Bistro Paul Bert has ranked consistently high as one of Paris’ top bistros by Paris food experts and critics, the media and Parisian based bloggers such as ParisByMouth, GirlsGuidetoParis, the acclaimed American food writer and cook now residing in Paris, DavidLebovitz, WendyLyn from Paris Is My Kitchen who provides reviews and food tours in Paris as well as food writer AlexanderLobrano. Indeed, ask any Parisian foodie about Bistro Paul Bert and I promise you, each and everyone has not only heard of this quintessential Parisian bistro but eaten there several times…..it has become something of a legend for its classic French comforting food.
There was no doubt whatsoever that it would be top of my list of places to eat in Paris and I was extremely lucky to secure a booking when I visited Paris in October with my teenagers. Mentioning the food served at Paul Bert to two growing and very greedy teens had them literally salivating at the prospect of proper steak and frites as I was too.
Bistro Paul Bert is in the 11th arrondissement in the Bastille district which is adjacent to the 3rd & 4th (the Marais) where we were staying on rue Paul Bert hence its name. It’s a heart-warming bistro with old-school chalkboards featuring the menu, simple décor and updated classic French food. The atmosphere is laid back, casual and very welcoming, a lot of its diners are Parisians, the absence of tourists is welcoming, Paul Bert is a hit with the locals and that’s good enough for me. Paul Bert is owned by Bertrand Auboyneau who owns another restaurant a few doors down called Le 6 Paul Bert which is a more upmarket restaurant featuring a more European-type menu with small modern plates, in fact, my husband and I ate here in 2014 and were very impressed.
WHAT WE ATE
With classic French fare such as brains and veal sweetbreads, suckling pig, scallops, oysters, foie gras, steak tartar, all manner of fish and cheese, starters such as eggs topped with shaved truffle and the most amazing desserts for example, huge floating islands, Grand Marnier soufflé, Tarte Tatin and Paris Brest. But their signature dish is the Steak au Poivre and Frites which is always served rare to medium, it’s sacrilege to ask for a steak well done, you’ll probably be chucked out, it isn’t their signature dish for nothing. Menus are on a chalkboard with starter (entrée) main (plat) and dessert (dessert) prix-fixe (set menu) starting at very reasonable 38 euros per person however some dishes have a premium to pay such as the steak. Produce is fresh and seasonal, and the menu can change if not daily, frequently depending on what’s in season.
Our waiter arrived with a very good knowledge of English and explained how the menu works and what dishes have a premium. While my kids enjoyed a soft drink, I ordered a glass of white Sancerre which is very much a house wine in many Parisian brasseries and bistros. We didn’t want to overfill on starters because we wanted to enjoy our steak, so we ordered two foie gras to share between us. My kids also enjoy this frowned-upon French delicacy, it came in the usual terrine style with plenty of light crunchy bread and chutney to enjoy, it was delicious as always, melt in the mouth and luscious.
For our mains, it was steak all the way! We asked for this to be medium which is perfectly acceptable in Paris however ask for anything more and you will not be served. If you want your beef cremated, don’t bother asking for steak in Paris or anywhere else in France, it’s a definite no no as I explained earlier. Bistro Paul Bert’s signature is the pepper steak and Grand Marnier soufflé, so this is what we chose to eat although the kids both chose floating islands for their dessert or to give it its proper name, oeufs a la neige.
Our mouths were left gaping open at the sight of this majestic food, sitting magnificently in the centre of the plate, a succulent looking fillet steak surrounded by a pool of creamy peppery cognac sauce and a plateful of perfectly crisp golden brown frites to dip into the sublime sauce. The steak was butter soft with knife gliding effortlessly through, it was a sheer delight to the senses. I don’t think I have ever tasted anything quite as delicious, my kids in complete agreement. My daughter, only 15 managed to finish the lot and all our plates were left embarrassingly clean, this was the undoubtedly the best steak we had ever had.
Dessert is something we always look forward to, knowing the soufflé had alcohol in it, it was not to my son or daughters liking not that they’ve never tasted alcohol before, but I suppose their taste buds aren’t as refined as mine, they preferred the sound of the floating islands! What arrived was nothing short of astonishing, the largest floating islands we had ever seen, a gorgeous triangular-shaped cloud of the lightest meringue in a silky soft soup of crème anglais topped with almonds. With not a sound coming from them both, I knew they were in dessert heaven, both agreed it was the best dessert they had ever had during their two visits to Paris. Meanwhile my soufflé was a sight to behold, standing high as every soufflé should be and as light as a feather with a delicious fragrant orange taste with a hint of that lovely sweet Grand Marnier liqueur, I was suitably impressed.
My children and I left feeling extremely satisfied and deliciously full, Bistro Paul Bert is somewhere they’d like to return to if they come to Paris with me again. Jovial waiters with a good command of English, quintessential Parisian décor and a buzzing friendly atmosphere with authentic, delicious bistro food, what’s not to like at Bistro Paul Bert. Bertrand Auboyneau has restaurants on the same street, Le Six Paul Bert at number 6, Le Cave du Paul Bert at number 16 (mainly a casual wine bar offering small plates, light lunches and fabulous wines to match) and L’Ecailler du Paul Bert at number 22 focusing on fish and seafood so if you’re an oyster lover like me, this is your place. I vowed that I would come here again with my husband on a longer trip to Paris trip, but with a list as long as my arm, I need to squeeze Paul Bert in my list once again. For a meal so unforgettable, it deserves its accolade as one of Paris’ top bistros.
Paul Bert do not have a website however Bertrand Auboyneau has a cookery book, French Bistro: Seasonal Recipes which you can purchase by clicking on the highlighted text French Bistro: Seasonal Recipes
Bistro Paul Bert
18 rue Paul Bert
33 1 43 72 24 01
Closed Sunday and Monday – Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, book several days in advance to secure a table.