If you’re looking for a très French experience then La Coupole is the restaurant for you. Situated dans le quartier du Montparnasse, sur le boulevard du meme nom, it is literally an art deco shrine to a past that has coloured your imagination for all things French, a symbol of history where art, literature and classic French cuisine merge. It’s huge – they do 500 seats a night I gather. I don’t think the photo they have on the website does the restaurant justice to be honest. They should put a photo on of the restaurant when it’s full of people because the effect is quite different. It doesn’t feel formal, it feels buzzy and warm.
The legendary brasserie had been recommended to me as the best restaurant by a local. I don’t believe it has a plaque, but if it did, it would read “Here, the Spanish painter Picasso often came, as did the painters Derain, Léger, Soutine and Man Ray aussi. Henry Miller came from afar, Matisse drank beer, while Joyce lined up his whiskeys. The writers Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre were regulars, Gainsbourg and Birkin would come for Sunday lunch as Renaud busked and François Mitterrand ate his last meal here – the famous lamb curry”.
The menu is mainly seafood, at least I think it is…I requested the menu in French and then couldn’t understand a word – except for Crepes Suzette – my favourite which did not disappoint. All fire and fury and the best ones I’ve ever had. I took a photo of the pancakes, but they’re never very photogenic, so I will spare you the image:-
The staff were très agréable, surprisingly so. Making jokes and not minding that we were late arriving after my taxi driver failed to understand where we were going. It was full of locals on the night we went, which is always a good sign. Most of them seemed to be celebrating a birthday. They do a thing for birthdays. The lights dim and a fake cake is lit with huge candles. All the staff form a procession and go off to the birthday table to sing. It’s very sweet. But by the eighth time that evening, I imagine they must have been getting a little weary of the process, but they didn’t show it.
The signature pudding:-