Bistrot Paul Bert

Paris Brest Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

Shortly after I had arrived in Paris, I was having dinner with Romain at Bistrot Paul Bert. Nearby, a couple was speaking English and when I struck up a conversation with them, I asked how they knew about the restaurant. They mentioned they saw it on a “Best of” list in a culinary/travel magazine. So it wasn’t a secret back then, nor it is now. And with good reason: It’s one of the most reliable, approachable, and consistently great French bistros in Paris.

Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

I was dining there recently with Alec Lobrano, Patricia Wells and Nathan Myhrvold of Modernist Cuisine while Nathan was in France doing research on a book about bread, which I suspect will be an incredible overview of breads not just from France, but from around the world. I gave him some addresses that I thought he might want to visit, although he’d obviously done his research and had a good list of bread bakeries he was planning to check out already. Then we had a little verbal back-and-forth about ice cream which prompted an invitation to visit his laboratory in Seattle, which I’m putting on my lengthy list of places that I want to go to.

Red wine at Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

Meanwhile, it was nice to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon in Paris with Patricia and Alec, both of who I’ve known for a while, and Nathan, who fit in easily as he enjoys good food (and wine) as much as we do. We started with a lovely Gauby Calcinaires Blanc, a very agreeable white wine whose mineral-rich flavor goes nicely with seafood, which Bistrot Paul Bert does very well.

Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in ParisAt some bistros, seafood is an afterthought, not really given its due, and meat gets most of the focus. But I love scallops and started with a platter of tender St. Jacques à la coque, scallops served in the shell with kari gosse, a spice mixture popular in Brittany. It’s a light blend of ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and chiles that accents – but doesn’t overwhelm – seafood. Of course, the scallops were also drenched in browned Brittany butter, which I’m no stranger to. And I made use of the bread in the basket to make sure not a drop of it was left in the shells.

Scallops at Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

A big platter with a couple of dozen Utah Beach and Belon oysters came out with mignonette sauce, and we dove into those as well.

Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

I continued to go with seafood for lunch and had the petites soles with lemon and butter. Out came a very large portion of two perfectly cooked and boned filets sautéed in butter with a flurry of parsley, accompanied by pan-fried potatoes. Speaking of potatoes, one of the great treats at Bistrot Paul Bert are the French fries, made in-house (which are becoming more and more of a rarity in France), and it’s also rare to be able to get them at the restaurant without ordering the steak tartar, the entrecôte steak, or the massive côte de bœuf for two, which they will only serve rare or medium-rare.

Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

Sole at Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

On numerous occasions, I’ve tried to talk them into giving me frites without the beef, and the only other time I ever got them, I was with Aisha Tyler, who was shooting a television program in Paris. She was really great, and being a San Franciscan, loved to eat, too. French people in the restaurant had noticed her, which surprised me but she said she played a lab tech on CSI, which is a very popular program in France, known as Les experts. We got fries then, and we got fries this time. So if you go, bring along a celebrity, culinary or otherwise.

Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

I was fortunate to be with my own set of les experts (as in, expert eaters) and no one begged off on dessert. Whew! Because the desserts at Bistrot Paul Bert are all made in-house, and perfect renditions of French classics. They range from a dreamy Soufflé au Grand Marnier, to one of my all-time favorite desserts, Île Flottante, a Floating Island showered in colorful pralines roses and toasted almonds, swimming in a pool of cold crème anglaise. I’m not a big fan of sharing plates, but had to offer my friends some because it was too good not to. And I wanted to be polite, and possibly invited back.

Floating island at Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

Which was nice, because I got a taste of the Paris-Brest, one of the best desserts in Paris (shown at the top of the post.) This circular wheel of pastry is filled with hazelnut praline cream, and if one person can get through it by themselves after eating dinner here, I’d like to meet that person. (But I don’t want to dine with them because I want to eat with someone who would share it with me – unless they could get extra frites on the side. Then I’m in.)

French cheeses at Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

For those looking for an abundant cheese platter, that’s another possibility here in lieu of dessert on the €38 fixed-price lunch menu. I wouldn’t mind that either, and in fact, you can go for both – if you can handle it.

Bistrot Paul Bert restaurant in Paris

Bistrot Paul Bert
18, rue Paul Bert (11th)
Tél: 01 43 72 24 01
Métro: Faidherbe-Chaligny
Closed Sunday and Monday

(Note that Bistrot Paul Bert normally remains open in August.)

