I've passed by this spot many times in recent months and there has never been any change. The unit remains hidden behind breeze blocks, but now even the demolition permit has dropped forlornly down to the ground. I feel moved to compose an ode to a restaurant I never knew;
La Mirabelle, a sweet name for a restaurant that never had a plum position in the city.
La Mirabelle a tree that put down roots, resisting being transformed into a simple branch.
This is a restaurant that left little trace in guides, but did anybody mourn the day the restaurant closed for the last time? Is there still a ghost telephone number that people try to ring to make reservations?
It reminds me of another similar sized venue that I used to frequent, called Chez Danie in the Rue De Louvois in the 2nd arrondissement. Danie beavered away in the kitchen, preparing her daily 8 Euro menus whilst her one employee, a lady called Maria who looked a little like Edith Piaf, eagerly waited on the 5 or 6 tables. Danie spoke to everyone in the room through the kitchen hatch, and often talked of her desire to sell up and retire to 'the islands'. The restaurant was only open 5 days a week and only at lunchtimes, but seemingly generated enough income from the rapid turnover to keep Danie in business. One day though I turned up and the door was locked. It was closed for a long time until it eventually became a Korean restaurant. I guess she made it to La Reunion.
I am full of admiration for anybody who attempts to open a restaurant. These people need to find a hefty initial investment, to choose a decor that attracts, then have confidence that their cooking will find an appreciative audience. It’s something I could never do as I'm haunted by the ridiculous French themed restaurant called 'The Regret Rien' that Timothy Spall opens in Mike Leigh's Life is Sweet. On opening night, not a single customer.
How long will such establishments be able to survive across Paris? Run by passionate individuals with overheads cut down to a maximum, they attempt to offer a decent home-made meal to match the price of the average luncheon voucher. With rents rising and bank loans getting more and more difficult to obtain, will there always be people ready to take the plunge into this industry? We should support such individuals before all that is left are the large multinationals.