The bar at La Cave du Paul Bert.
The wine bar La Cave du Paul Bert is so new that the sign painter was still tracing out letters on the front windows when we arrived last week. Judging by the meal we had, however, you would never have known that this was a new restaurant, so assured was the preparation of each creative dish we tasted.
The tiny place reminded me of Yves Camdeborde’s L’Avant Comptoir in the sixth arrondissement. It has a total of only six stools, but the waitress noted that there was standing room for many more. Still, I was glad that we had arrived early (12:30) for lunch and had prime seats at the bar.
We got up to study the blackboard menus, chose four “tapas” dishes to share, then moved on to the list of wines by the glass. When we asked about the 2013 Abouriou, a red from Muscadet country, the waitress immediately offered us a taste, noting that it was not to everyone’s liking. It was light and very acidic. My friend opted instead for the 2013 Canon from La Grande Colline, a slightly fizzy wine that she found a bit off-putting at first but that grew on her. I had Jean-Claude Lapalu’s lovely 2014 Brouilly Vieilles Vignes. Many of the wines on offer are “natural” or organic, but not all of them.
All of the four dishes we ordered were excellent, but two of them really stood out for us. The first was the mackerel en escabeche (marinated) with potatoes, carrots and chive
cream. Fresh and refreshingly delicious. The other was a truly exceptional grilled endive salad. While it doesn’t sound very exciting, it was pure pleasure, perfectly seasoned and
dolled up with raisins, hazelnuts, almonds and pine nuts. It was so good that I thought the addition of veal marrow was an unnecessary flourish, but perhaps it contributed to the overall wonderful flavor.
The other two dishes were a pressé of venison
with sauce gribiche (a mustardy vinaigrette made with hard-boiled eggs) and marinated turnips. A very fine version of a traditional dish. The excellent sweetbreads were given a welcome modern touch with yogurt and fresh mint, which nicely cut their richness. We absolutely loved the roasted Jerusalem
artichoke that came with it, a treatment of this trendy winter vegetable neither of us had ever seen before.
The dessert was another original: a light interpretation of a cannolo consisting of a
rolled up tuile (wafer cookie) filled with tangy lemon curd. Delightful and light.
I have a feeling that once the word gets out, this addition to the expanding restaurant empire that has grown up on the same street around the famed Bistrot Paul Bert (including L’Ecailler du Bistrot and Le 6 Paul Bert, all with the same owners as the new Cave du Paul Bert) will be packed at mealtimes. There is hope for a quiet snack in the new establish-
ment, however: cheese and charcuterie – and wine, of course – are served all day long.