 

Related Paris Restaurant Links

The Aligre Market (Nearby market)

Le Louchébem

Les Provinces and Café des Abbatoirs

Astier

La Bourse et La Vie

Paris Restaurant Archives

My Paris (A frequently updated list of my favorite restaurants in Paris)

 

 


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28 comments

  • August 3, 2016 11:35am

    Oh my goodness. I am faint with hunger after salivating over your photos and descriptions. And what storied company you had with you! That must have struck fear in the hearts of the staff!
    That is an incredibly reasonable price for such a menu.

  • August 3, 2016 2:33pm

    When my husband and I spent three weeks in Paris, we went to Paul Bert based on a recommended restaurant list I found on your site (THANKS! That list is gold), and it (along with Les Papilles) was our favorite overall meal/experience of the trip. In fact, we loved Paul Bert so much, we went back again our last night. Such a special place!

  • August 3, 2016 3:36pm

    I went there two years ago because you and Anthony Bourdain (in his Paris episode of The Layover) recommended it. And I had a wonderful time. I was alone and was seated at the tiny table between the bar and the window, and the man who was both manning the bar and acting as the host (who I remember looked like the love child of Daniel Craig and Vincent Cassel) was kind enough to chat with me when he could as I was alone. I remember that I had a huge plate of beans with white truffle as a starter and the steak frites as my main.

    I initially asked if I could have a smaller portion of the beef, but Daniel/Vincent just told me to get the whole thing and leave what I can’t finish. Well, I finished the whole steak but couldn’t finish off the fries (I would’ve shared with you, David!). And thank goodness I saved room, as dessert was wonderful: a bowl of strawberries (it was just the start of summer) with cottage cheese ice cream. It was such a lovely experience although I don’t think I’ve ever been so full in my life. My family and I are planning a Paris trip later this year, and I really want to take them back with me!

  • August 3, 2016 4:50pm

    I always recommend this place and miss living just around the corner, when it was a neighborhood bistro. Now that it’s clear across town I haven’t been in ages.
    I’m happy to see that nothing has changed.

  • Bob
    August 3, 2016 5:36pm

    That neighborhood has an abundance of food riches. My wife and I recently stayed within walking distance of his restaurants. After much hemming and hawing and considering e menus for the evening, we went to 6 Paul Bert instead. A fantastic experience in many ways. We’re looking forward to being able to return in order to try his bistro (along with the many other food places we didn’t have time for).

  • Kiki
    August 3, 2016 7:06pm

    wow oh wow – apart from the oysters which I can’t eat, this is a total heavenly succes – AND with homemade frites too… can it get better than that? I might have taken a double/triple portion of sole instead of the starter and I’m putting this place on my wish list for when the time comes that somebody asks me ‘Where would you like to eat’. One can live in hope! I would def go for the yummy cheeses too. Thank you so much.

    Katrina; I loved reading your story. Says a lot about a place, this :)

  • Kiki
    August 3, 2016 7:07pm

    sorry for all the typos – I’m THAT starved now…

  • Shelley Sorani
    August 3, 2016 8:04pm

    Not a bad idea to be well known as an author in Paris and go to a restaurant like Paul Bert with Patricia Wells and Alec Lobrano. I have heard that the restaurant is very inconsistent. Bet you got the best of the best (including frites!!)

  • August 3, 2016 8:08pm
    David Lebovitz

    Katrina: Thanks for sharing your story.

    Shelley: I’ve been with visiting friends, and with my French partner, and had similar experience and food as we did on this visit…although we didn’t get the fries! : )

    They’ve been open a while (and they are often busy) and it’s likely things can be inconsistent. But I’ve had good experiences here.

    • Shelley Sorani
      August 4, 2016 7:08pm

      Thanks, David, for acknowledging my cynicism. We’ll try Paul Bert again. We’ve followed many, many of your recommendations and they’ve almost all been great. For years and years, up until last year, we had also been getting recommendations from a wonderful little lady who worked at Librairie Gourmand. Sadly she retired and has disappeared and now we are counting on YOU!!

  • Anne Kehoe
    August 3, 2016 10:33pm

    This is the perfect place for a lunch that I have been looking for David! I’m coming to Paris in mid September. Would I require a lunch reservation, or can I pop in? In addition, what may their hours be?

    • August 4, 2016 8:16am
      David Lebovitz

      Lunch is less-busy than dinner, but it’s always advisable to have a reservation at a restaurant in Paris since they like to know who is coming. (And if you can’t make it or your plans change, always nice to call and let them know, too.) I don’t know their exact hours but I linked to their Facebook page at the end of the post so you can check there for opening times.

