Inattendu. Insolite. Izakaya.
The first two words would be how the French would describe this izakaya. Quirky and completely unexpected.
The Japanese word izakaya originally comes from i meaning ‘to stay’ and sakaya a ‘saké shop’ and therefore loosely, it means a saké shop where you can hang out. That’s a pretty accurate description for the Cave 27.
With a floor space of no more than 12m², it is smaller than your average Parisian studio. It certainly feels like one too. There is just one table in the middle of the room. Stools pop out from nowhere to accommodate diners. Stepping over the threshold is like stepping into someone’s living room.
The host in this ‘apartment’ is Takemoto, an eccentric long grey-haired, flamenco-lover, who can greet you in English, French, Spanish, Arabic or Japanese.
Accordingly, there is an eccentric and international selection of alcohols on offer: French and Spanish wine (for between 11 and 15€ a bottle) and a few beers, as well as plenty of saké, shochu and Japanese whisky (I think I spotted a Nikka Miyagikyo Non-Age behind the bar.)
You can either perch at the bar or find a spot around the table. I still dont know how we managed to fit 8 people in there on Monday night. It looks like there’s only space for three. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, there is live music. Only le bon Dieu knows how they all fit.
As for food, you choose between small ‘tapas’ dishes or in an enormous saucepan in the middle of the table. The 2 dishes of tapas and a half-pitcher of saké for 6€ is a steal. If you fancy something a little more substantial, it’ll set you back 8€ per person for the steaming bowl of broth. Even with several rounds of food and drinks, you’ll get change back from a twenty euro note.
It really is the one of the most astounding places I’ve come across in Paris. Once you’ve got over the initial discomfort of being in this tiny room, the lowered boundaries mean that you end up making conversation with the other diners (something that never normally happens in Paris.) Food is shared, bottles ordered for the table, and new friends are made.
Essential InformationAddress: 27 rue Lamarck, 75018 Contact Details: Email takemotomotoichi at yahoo.fr Opening Hours: from 12 noon – 14.30 and from 17h until midnight. Even on Mondays. Reservations: not necessary. Suggested footwear: don’t quote me on this but you could practically come here in your slippers!