08 June 2017

deck & donohue la terrasse at bob's bake shop, 75018

As of early May, Montreuil micro-brewery Deck & Donohue has teamed up with 18ème-arrondissement vegetarian canteen Bob's Bake Shop to liven up the latter's enormous terrace all summer.

Spearheading the project is Daniela Lavadenz, Thomas Deck's superhumanly energetic fiancée, who previously honed her skills in the kitchen at Au Passage and the dining room of Le Six Paul Bert. At Deck & Donohue La Terrasse, she offers a small menu of well-plated snack foods faithful to both the project's ambitions - a casual beer-garden sans garden - and its host, a vegetarian restaurant. The fried-food-and-frankfurter tendencies of the standard beer-garden concept are therefore replaced with hummous, marinated peppers, a slurpably brilliant salmorejo, and roast potatoes with chimichurri sauce, a nod to Lavadenz's Bolivian heritage. Supplementing the terrace's four taps of joltingly fresh Deck & Donohue beers are a bevy of natural rosés by the glass, from the likes of Julien Merle, Château Bas, and Frederic Rivaton.

To anyone like myself, reluctant, during summertime, to plunk down beaucoup euros for lengthy meals at fine Paris restaurants that invariably lack air-conditioning or even basic ventilation, Deck & Donohue La Terrasse offers a form of salvation. But the project's appeal will be tested by its location north of métro Lachapelle, a heavily immigrant neighborhood whose female residents have recently drawn significant media attention to routine harassment its streets. Salvation, in this case, comes with a healthy dose of social consciousness.

I'll be the first to admit there is something curious about loafing, beer in hand, in a site that hosted, just a year ago, a refugee camp. (Two, very different types of loafing, one can't help reflecting.)

A 2016 article in Le Monde quoted Bob's Bake Shop founder Marc Grossman on the refugee crisis facing his and other establishments on the esplanade Nathalie Sarraute: "It's like a recurring nightmare. We suffer enormously. But if we don't complain louder, it's because the first victims are them, and not us."

The scene on the esplanade is very different in the summer of 2017. The refugee camp has withdrawn. The recent media storm concerning sexual harassment in the streets surrounding Lachapelle has resulted in a perceptible and, one hopes, enduring police presence in the neighborhood. At one end of the esplanade is the loud, jungle-like terrace of bistro-club Les Petites Gouttes. Further north is a terraced American-themed bar.

Sandwiched between them is Bob's Bake Shop, and Deck & Donohue La Terrasse - an unshowy arrangement of benches, logo-printed sun-chairs, and picnic tables, some covered with striped tents. Lavadenz alternates between the interior kitchen and the tap-stand just outside; Deck and other staff run dishes, pull beers, and welcome guests.

The atmosphere is unhurried and familial, perfect for slow-gathering summer evenings among disparate groups of friends.

A longtime devotee of all the Deck & Donohue beers in bottle form, I relish the opportunity to taste them on draft. The recently-released Clem's Summer Wheat seemed more vivid and substantial than usual in my pint glass the other night, but it may have merely been a trick of the blinding sundown.

Neurotic and guilt-stricken by nature, I can never help wondering, between sips at Deck & Donohue La Terrasse, about the quixotic nature of patronizing leisure spaces in downtrodden neighborhoods.

Does my presence as a client at Deck & Donohue La Terrasse contribute anything to the area, besides a tad more noise pollution? Could a nightly influx of non-threatening peaceable craft beer-drinkers into the neighborhood go some way towards dissuading economically-marginalized men from venting their frustration in misogynist gestures? Is that what was happening in the first place?*

The only answer to these questions, as I see it, is to keep sipping. I'll probably pass the much of the summer on this terrace. What Deck, Donohue, Lavadenz, and Grossman are offering Lachapelle is, in itself, pure goodwill.

* The delicacy of the subject is such that the original petition by Lachapelle area women against sexual harassment was followed by a counterdemonstration of Lachapelle area residents insisting that the district is, contrary to most media coverage, perfectly decent. It is unfortunately true that, in France's contemporary political climate, even a noncontroversial stance like defending women's rights can be usurped by anyone peddling ugly ethnic bias couched in gallantry: "Defend our women!" etc. Not being a woman, I can't speak to the subject from direct experience, except to say that Lachapelle station does seem to warrant sustained police presence, if merely to discourage its tenacious pickpockets. 

Bob's Bake Shop + Deck & Donohue La Terrasse
Halle Pajol, 12 Espl. Nathalie Sarraute
75018 PARIS
Métro: Lachapelle

Deck & Donohue La Terrasse is open Wednesday-Sunday, 4pm - midnight, summer 2017.

Related Links:

I wrote a bit about Deck & Donohue in this piece about Montreuil for Paris by Mouth.

Paris by Mouth also has a good round-up of coverage on Bob's Bake Shop

1 comment:

  1. I read your blog mostly for the wine-related content but I really enjoyed this post and not only because of the little fellow that looks like a long-haired version of our Spanish rescue dog.