I hesitate to write about this biodynamic bonne adresse, because it has managed to remain a well-hidden wine bar that benefits from getting less attention than it deserves.
However, after trekking around the nearby 9th arrondisement with friends Kim and Stacey, struggling to find a spot to sit and sip, I decided that I needed to share this spot for all those weary Parisians daunted by their overcrowded city.
Located in this awesome, off-the-beaten-track area of Montmartre, La Cave Café, is always full enough to feel lively but never so packed that you can't pull up a bar stool or a chair (on a recent evening I witnessed patrons squeezing and sliding, making room for two American tourists at their table- always room for one more!). The café is as welcoming as it is weathered and worn-in, keeping its old-school French bistrot style and mixing in Multicultural mélanges.
I suspect the jolly anglophone who I often see enjoying a glass of wine at the bar to be the owner (which might explain why the bar has a surprisingly great whiskey selection for a bistrot) and I applaud his dedication to keeping the authenticity of the bistrot and the spirit of French Café culture alive, capturing the joie de vivre of the French external living room.
When you take into account the friendly staff, incredibly reasonable prices (4 euro pints at the bar, 4.50 at a table, wines from 3-4 euro a glass), and the high probability of seeing impromptu live music, reggae sessions, or just spontaneous dancing, and you'll find its hard to not become a habitué of this local hangout.
The Cave's large chalkboard wine list proposes a wide variety of natural and biodynamic wines. Most of the wines are low-sulfur, making them just about as organic as wine can get- with the added benefit of reducing your nasty wine hangover risk.
La Cave sells wine by the glass or in carafes and this is because all the wines are on tap and sold in bulk- no bottles here, so you'll have to either be sage and order a 25 or 50cl carafe or just go for it and order a liter of vin naturel (nasty wine hangover risk is greatly increased once you've started down this path-there's only so much a low sulfur count can do).
I'm a big fan of pairing your evening liter of wine with a meal and if you share this lifestyle choice, La Cave Café has got you covered. Their food menu is made up of standard bistrot fare and tastes exactly how you would expect it too- like pretty good bistrot food. To it's credit, they have a vegetarian option, a few pescatarian options, and for partners of vege/pescetarians there are some healthy portions of meat.
My guy loved his entrecôte and I was pretty pumped about the generous portions of my entrée- the salade fraîcheur composed of cucumbers (have I mentioned how much I love cucumbers this Summer?), beets, and red onions.
We were also pleasantly surprised when we took our two forks to the dessert- the cheesecake was delicious, with everything done right, from the crumbly crust, the velvet cream cheese to the raspberry coulis tying it all together.
Finishing off our meal, with the end of our liter (or "shitloads of wine" as Clem kept referring to it- where does he learn these Americanisms? Stacey??) in sight we realized that we had spent 2 hours à table without even noticing it.
All told, including the shitloads of wine and the two glasses of kir we started out with, our 2 1/2 course meal came to about 68 euro.
Not at all eager to leave our second living room we siddled up to the bar, where the volume of a Blondie album got steadily higher and we succumbed to the temptation of a Scotch on the rocks.
La Cave Café
134 rue Marcadet
Sat & Sun: 10h-2h
Sunday brunch from 12h-16h
Live Music Apèro Sundays from 18h30