  • andrea
    August 4, 2016 2:28am

    OH MY….PATRICIA WELLS????? Swooooooon……

  • Melanie
    August 4, 2016 4:53am

    The first and only time I visited Paris, we has dinner at Bistrot Paul Bert, and the experience produced a couple of the more memorable moments of our trip. For dessert I ordered a baba au rhum, which Id never had before, and I didn’t know what to expect. The thing was huge, probably 6″ in diameter, and drenched in rum. The funniest part? The waitress brought me a bottle of rum–I guess in case I wanted to pour more on it? Lol! That was also the night we almost missed the last metro ride of the day, and we were far from our hotel. Oh, the travel memories!

  • August 4, 2016 5:14am

    Best confit de canard I ever had on the lunch formule at #18 for a mere 19€ (3 courses). Can’t wait to go back.

  • suedoise
    August 4, 2016 11:27am

    magic magic David gros merci!!

  • Tamsin
    August 4, 2016 12:41pm

    What a fabulous meal! I would love to visit and try that Île Flottante – one of my favourite desserts.

    Do you think this is the kind of place where a well-behaved 19-month-old would be welcome for lunch? We’re planning a day trip to Paris as part of our holiday next month but I’m not sure where to book for lunch. Perhaps a picnic would be best. Of course I appreciate this is probably not something you have much experience with!

    • August 4, 2016 12:51pm
      David Lebovitz

      Most restaurant in Paris (except for fancy ones) are fine for kids, provided they are fine eating the kinds of foods served (shown). There aren’t kids menus often in Paris restaurants but servers will often do their best to be accommodating although kids should be prepared to eat what’s on the menu.

  • Ron Shapley
    August 5, 2016 4:00am

    Oh God !!! That Paris-Brest Oh God !!!!!

  • dotti cahill
    August 5, 2016 4:34am

    sounds like you had a nice lunch with Patricia and Nathan…YUMM

  • August 5, 2016 10:54am

    Oh, I am SO going to go there for a Grand Marnier Souffle when I get back to Paris in a couple of months. It is my all time favorite dessert and I haven’t had one in decades. No one serves them anymore. I used to get them at my favorite restaurant in New York, but it’s been so long that I can’t even remember the name (plus aging brains are frustrating). But they are now just open for lunch or something, and it doesn’t sound like they’d still serve it. sigh. If I could cook those, I’d be the size of a baby elephant.

  • Margo Thomas
    August 6, 2016 7:08pm

    How about a recipe for Paris-Brest W/hazelnut praline filling, s’il vous plait?????

    • August 6, 2016 7:17pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, there’s a recipe in my book, My Paris Kitchen – it’s called Paris-Paris because it has a swipe of chocolate on it. But you can do it without for a Paris-Brest.

  • Heart
    August 7, 2016 1:13am

    Nathan Myhrvold! The Einstein of food. Wow. You bump elbows with all the Great chefs.

    Love your blog/photos/writings. Salivate through your posts. Thank you!

  • Jessica H
    August 7, 2016 4:22am

    My husband, who is vegetarian, was offered a plate of frites (which were delicious) with his plat principal of vegetables when we dined there last spring. They were very kind in accommodating him with a special dish when there wasn’t a vegetarian main dish on the menu. The waitress saw him eating some of the frites that came with my steak and offered to bring him a plate for himself.

    The desserts there are definitely amazing. We shared the Grand Marnier soufflé. When I dined there alone in late May, I tried the soupe au fraise – fresh strawberry soup with cottage cheese ice cream. It was easily one of the most memorable dishes during a 6-week trip to France and Spain.

    Also, both times I’ve dined there the waitstaff have been so kind and welcoming and wine recommendations are always on point.

  • Ginny
    August 8, 2016 2:59pm

    Sounds wonderful, and we love the Gauby Calcinaires. We can get it here from Weygandt-Metzler and it is indeed fantastic with seafood!

  • August 9, 2016 2:02am

    Hi David: Love your blog and books and am in the business myself but have never commented before. Felt compelled this time as I was reading from the office of the home I purchased three weeks ago from Aisha Tyler! Small world…and this was just for you so no need to publish…

  • dotti cahill
    August 21, 2016 7:55pm

    Great article… i live going to lunch in France as it is usually cheaper than dinner!!

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