Café de Michel
The French eat in the darndest places
On the Cheap by Liz Zack
Michel Soltani, owner of Café de Michel, thinks Americans are too
inhibited, and in his seven-month-old eatery he offers the consummate French
cure for shyness: camaraderie, conversation, and red wine. And Soltani does it
in the most unlikely of venues -- Café de Michel serves up French eating
not at a posh South End address, but on the outskirts of Mission Hill, with no
restaurant like it for blocks.
The restaurant's 12 small tables are intentionally placed close together,
encouraging, if not forcing, you to chat with the stranger next to you -- who
may or may not speak English. Ordering is done in many languages here, while
the servers sing along loudly to the French rock playing overhead.
You order at a long marble bar, decorated with jars of biscotti and glass
cases of cakes; the menu is part Italian, part French. The vegetarian sandwich
has mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil, roasted red peppers, and extra-virgin
olive oil ($4.95); the penne à la Mediterranean features tomatoes,
basil, and jalapeños in a slightly hot sauce ($6.25). There's also
chicken à la crème fraîche, which pairs chicken and penne
in a high-comfort, low-risk garlic-broccoli-cream sauce ($7.95). Soltani says
the menu will continue to grow, and he's just gotten a license to install a
grill. For dessert, request a cheese platter: it's not on the menu, but it's a
decidedly French way to bring the meal to a close.
Café de Michel, located at 1625 Tremont Street (Mission Hill/Brigham
Circle), in Boston, is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to
1 a.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday from
9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call (617) 566-5958.
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