When we heard about this place, we couldn’t believe our luck. Cheap, delicious French food in Charleston, SC? Fast & French (also known as Gaulart & Maliclet Cafe Restaurant) delivers affordable and tasty French and North African food from a tiny storefront on Broad Street near the shopping district of downtown Charleston. Every day, there’s a lunch special for $8.95; every night there’s a dinner special for $15-$16. Thursday nights are chef’s choice fondue specials. All specials include a glass of French wine or iced tea. If you want a beer, you’ve got to pay an extra dollar.
We stumbled in for lunch and found the place pretty packed. It was a tight squeeze to get back to our seats — a tiny bench jammed against a column at a communal table already filled with six other diners. I am not a fan of communal tables, but I get the point — to keep the food affordable, they need to jam in as many people as possible. I just didn’t feel like sharing an awkward conversation with our tablemates, like the two couples next to us (overheard: Maine is a socialist republic). So we just sat there, feeling rude and self-consciously talking to each other until our food arrived and gave us something to do.
I had the lunch special: saucisson, French cheese, green olive tapenade, carrot ginger soup, fresh fruit, bread, and a glass of white wine. For $8.95. Paul had a half croque monsieur, split pea soup, and a glass of white wine for about $10. This is how I like to eat lunch. It was the perfect amount of food, not so much that you weren’t hungry for dinner in a few hours. All delicious. I want to try everything on their menu. I want to pack this place up and take it with me to wherever I end up living.
Exiting, Paul almost brained himself on the fireplace mantel. You’ve got to stay sharp here — don’t have too many glasses of that French wine.