Crimson walls with a dark wood finish; small, intimate, red leatherette banquettes; walls adorned with Folies Bergère posters, black and white photos of Parisian street scenes and portraits of film stars – Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Roger Moore, and in the background a French accordion quietly serenades. When the owner appears carrying menus set onto an oil painting palette, I fully expect him to be under five feet tall and wearing a top hat.
Set on a quiet road behind the main street in Costa Teguise, Montmartre Bistro is a little slice of Parisian bohemian life in a sun-soaked Lanzarote resort. Marrying the two cultures almost seamlessly, the large, front dining room has volcanic stone walls and full length windows which flood it with light while the candle lit, boudoir-coloured walls of the intimate bistro bar at the rear whisper seductively of the bohemian values of truth, beauty and love.
Before we get too carried away with Moulin Rouge fantasies, we peruse the á la carte menu and I make my selection, safe in the knowledge that my hips have gained a centimetre just reading the sauce descriptors.
When it’s time for the wine selection I’m torn. Once again the marriage of Lanzarote and France is sending my decision making skills into turmoil. Do I go for a bottle of crisp, white malvasía, Lanzarote wine with its distinctive volcanic essence or opt for a classic French? Jean Pierre takes the decision out of my hands by recommending the Cuvée de Vignes, specially bottled for the restaurant. Its mulberry colour and soft fruit and vanilla flavours are like a trip down memory lane to a summer spent camping in the Loire Valley.
For the past 16 years Jeanne Pierre and his wife Patricia have been bringing their culinary skills to Costa Teguise having opened their first restaurant in Puerto del Carmen 22 years ago. They have seen changes in Lanzarote over the years, not least the current crisis which is sending holidaymakers to the cheapest menus and yet, here in Montmartre on a Wednesday night towards the end of the high season where the menu prices are the wrong end of cheap, there isn’t an empty table in the house.
When my Seafood Pancake au Gratin arrives, for a split second I worry about my cholesterol levels before that thought flies out the window and I sink my fork in and introduce my taste buds to the light batter pancake, mussels, prawns and succulent hake pieces in their creamy, toasted cheese overcoat. Jack’s Snails Bourguignon in Pastry are tender, meaty snails in a light puff pastry and a savoury garlic, pastis and cream sauce.
After humming and hawing over the main course selections until we were in danger of the place closing, we’d finally opted for the Calves’ Liver in a green pepper sauce with caramelised onion and the Veal Blanquette in a creamy, white wine sauce with rice. The dishes were served with fried potatoes and fresh vegetables of cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and red cabbage. The calves’ liver was velvety soft and tender, its intensity of flavour nicely balanced with the peppery sauce and smoky, sweet onions. The veal blanquette was silkily succulent, melting on the tongue in an avalanche of flavour.
By this time we were both pretty sure we wouldn’t need to eat again for the next 24 hours but something, okay let’s be specific here, the Chocolate Profiteroles were just begging to be tasted. With a frankly pathetic nod to self restraint , we ordered just one portion of profiteroles between us. When the dish arrived, three perfect choux pastries filled with ice cream, topped with fresh cream and drizzled with rich, dark chocolate sauce were assaulted as if we hadn’t eaten for a week, our forks fighting over the third one.
We slowly finished the wine, enjoyed a post dinner liqueur and sat back to marvel at the French-ness of it all while Jeanne Pierre brought me a perfect yellow rose to take home. Comme c’est joli!
À la carte menu of classic French cuisine including Frogs Legs Provençal, Roast Duckling and Mignon of Beef Forestiere with sweets to die for including Chestnuts with Ice Cream and Cognac and Crêpes Suzette. Blackboard ‘specials’ add another dozen choices of starters and mains. Two different set menus give a choice of two or three courses and change weekly. Portions are generous.
Set menus are €13.50 for two courses, €15.50 for three courses. À la carte starters range from €5.40 to €8.50, mains average €14 and sweets fall into the €4 – €7 range. An excellent selection of Spanish and French wines range from reasonable to special occasion price tags.
Montmartre Restaurant Bistro, Avenida de Las Palmeras, Los Molinos, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote; Tel: (0034) 928 59 12 05; open Friday-Wednesday 19.00-23.00, closed Thursday.
Buzz Trips dined at Montmartre as a guest of Sands Beach Resort
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+