I was having coffee near the church of a very sad funeral when I met Olivier Rupé, a charming young man who studied finance and marketing and decided that he loved cheese. After training with a few star cheesemongers, he now runs the cheese shop of Monbleu, a restaurant on 37 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, a few blocks from Hôtel Drouot and the former Le Palace nightclub. It is open seven days a week (except Sunday dinner) and caters mostly cheese from the mountains around Grenoble and Annecy where Pierre Gay prepares them, but also any other kind from Normandy or abroad, of course. I loved the young atmosphere, the modest prices and the very kind welcome from Andrea, the handsome Italian who runs the restaurant. The founder, Damien Richardot, and engineer who used to work for the Boston Consulting group and now runs restaurants. There is a second Monbleu on rue du Petit Thouars in the Marais.
We ordered fabulous and generous gougères au fromage and croquetas ham and cheese, sausage from Aveyron with potato purée and Maroiles sauce. And the specialty, Mega fondant, a sort of macaroni and cheese with coquillettes which can be added with truffles. You can have a cheeseburger of chicken, or a baked Mont d’Or vacherin. Or order a raclette for two which is extremely exotic in Paris. The lunch menu is incredibly reasonable at 19 € and a plate of cheese is 7€ to 10€.
Located near the fashionable rue des Martyrs and Hôtel Drouot where ladies of leisure often go and browse in the auctions, Monbleu is an ideal stopover at lunchtime if you don’t want a long lunch. It is fully booked every evening so make sure to reserve ahead. Whether you have a plate of cheese with a salad or a heavier raclette, with melted cheese on potato and different kinds of ham, the atmosphere is fun and when we went we had Italian neighbours and a hungry Scottish gentleman who seemed to enjoy themselves enormously.
On the way out, the hundreds of cheeses kept in large refrigerators are all tempting and I resisted buying the Brie Noir, which looked just too dramatic, but was tempted by the Pavé du Larzac, the Manchego from Spain and a huge Gorgonzola in a box. More and more young men who have studied at business schools become chefs, Monbleu is a good example of this reconversion and you feel that everyone is passionate at what they are doing.
Unlike most cheese shops which are closed on Mondays, Monbleu is open every day and Sundays from 10am to 3pm, at 37 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, corner of rue Drouot. You can order trays of cheese for a party or privatize the room upstairs which is very charming. And it all comes with a smile…
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