Le 6 Paul Bert

mulet, red currants, beets

It’s rare I find a restaurant where I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t consider myself picky or a tough customer (others might say otherwise); it’s just my idea of a perfect restaurant is a nice welcome, servers that are nearby when I need them – and I don’t need to be besties with them – and good, uncomplicated food made with well-sourced ingredients. I tend to think those things are fairly easy to accomplish, but I’m often dismayed when I order something and it arrives at the table underseasoned, or the presentation takes precedence over flavor.

While I appreciate chefs wanting to fuss over every teensy little thing on the plate, I kind of wish they would focus on the food and the flavor rather than making sure the singular poached scallion blossom is draped just-so over the artfully placed crescent of beet alongside the smear of white chocolate-cumin emulsion with a poof of salmon cheek foam balanced on top. Just put the food on a plate and send it out, folks! So after a few dud dinners at highly touted restaurants, I was happy to hit pay-dirt at Le 6 Paul Bert.

In an area that’s quickly becoming filled with interesting restaurants, I’ve eaten here twice, and I was kinda blown-away both times. It’s a nice-looking, classy, simple dining room. On one side is an épicerie selling charcuterie, oils, tinned sardines, and so forth. Then the long dining room is divided in two, with a communal table on one side and smaller tables on the other. At the end is an open kitchen where Québécois Chef Louis-Philippe and his assistant work side-by-side, concentrating on the food, but not stressing or standing there with tweezers micromanaging the presentations. They’re simply cooking.

6 paul bert

The format of the menu is that you choose any four courses for €38; you pick three things from the savory part of the menu, then one dessert. (You can also go à la carte, but I recommend getting the formule as it allows you to take a tour around the chef’s talent.) The first time I went, I thought four courses would be too much food, but it was just right. I don’t want to use the term “small plates”, because each plate I would say falls into the “medium” category – and each is worthy of main course status. And the “medium plate” concept allow you to be able to get a taste – and then have some more, because there’s nothing worse than swooning over a dish but not having enough of it. Which I why I dislike sharing; If I like something, I don’t want to give it away. Get your own!

lotte and carrots

On my recent visit, courses ranged from asparagus with black truffles and a brilliant-orange poached egg, scallops in lemon emulsion with tiny spinach and tangy sorrel leaves (at least I think they were sorrel leaves), mulet (mullet) carpaccio with red currants and beets.

Quail came out with roasted spring onions, porcelet (suckling pig) was crisp-skinned and came with salsify, and lotte (monkfish) came out stacked with ribbons of heirloom carrots, which was as close as foofy as this kitchen gets. But it was a lovely way to serve beautiful multi-colored carrots, the pile of ribbons highlighting the contrasting colors of the roots.

6 paul bert - cheverny 6 paul bert - wine glasses

Everything is absolutely delicious, inventive, and I’ve sat there marveling at the chef and his assistants, quietly cooking and setting up plates of food on the counter, where one of the efficient servers grabs them and takes them to awaiting diners. You just don’t get this kind of food often in Paris, and it’s great that owner Bertrand Auboyneau (who owns Bistro Paul Bert and L’Cailler du Bistro, down the street) cast a wide net, all the way to Canada, to find such a talented chef.

We had a bottle of La Bodice Cheverny (€27) that was fine, and two glasses of Champagne (€10 each…hey, it was TGIF…) – the baguette had the gentle heat of piment d’Espelette, which I adored. Anxious to know what bakery it was from, they said they have it brought up from the Basque region, which they finish cooking in their own ovens.

porcelet with salsify and puree

Desserts were cubes of chocolate ganache with yogurt ice cream, and a lemon cannoli; a tube of shattering pastry filled with tangy lemon curd. On my previous visit to Le 6 Paul Bert, we had Topinambadour (Jerusalem artichoke) ice cream with white chocolate crumbles, which we ordered with a side of skepticism, and we were shocked (me, and the two people I was with, who were both seasoned cookbook editors) because it was absolutely outstanding. Le 6 Paul Bert is really an exceptional restaurant, with food better than that I’ve had a three-star restaurants, at everyday prices. When can I go back?


