it's an antique family affair
The legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer says, “A great restaurant is one that makes you feel like you’re not sure whether you went out or you came home. If it can do both of those things at the same time, you’re hooked.” At Mademoiselle Fifi, the just-opened spot nestled in the buzzing Puces de Fifi, you feel like you’re dining at your friend’s home…which happens to be an antique shop.
As if fitting for their location on the boulevard Fifi Turin, named for the fervent WWII resistance fighter, Mademoiselle Fifi is run by a dynamic mother-daughter duo: Ladane and Vicky. Vicky had always wanted to open a restaurant with her mom, a former Parisian antiquaire who was constantly cooking and hosting friends. With fellow family members working at the Puces, these first-time restaurateurs got their chance to make their dream a reality.
Here, diners can either sit outside at colorful tables along the faux street lined with marble statues, horse-drawn carriages, and shoppers strolling by. The interior is equally charming, with mid-century metal tables surrounded by vintage furniture, bric-a-brac-filled shelves, and stuffed armchairs.
As their Facebook page pronounces, Mademoiselle Fifi serves “traditional cuisine revisited” to those who love “la grand gastronomie but are exhausted by the pomp that accompanies it."
This means tasty bavette steaks with delectable housemade frites and slow-roasted lamb with a zucchini cauliflower gratin cooked up by chef Richard. The copious veggie plate comes with a butternut and chèvre tart, a squash beignet, and a market fresh green salad.
The deserts are homey classics, like a fantastic tarte tatin and a poached pear with salted caramel and mascarpone cream. Our waiter delivers the latter with a side of humor, saying it will do wonders for our belly—a nod to its naughty fat content.
Each Saturday, Ladane dons an apron to take diners on a trip to Persia. This not-to-miss 3-course, 18 euro menu of traditional Iranian food is thoughtfully made with ingredients that she sources in Paris or that Grandma sends from Iran. We devour asheh reshteh (aka soupe de mendiants--beggars soup) made with green Iranian herbs, vermicelli, and lentils. This verdant soup is a delicious, comforting way to get your greens in the winter.
Our plat is kefte tabrizi, giant meatballs stuffed with prunes atop rice – a toothsome, longer grain from Iran – with slivered pistachios so green they look like mini avocados. Dessert is a plate of pâtisseries orientales, including makrout, almond honey cigars and walnut baklava--which the waiter winks is "good for the hips."
In addition to lunch, Mademoiselle Fifi is a lovely spot to curl up with a café in an armchair – croissants are on hand in the morning – or have a post-shopping apèro. They are closed for dinner to open the space to private parties; from afterworks to weddings, all are welcome.
My first Marseille digs were at an AirBnb run by an affable brocanteur, Didier. I felt at home in his 19th-century antique wonderland, both because of him and the hundreds of objects around us that each had a story to tell. Mademoiselle Fifi reminds me of this apartment, with its welcoming warmth and intriguing setting in a vintage village. Like Mr. Meyer says, I am hooked.
fyi Brunch is served on the first Sunday of the month from 10h-17h. 25 euros for adults; 15 euros for kids. Reserve in advance--they sometimes sell out.
tip The antiques extend beyond the restaurant’s walls. Pop into the Puces for choice vintage finds. A walk around La Capelette is a stroll through history, with an old spinning mill, stable and factory just down the street.
hours 9h-18h M-Sa Lunch 12h – 13h
20 Boulevard Fifi Turin
06 22 66 62 57