are reviews titled "Love This Place", "Perfect", "Great Little Parisian Cafe With Great People Watching" and "Lovely Dinner, Great Staff".

I don't doubt that you had a bad experience, it's just interesting. I hope you found some truly great food while you were in Paris.

Posted by
1664 posts

I think this is true of the RS guidebook dining recommendations near the Pompideau, too.

Keep in mind that the guide is aimed at, mostly, first-time visitors with time constraints.
If you've been around the block enough times to develop some savoir faire, then use it
to make better choices.

I repeat here something I mentioned about an RS-recommended spot in Antibes:
the interaction with the staff started in English, but when I asked a question in French
about a dessert being delivered to a neighboring table, the waiter gave me a sharp look
(not rude, jovial) and said, hey, if you know how to say something in French, then say it in French.
By the end of the meal I'd heard the entire employment history of the staff, and tales of the
rivalries among the Antibes and Juan-les-Pins restaurant impresarios...

Posted by
2628 posts

For me, du Marche is one of my go to places. I've eaten there on many trips to Paris and have always had well prepared, tasty food at reasonable cafe prices. I've recommended it often, especially the duck. Never a problem with the wait staff with the exception of when the resto was VERY busy. Sorry to hear about your negative experience. Just remember steak hache is a hamburger.

Posted by
7720 posts

Since Dave brings up the TA reviews, one suggestion is to bring up the reviews done by the native speakers of whatever country you are visiting. Those reviews will be more accurate and not have the vacation halo effect, assuming they aren't paid fake reviews,

Posted by
782 posts

I'm surprised by your bad experience. Le Cafe du Marche has been one of my favorite places to eat when we're in Paris, the food was always good and prices very reasonable. Next time I'm in France I will have to go there and see if it has changed. I love Paris and never get tired of just roaming around the Rue Cler area and along the river. I have actually been impressed with the restaurant recommendations from Rick's books, they have pretty much been right on in respect to price and quality.

Posted by
178 posts

In our experience, the restaurant recommendations are not his strongest points.

Posted by
928 posts

Rick is not a fine dining kind of guy - well, maybe in his normal life but not in his public, guidebook-selling life. That said, I've tried his restaurant recommendations, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident, and usually found them good to very good and at a fair and reasonable price. Cafe du Marche was no exception, but I didn't order steak frites.
We ate at one of his recommendations near our tour hotel in Montparnasse and we were the only English speakers in the place. It was a busy lunch hour, they unceremoniously sat us at a table with two others who were already well into their main and several glasses of the house red. It was a fun experience. I am pretty sure our tablemates got an extra glass of wine for accommodating us at their table.

Posted by
9 posts

Granted, Rick is not Zagat but, we have had some outstanding restaurant recommendations from him over the years, from the Baltic to the Adriatic.
One of our favorite RS recommendations in Paris has been Restaurant Polidor, near the Odeon, in the 6th. It's a century + old establishment, diners at community tables, offering basic, good French cooking! The French patron sitting next to you is usually happy to give his dessert suggestion. Genuine Paris.
But, alas...not the night of 26 November.

Posted by
7205 posts

if you trek ANYWHERE on the rue Cler you're going to be immersed in a crowd that's 90% American Tourists and most are carrying an RS book. You want to see Paris and have great food - get away from rue Cler, get away from the Eiffel Tower, go until there is no longer a hint of RS readers any where around. THEN you'll be in Paris!

Posted by
16869 posts

I haven't been to the restaurant under discussion. But remember that within the limited space the guidebook allows for a restaurant listing, every word counts. In this case the emphasis is on price and people-watching:

[$] Café du Marché boasts the best seats on Rue Cler. The owner’s philosophy: Brasserie on speed--crank out good enough food at great prices to appreciative locals and savvy tourists. It’s high-energy, with young waiters who barely have time to smile...très Parisian. This place works well if you don’t mind a limited selection and want to eat an inexpensive one-course meal among a commotion of people. The chalkboard lists your choices: good, hearty salads or more filling plats du jour...

Posted by
63 posts

Rue Cler is centrally located and has a good representative variety of shops, markets and restaurants. It's not out of the way but if someone wants to see small businesses selling a variety of products and services similar to those found all over France near major tourist destinations in Paris, Rue Cler fits the bill nicely imo.

If you're a francophile or a Paris maven there are better choices, but that isn't RS target audience.

Posted by
1 posts

My husband and I stayed in this area in September. I found the Cafe du Marche intimidating, so we never tried it. But we had three wonderful meals at the Cafe Roussillon - comfortable, friendly to both tourists and locals, and wonderful food!