Le 6 Paul Bert
6, rue Paul Bert (11th)
01 43 79 14 32
Métro: Faidherbe-Chaligny

58 comments

  • I nearly couldn’t read this entry because of the first picture – if there is something I really, really, really can’t eat (like you and squid) it’s beetroot! But I pressed on, and I’m glad I did, as it sounds like a lovely restaurant. What did you say the address was? I have looked 3 times and can’t see it….

  • The second plate is so lovely..

  • I think someone in the NYTimes referred to the fussy food as “overly fingered.”

  • I would soooo lose marks on plating at Top Chef! hahaha I know someone who would fiddle so much with the plate, that makes me want to scream: “it’s mozzarella and tomatoes! Bring it to the table already!”
    Btw the baguette with piment d’Espelette sounds like a great idea and the topinambour ice cream seriously gave me goosebumps! I would love to try that!

  • Mon Dieu, the first plate had my attention immediately, but the second and third plates really reeled me in. What lovely pictures! What is the meat on the third plate? I could not agree more about having my food fussed over and micromanaged until I want to scream, just bring the plate already! Presentation is a component, not the finish. It matters not if the plate is perfectly arranged if the food is subpar. This place is definitely going into my notebook for my next trip. Thanks, Claire

  • Anja: I don’t mind if people spend time on presentation, but I recently ate at a place in Paris and the kitchen was spending an inordinate amount of time on the plates – wiping the rims, putting things just-so, etc..and the food was just, um, okay. I wanted to let them know that it’s fine to spend that time getting the food right and tasting good, rather than fussing over what-goes-where on the plate.

    Annanbel: The address of the restaurant is the name. I added it to the end as well.

    Claire: That is the porcelet. It was hard to take pictures at night in the restaurant with the low light (and the Champagne and wine!)

  • I totally agree with you on this. I loved every bite at le 6, and thought that, plus the ease of reservation + friendly service + relaxed atmosphere made this one of my preferred meals so far this year. I had a couple friends saying it’s just ‘meh’, and saying that rather go to Frenchie Bar a Vins or something (don’t get me wrong, love that place)… but I disagree… like I prefer le 6′s version of sweetbreads…but I also prefer the atmosphere here. My friend was nearly an hour late to meet me for our reservation, and the staff was SO kind to me, dropping by so I wouldn’t feel lonely… I don’t know a lot of restaurants like that…

  • I’m never sure about places where they stack the food (photo 3), except where they put a fine piece of well flavoured meat on mashed potato, I can’t bare to see the gravy wasted and most of my friends object to me licking the plate. Do you think it added to the experience here?

  • We’ll have to try it next time we’re in Paris.

    I do have to say that we had one of the worst service experiences at Bistro Paul Bert, where after waiting for 45 minutes for each course, we politely how when they expected the dessert to come out (there were only three tables with customers in the whole restaurant), and the manager actually yelled at us “What do you want sir? This is a restaurant!” Hopefully the service at Le 6 Paul Bert is better.

  • Caroline: I found the staff really nice, and the two of the servers were really hustling to get all the food out and the customers orders in. (When people say the French are lazy, I often point to restaurant workers like the two of them, taking care of an entire dining room – in the US, there would be 8-10 people working in a dining room like this!)

    One thing I do worry about is that the newer crop of “good” restaurants in Paris, they start attracting a certain crowd that is just (or more) concerned with dining out as they are with running outside and checking their Blackberries and smoking, when the cooks and chefs are trying to send out great food, so it’s hot and arrives when it’s at their peak. I know it’s hard, but I’m thinking that at some point, there must be some way to remind people that as a courtesy to the cooks, they reduce the time they spend outside so they can have the best possible experience.

    BLW: I’ve heard some reports of mixed service, although have not experienced it myself. Sorry that happened to you there and it’s unfortunate.

    Stephen: This was the only stacked item. Most French folks use bread to sop up juices and since they had such good bread (the other one which I didn’t mention was from Poujarain), so no one seemed to mind.

  • I agree that presentation is important, of course. But I also trailed in the kitchen at one of the top 3 restaurants in NY for a couple of days once, and the chefs were butterflying each haricot vert and making sure the seeds were evenly spaced. Their food is spectacularly delicious, but that’s just too much touching….

  • This looks sooo scrumptious and makes my urge to go back to Paris even stronger. Excuse me while I curse the bowl of cereal I am currently eating….

