Best Bites Abroad, Paris – Part 2

I love reading about food, farmers markets and wonderful restaurants almost as much as I enjoy going to them. 

I keep a fantasy list of places to eat for unplanned future trips to places far away that I hope to get to. I tuck away my list of bakeries, food stands, restaurants and eateries, and as I do, the food journey begins. These potential spots wait in my food field trip file as a sort of percolator of future dreams.

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Bistro Paul Bert is a place that comes up often, especially in lists made by chefs. It looks like my idea of a great French bistro, then solidly backs it up with its consistent, time-honored French food. It is Paris through and through, though you will hear English spoken, as well as many other languages, as everyone loves this gem. Although I am a purist, I’m not a gal who gravitates toward super-fine, high-level, white-glove dining, which is why I love a bistro–they are so unfussy. I prefer unpretentious restaurants filled with real people; I like to talk to food-lovers about the food, I prefer waiters who are approachable, and I like being able to lean over and ask the person at the table next to me what they love and what they recommend. Crowded, popular, a little noisy, Bistro Paul Bert has tables so close together that there’s always the possibility of sitting next to interesting diners from a faraway land who you may end up sharing a rather intimate evening with.

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Some of my favorite bites in Paris this spring were, well, everything thing we ate at Le Bistro Paul Bert.

This classic Paris bistro feels like it’s been around forever with its amazing simple bistro fare, flawlessly executed. The waiter brings the daily menu on a large chalkboard and leans it on your table–once it comes you need to make your decision quickly because the next table needs the chalkboard too.  I love when a restaurant concentrates on the ten or twelve dishes they execute flawlessly. There were three of us, and we each took advantage of three courses, so we tried a wide selection. The place itself is not a lot to look at, but the food that they do on a daily basis is solid: soulful, rich but not heavy, authentic.

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Spring asparagus with shavings of parmesan and a perfectly cooked egg on top began this feast. Standouts included the amazing sole meuirre, so simple, yet so complicated to execute perfectly. The scallops in the shell were like a little masterpiece of perfection in a butter sauce. The monkfish fritters were crunchy and light, served with a homemade tartar sauce. We split a thick medium rare ribeye on the bone with a staggeringly good au jus. We pretty much had to fist fight over that ribeye. We ended with a chocolate soufflé and crepes Suzette: SO French, so exquisite, so perfect. It’s a must-do bistro for any trip to Paris, and I recommend making a reservation right this second.

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