"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Le Bistro Paul Bert

18 Rue Paul Bert
Paris 75011
Tel: 33 1 43 72 24 01
Metro: Faidherbe-Chaligny

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays noon to 2 pm and 7:30 to 11 pm

Rating Standards: 4-Stars = Extraordinary; 3-Stars = Excellent; 2-Stars = Good; 1-Star = Fair; NO stars = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)


This Bistro has been reviewed off and on for years, and the reviews are all over the board. It appears that based on what I've read is you either like it or dislike this bistro.  We were 4: Eva our friend from New York, Shauna and Just Jack. 

It's actually quite a large restaurant. Very typically Parisian with long tables along a wall  with warm wood and it was quite cozy. They had an interesting wall (see picture right) of what appeared as antique refrigerators laid on top and next to each other. I was surprised to see they were also functioning refrigerators.

We arrived at noon and it was quite empty, but as we got closer to 12:30 pm, it became quite crowded. Interestingly enough, we were the only foreigners there.

We had time to peruse the menu.  They had a prix fixe menu for 34€ as well as a prix fixe lunch special for 16.50€ which seemed like a really good deal. We liked what we saw on the 16.50€  menu, so we all opted for that.

For the entrée three of us got the Petits poireaux au lard, which are leeks topped with a slice of bacon. It was a good dish, tasty with a nice vinaigrette dressing. A bit stringy, but that's the characteristics of leeks.

Eva got the got the créme de cepes, a mushroom soup. The soup looked very creamy and rich. Eva stated that the soup was very good.

Now this is where the plats get interesting, or more accurately "un-interesting." Jack and I both got the Echine de porc braisée et son embeurreé de chou vert, pork braised with buttered green cabbage. This dish looked good and it was a generous portion, but looks can be deceiving.  It was extremely bland. It tasted that like they just boiled it in water and forgot to put bouillon or some flavoring. I had to salt and pepper it several times to get some taste. Not a good dish at all.

Shauna and Eva both got the Poulet fermier rôti au jus, pommes grenailles, grilled chicken with au jus and potatoes. Presentation was good, again looks can be deceiving. Both Shauna and Eva said the chicken lacked flavor and was just that, plain boring chicken. In fact, Eva ate very little of this bland chicken.

Shauna commented that she was there last week and the food was good. Their specials change frequently.

For desserts, both Jack and Shauna got the Ananas Rôti aux epices, grilled pineapples with spices a scoop of ice cream. Jack thought the dessert was just OK, but felt it was sort of nondescript and described it as pineapple with honey and a scoop of tasteless ice cream.  Shauna liked it and thought it was good.

Eva had the Fondant au chocolat-et sa créme anglaise au basilic, a chocolate cake with a basil cream. Eva liked this dish and added you could taste the basil, and thought it was very good.

I had the cheese plate, and it was a nice selection. In my opinion you can't go wrong with cheese in France.

Overall we thought the food was a big disappointment. The soup, and the desserts do not "a meal make." Shauna has been to this restaurant several times and was just there this week and said it was much, much better.  Unfortunately, we were not so lucky.  I thought the food was boring, "tired", and just plain uninspiring. Although the price was very reasonable,  I lean with the group that disliked this bistro. With that said, I will not go back.

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