  • I would have fared better had I tagged along with you instead of my disappointing pizza joint but this gives me proper motivation to go back =)

  • Plates and formulae remind me of Gary Danko!

  • OMG…. :) – Breathtaking food and awesome reporting – never mind the glorious pixies – Bon appétit…. I just hope to have a chance to eat there rather sooner than later – sadly, a simple TGIF won’t justify spending that money here, but I’m sure I’ll find a reason quickly enough – merci beaucoup David, beaucoup de belles et bonnes choses viennent du Québec!!

  • Wasn’t it Julia Child who said that an overly fancy plate just meant that someone has had their fingers all over your food?? I agree, too pretty is just too much. We go to museums for art; we go to restaurants for food!

    And this looks like excellent food, indeed!

  • David….I could not agree more…about good food and have a nice presentation, but NOT micromanaged the artistic plate presentation…and find that on such “beautiful plates” each bite was only steamed and not seasoned at all…it leaves me with a totally disappointed and almost angry feeling that I was “mistreated.” I have at times like that…started seasoning my food on such plates with salt and pepper – sometimes I add the wine I am drinking into soups..or sauces…with a dismayed look of the server…..I have given such servers my card…to give to the chef…and tell them thatt the chef could come and talk with me if he would like…..
    But….as I think about this problem……I find that we as cooking teachers need to stress the importance of “tasting” when we cook our food….I know so many people who follow each step in a recipe but never taste anything they are cooking.
    Because the authors of cookbooks never include that “tasting” is an important ingredient in the recipe….They completely trust the author…that is is 100 % correct….because they stipulate that each recipe has been tested and tried by many people before it is published….

  • David,
    We will be making reservations and will report back. Thank you for the photos and descriptions. Excited to try it out!

  • I’ve only been to two michelin starred restaurants in my life, and although the food was spectacular, I would never label either meal as one of the best meals of my life. Presentation should only be used to show off the ingredients, not the surgical precision of the tweezering chefs, at least in my opinion.

    This places looks wonderful and as if it truly cares about the food it creates and the people it serves. Food is for eating and we must always remember that.

  • i try not to think about how much my food has been handled when it is set before me.

    and it would be redundant to further say…..how desperate i am to go to paris to eat!

  • The food looks scrumptious and I trust your taste that it was! In addition to food much better than I can make at home and good service, for me tablecloths are also a necessary part of the atmosphere.

  • Great review of the restaurant. I’m starting to make my list of restaurants for our upcoming trip to Paris and will definitely include this one. My only concern is that there might not be enough plates for me to choose from as I don’t eat any seafood, my husband does. It doesn’t look like there is a menu online. Would you still suggest for someone like me that doesn’t eat seafood?

    Thanks!

  • What delicious looking plates! Wish I had known about this restaurant when I was last in Paris! Questions/observations. The 1st pic, at first glance it looked like fresh grapefruit slices, which would have also been delicious…then, I thought, peaches? No, not in season yet, but also a great idea. Finally I realized it was fish served carpaccio. Excellent idea, so delicious. Next photo, the carrots look like they are done 3 ways? mashed on the bottom, then coin-sliced, then strips? What is the yellow sauce? Wonder if they were all cooked differently? Loved the look. On the pork, what is the round dark moist looking saucy thing that is at the left front of the plate. And, last, what is the course powder that is spilling down the meat at the front? And, I am afraid I can’t feel as though I have finished this meal without a pic of the dessert! Also would love a recipe for that sun chokes ice cream… You never fail!

  • Looks wonderful thank you. I am skeptical about the ice cream but that’s what good restaurants are for trying different wine and food.
    Btw still getting pop-up on iPhone today
    was an ad for Kroger grocery store in Spanish…

  • Are you by any chance planning a restaurant guide to Paris? It would be really welcome; your taste is just great– judging by your writing.

  • I love the way you write about your restaurant experiences, so much so that I have a running spreadsheet of all your favourite restaurants so I know where to visit when Im next in Paris. YUM!

  • Just read the January review of 6, Paul Bert in Le Monde! Sound wonderful from your description and the one in Le Monde. This is going on my list of musts for our next visit to Paris, hopefully soon!

  • The most overly twiddled food I’ve had was at e, the 12-seater “secret restaurant” within Jose Andres’s place Jaleo in Las Vegas. The servers plated in front of us and most of it, I kid you not, was done with tweezers. That’s way too much for me. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the food had lived up to it, but while some was good, some couses were only average and one was actually bad (rubbery lobster). It HAS to be flavour first!

