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Paris report -- Bistro Paul Bert

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Paris report -- Bistro Paul Bert

Bill Strzempek | Nov 21, 2005 01:02 PM

Some comments from Paris in October. I’m going to post other threads by restaurant since my
diaries are so long-winded. I went to three bistros for my first time, La Cerisaie, L’Avant Gout,
and Chez l’Ami Jean. L’Ami Jean was by far the standout, in fact the first dinner was so
astounding we squeezed in another visit later in the trip. I also returned to some of my favorite
haunts: Bistro Paul Bert, listed here, Le Tire Bouchon, Le Gavroche, Aux Lyonnais, La Poule au
Pot, La Coupole and Les Philosophes. Le Tire Bouchon again won hands down for value-priced inventive cuisine. Anyway, here’s the notes on Paul Bert.

BISTRO PAUL BERT
18, rue Paul Bert, 11e
Metro Faidherbe-Chaligny
01 43 72 24 01
Carte-menu 28 Euros, our total for two with alcohol, around 100 Euros

What a nice welcome back to Paris to eat here on our first night. The place seemed more roomy, less smoky, because it was warm out and the french doors were open with people dining at tables on the sidewalk.

After pastis and munching on olive tapenade and toast, we started with an unforgettably good puff pastry filled with cream, escargots and sot l’y laisse. This was one of those very simple dishes that is far greater than the sum of its delicious parts and which could be made at home if one had the wherewithal to dream it up in the first place. For those reaching for a dictionary, “sot l’y laisse” can be translated to mean “a fool [sot] leaves it there.” In this instance the fool would be leaving behind those two extremely yummy teaspoon-sized bits of chicken on either side of the back end of the bird’s spine. They’re the bits that savvy cooks grab when the carcass comes back from carving (I think these are called “chicken’s oysters” in some parts). Our starter was those savory and yummy bits, cream, escargots, seasoning, buttery flaky pastry. How can anyone hate the French?

For one main courses we had a coeur de boeuf au poivre served with a pot of mashed spuds, which was perfectly proper though nothing boundary-shattering. The other dish was “lievre avec fois gras” which was cholesterol count and conviction-shattering. It wasn’t the hare (which I chose as a nod to my doctor’s admonition to eat sensibly “over there”) which I found overwhelming. Nor was it the fois gras nestled inside the hare slices that I found too much to handle. It was the sauce which was pooled around these two that was too intense for me. Dark to the point of blackness, dense and rich to the point of wondering out loud, “who could finish a plateful of this??”. I feel pretty confident it was good ol’ blood and organs put through a sieve and puddled -- perhaps uncooked??-- on the plate. “This way lies cannibalism,” I thought, as I put down my fork and raised a white napkin in surrender.

To attempt to lighten the effect of that sauce I had a parfait of fromage blanc, strawberry chiffon and fresh raspberries, not exactly autumnal eating, but what the hell. My friend had roasted figs and vanilla ice cream which he said seemed even sweeter served with the satisfaction of seeing me finally put to the mat in a restaurant, and by a pool of sauce at that.

Incidentally, our wine was listed as a special, a 21 Euro St. Chinier, which fared no better than I
against that juggernaut of a sauce.

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