I’ve been enjoying the food, ambiance, and staff at Le Titi de Paris for more than 30 of the restaurant’s 40 years. It has become like an old friend — the place one celebrates important days or simply goes when one needs a special treat. It was the one world-class French restaurant that one could actually describe as “accessible.” Owners and staff were amazingly friendly and people-oriented, prices were reasonable for the astonishing quality of the food, they went out of their way to create meals that matched a wide range of budgets (fixed-price menus were often a real bargain, and the $16 “Express Lunch” was a great value), and I can’t think of any other really high-end place that encouraged people to drop in for dessert after a movie. Or that offered an annual motorcycle outing. Or that offered weekend cooking camps for kids.
But it is all soon coming to an end. My beloved Le Titi and its wonderful owners, Michael and Susan Maddox, are saying farewell. They have, like most people, been hurt by the economy. However, in their case, the positives were looking very attractive. They are eager to spend more time with their growing children, plus the city has been leaning on them to relinquish their prime piece of property, because it is felt that another strip mall will be more useful–which means the Maddoxes will be going out on a high note.
The place is packed every night, now, in anticipation of the end. It reminds me of the corporate world, where no one says anything nice to you until your farewell party.
Any of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I wrote a profile of Chef Michael Maddox several years ago for North Shore Magazine. If you’re interested, you can check it out here. In the writing vein, I had always loved the fact that I could order an express lunch, curl up with a notebook and pen, and they’d keep the iced tea coming for a couple of hours. I had envisioned my becoming a famous writer and being known for hanging out at Le Titi, rather than the diners or bars associated with some other notable writers. Sigh.
And I’m not sure I’ll ever find a bouillabaisse I like as well as theirs.
I will miss Le Titi terribly. There are other great French restaurants in the Chicagoland area, but I can’t imagine there will ever be another one that is so welcoming and feels so much like home.
So farewell, mes amis. I wish you all the best in whatever lies ahead for you. You will be leaving a big hole in the lives of a lot of people– but I suspect you’ll make a great success of whatever is next.