  • Bistro Paul Bert in the Clignancourt market is completely different. Anyone who goes there should be prepared to have the waiters treat them like dirt…unless you speak French and can either make them laugh,(with you), or rip them another one in their own tongue. I’ve done both and believe me…it works! As to 6, Paul Bert-it sounds and looks dee-vine from the pix and your description, David. I’ll certainly note it and try to get there the next time we’re in Paris. What I’m really waiting for is a review of a restaurant in Brest that you find amazing. Then, I could drive over in a few minutes to try it. Hope you get to Brittany sometime soon!

  • Québec is a great place for cuisine, thank you for acknowledging it over and over!

  • Sounds lovely. As much as I admire beautiful presentation I also think that when it gets to the point that tweezers are being used its a little too much. The ribbons of carrots are quite pretty though :)

  • Thank you David for this post, i am dreaming about this place now :-) … i hope to be in Paris the third week of May and will try to get a reservation for dinner or lunch.

  • Mmm, lovely. I agree with the sharing policy. As much as I would love to share (so I can try more things) I kind of hate it when other people eat my food! So, maybe THEY can share with ME, and I don’t have to share with them? ;)

  • Presentation should always be secondary from taste. After all, I’m not willing to pay just for a perfect slices of garnish.

  • jerusalem artichoke ice cream…wow. this all sounds incredible.

  • Blistering article. Couldn’t agree more. Brilliant food, perfect place, love it.
    Please tell me what you think of Akrame? If you haven’t been, I envy you, it’s an incredible experience. Would love to talk food with you!
    Best, Raphaële

  • Thank you for the heads up David… this restaurant sounds just about perfect.. and that’s not easy to find… :) xv

  • I am delighted that you made reference to the Quebec training of the chef! There are amazing, exquisite, wonderful restaurants in Quebec (in the whole province, actually). If that is where this chef learned his trade, it’s no wonder that the food tastes great.

    Thanks again, David, for your always-interesting content and fabulous pictures. You really make me want to jump in a plane this instant, to experience what you experience. Alas, several more months before my next visit to Paris.

  • Dear David, once again grateful for your appreciation of the Québécois contribution to cuisine (and I daresay, working in that field on a shoestring and in four languages, to culture in general).

    And as I read about the fractious debates south of the border, I am so very proud that we were the first jurisdiction in North America to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. I’m not gay, but have many friends who are gay men and lesbians, and their contribution to our modern society (we were once so churchbound in a sense that had nothing to do with injunctions to love one’s neighbour) has been immense.

    I’ve been eating simple but good homemade food – a roast chicken leg (made a few in my little convection oven) from a nearby Moroccan butcher at Marché Jean-Talon, some sautéed chard with garlic and olive oil and a slightly marinated grated salad of carrot and tender cabbage. And good bread of course.

  • lagatta: I was in Montreal once and was blown away by the great food. You are lucky to live there! It is interesting to see the debate taking place in France, a country where marriage historically was for things other than love (land and property, family name, power, money, etc) – not that those things are specific to France, but much of how Europe looks today is because of arranged marriages, royalty, and so forth.

    Raphaele and Kiran: Not meant to be blistering, but it’s frustrating when you go to a highly touted restaurant and the food isn’t all that great. At 6 Paul Bert, the focus is on the food, as it should be.

    Betsey: I don’t go up to Clignancourt but have heard mixed things about the restaurant. Still, I’d like to try it someday. But it’s kind of a schlep.

  • I’ve been watching this season’s Top Chef France and I am amazed how much more emphasis is put on the plating than the flavors. Of course I can’t taste the food, so I can only go by the comments the judges are making. But there have been several times that they have made comments that one dish had better flavor but just wasn’t plated/presented as well and they’ll give the win to the “prettier” plate not to the “tastier” plate. Sure, presentation is a part of the dining out experience, but in the end I’m there to eat and for the flavors.

    • A friend who teaches cooking in France said so many young people want to be “top chefs” now because of the show. But being a chef is, most importantly, producing good food. The people who do it well are the most successful (well, most of the time…) I’ve had some beautifully presented food that was outstanding, such as desserts by pastry chef Janice Wong from Singapore and at Ubuntu in the Napa Valley, so it can be done.

