Le Bistrot Paul Bert cooks up the classics simply and brilliantly on a quiet residential stretch in the 11th arrondissement. Bertrand Auboyneau, along with Chef Thierry Laurent, opened the bistro in 2000, and together they have created a dining room that’s loved by locals and buzzed about by visitors.
We arrived at Paul Bert ready to refuel after a long day of sightseeing. The Astronomer’s cousins who reside in Paris, Olivier and Francois, met us here for dinner.
Even though we had encountered a portable slate board menu earlier at Le Beurre Noisette, The Astronomer and I still got a kick out of seeing the clunky thing on our dinner table. The day’s offerings were scrawled on the board, and nearly everyone ordered the €36 set menu that included a starter, main course, and cheese or dessert. Since the restaurant’s famous steak wasn’t included in the formule, we ordered it a la carte.
Bread is the centerpiece of every French table, and Paul Bert’s loaves were excellent eaten plain or used to sop up saucy plates.
The Astronomer, my mom, and I shared two appetizers to start. The first was the carpaccio de boeuf au Parmesan, paper-thin slices of raw beef drizzled with olive oil and topped with mushrooms, greens, and halved caperberries.
The second starter was a petite omelette aux girolles, a buttery omelet studded with chanterelles and parsley. Both appetizers appeared to be straightforward at first glance, but exceeded our expectations due to the fantastic local ingredients that went into making them. I loved being blown away by the simplest dishes meal after meal while in France.
For her main course, my mom chose the petites soles de la cotiniere au beurre citronne. The bone-in filets were cooked beautifully and sauced with butter and lemon.
Served alongside the fish were baby new potatoes; their waxy flesh soaked up the butter and seasonings like a sponge. This marked the beginning of our love affair with France’s potatoes.
I indulged in a hefty plate of tartare de boeuf, which was served with fries and a salad on the side. While I loved the first dozen or so bites of the tartare, I couldn’t quite finish it due to the overwhelmingly spicy seasonings. It turns out that French mustard is too assertive for me and my sinuses.
The fries served alongside the tartare were crisp, golden, and moreish to the extreme. Dipping them in the béarnaise sauce that was served with the steak dialed everything up to eleven.
The salad was dressed in an easy vinaigrette with little croutons for crunch.
The highlight of the main courses was the pan-grilled rib steak with béarnaise sauce. The sear on the surface couldn’t be beat, while the flesh was saignant (bloody) just the way we ordered it. The steak’s slight chew, streaks of fat, and unabashedly beefy flavor made me want to fist pump and high-five my dining companions. Grrrr!
To finish, we selected four desserts to share. For the second night in a row, we dug into a magnificent Grand Marnier souffle. While the version at Restaurant Joséphine “Chez Dumonet” had intense boozy undertones, tonight’s was better balanced. Souffles never fail to put a smile on everyone’s faces.
We also shared three scoops of house-made ice cream: fromage blanc, cassis (black current), and coffee. The scoop of coffee was my favorite.
Another dish that looked deceptively simple but tasted shockingly delicious was the fresh strawberries with fromage blanc ice cream. Each berry was sweet as can be, while the fromage blanc brought a creamy tartness to the bowl.
And finally we shared a pitch perfect lemon tart with a flaky crust and curd so tart it made our tongues curl in delight.
While Paul Bert is most famous for its steak and frites, we found most everything to be top notch from beginning to end. Future trips to Paris will always include a meal at this bustling neighborhood bistro. Note to self: don’t forget to order the Paris-Brest next time!
Le Bistrot Paul Bert
18 rue Paul Bert
75011 Paris, France
Phone: 01 43 72 24 01
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