Time is a delusion, but we must live our lives, and so our story begins with time. In 2015, a year that existed in our memories as a slightly less shitty version of 2016, a person named Jim decided that he wanted to open a restaurant in the old barrelhouse of an old brewery building in an old neighborhood called Over the Rhine. Why even mention his name? He’s a real person, not just a name. He swims greater lengths than most people walk in a given day. A simple notion from a complex person became a mission, a reason, a commitment.
If this were a real story, and not an “about us” section on a website that most people don’t read, there would be something about struggle and hardship, maybe a cliffhanger where you’re not sure what’s going to happen next. But that’s not this; this is something else. This is just a restaurant, but this is not just a restaurant. This is Sartre, a contemporary brasserie. To ape the French we would call it a ‘neo-brasserie,’ but let’s not. The first brasseries were in Alsace, France, a word that means “brewery.” And they were breweries, or, attached to breweries, grand gathering spaces with food and drink. They followed the money to Paris and evolved, the best still serve, the mediocre disappeared.
In the tradition of the brasserie, Sartre serves a large menu of food from soil and pasture and sea, and many fine drinks. Much of what we serve is made possible by those early enterprising days in France; but we were brought into Being by minds in OTR, and like our neighborhood, we admire the past but pin our ambitions and culinary style to the future.
Jean-Paul Sartre believed that “man is nothing else but what he makes of himself,” he believed in the unbridled freedom of human will. As a restaurant, Sartre exists to celebrate the style and fascination of the French, their sense of the past, and their sense of the next moment. We exist as a forum for creative freedom of expression in whatever form. This is a place for friends and neighbors and passersby to wile away an afternoon or celebrate an evening of whatever. Our food is expressive and communal, an intersection of experience and interest. We seek to break paradigms and create our own interpretation of dining out. Think of us as a French neighborhood diner that serves slow food fast.