  • We have a reservation tomorrow night, and are very much looking forward to it (and it’s only two stops from our local métro station – bonus!). Thanks for the review.

  • I used to live vigorously though you!

    Finally, I’m so glad to say that I’ll be coming to Paris for the very first time to attend a culinary school in September. ( super super suuuuuuuupppperrr excited)
    I need to brush up on my french though.
    I’ll compile a list based on your site of things to devour and places to visit. Any tips for a student moving to Paris and living on a budget =)?

  • I find the elaborately stacked presentations frustrating because they are hard to eat. The minute you try to cut into the stack or extract a forkfull the whole creation falls apart into an anonymous scramble and you often don’t really know what is in each forkfull.

    Seems to me a more horizontal artistic arrangement would be equally attractive, easier to eat, and enable appreciation of each component.

  • I am going in October and this place will definitely be on my list!

  • David, Don’t get me wrong, I agree, I have had some amazingly presented and incredibly delicious plates. You can have the best of both. I was just surprised to see how much emphasis the French version of the show put on the plating.

    I can see the appeal of the show for a young chef, the publicity and exposure you get is tremendous. It must bring in a whole new client base, I know I am plotting to go to the Family Ferme-Auberge of one of the candidates up in northern France (not far from my Belgian In-laws).

  • David
    Good morning from Los Angeles. We are arriving in Paris on April 28 in time to celebrate my birthday on April 30. I called, Le Comptoir but they are booked until October. Is there a comparable restaurant in the City that you would recommend?

    Thank you.
    Deborah

    • Booked until October?? I’ve not heard of a single restaurant in Paris that is booked 7 months in advance. Sounds odd to me… Try the ones listed on My Paris page, or this one. For classic upscale bistro, Chez Dumonet is fun, as is the Bistro Paul Bert, Chardenoux (right down the street from Paul Bert), or Rôtisserie Beaujolais. Chez Denise is bustling, although not as upscale as Le Comptoir.

  • Call me a philistine if you wish but I pay for quality, fine tasting food and I fail to see the attraction of meals presented as though they are still life paintings.

    I am all for good presentation but I would prefer succulent fish and chips out of newspaper to some fancy dan meal dotted on a plate in psychedelic colors.

    I also find the latter overpriced.

    Ok blast away I can take it!!!!!!!!!

  • Very nice picture, inspiration for a new plate, I think you’re right about some chef overdo the plate, but you can not just put the food on without thinking the whole picture, but the most importent will allways be the food itself and the taste. I’ve been traveling for many years to France, but I the last 3 years a lot in Spain. It’s a whole other nature for the food, the simplicity and only thinking good quality, here you can taste the ham, the tomato. In France I just love the composition on the plate. And I love the pictures on this blog
    very inspiring

  • Thank you for the recommendation/review. My husband and I went last night and thoroughly enjoyed our meal and the experience as a whole.

  • I will be in Paris in May and want to make reservations. Should I make them now or wait until I arrive?

    • I don’t know how far out they take reservations, but because there are not a lot of these small restaurants like this, I would recommend reserving in advance. You should call to find out their policy but most of these types of places book at least a week in advance, especially on weekends. Lunch is another possibility and restaurants can be easier to get into then.

  • I just called Le Comptoir for a late June reseravation and was told they were booked until November – November! So I called le 6 Paul Bert and was told it was way too early for a reservation – lol! They said call a month before. Somewhere out there is a restaurant ready for my reservation so I can sleep knowing that one sweet night is in the bag!

  • I will try it this night… I cant wait!

  • Have reservations for my birthday weekend in May. I am very excited!!

  • Le 6 Paul Bert was an excellent recommendation. I went with two French friends who both enjoyed the experience a great deal.

    Much of the food was reminiscent of traditional French food cooked with a much more modern slant. All the food was incredibly fresh and beautifully cooked. My friend most enjoyed the “Foie d’Agneau” and I thought the “La Glace de l’huile d’olive avec pamplemousse” was delicious. A beautiful wine selection as well.

    Reserving a table is a must, a number of people came throughout the night looking for a spontaneous meal and that was a Tuesday night.

    Great restaraunt for those intriguied by adventurous food! Many thanks for the lovely post!