Now that the blogger buzz over the opening of Le 6 Paul Bert a few months ago has died down, it seemed like a good time to try out this acclaimed new addition to Bertrand Auboyneau’s small empire, which began with the reliably good Bistrot Paul Bert at no. 18, rue Paul Bert, then expanded next door with the seafood restaurant L’Ecailler du Bistrot and now has a new baby bistro at no. 6.
And what a lovely baby it is! On the left when you enter is a deli case full of tempting hams and other goodies, next to a bar over which hangs a string of light bulbs in wine bottles of various shapes. Facing them is a row of red tables in front of a big picture window. At the back is the open kitchen, all stainless steel, where the chef and his assistants labor away.
The real beauty, however, is in the food, much more sophisticated than what is served up at the Bistrot Paul Bert. There are no separate lists of starters and main courses on the menu du jour, just a list of 10 dishes priced at between €12 and €17. You can choose à la carte from these options or order any three of them plus dessert for a set price of €38. My dinner companion, Susan Stamberg of National Public Radio fame, and I chose the latter so that we could taste as many dishes as possible. In case that sounds like too much, rest assured that these are small plates (those who ordered à la carte seemed to get larger helpings of the same dishes).
Susan went all fishy, ordering the barbue (brill) with white asparagus and lemon (actually a very lemony mayonnaise); the daurade (sea bream) with aioli, baby turnips and green asparagus; and lotte (monkfish) with
green onions. ’She really likes fish,’ the waiter commented, rather disapprovingly, when we ordered. She does, and she loved all of them, but especially the sea bream, and was thrilled with the various high-quality vegetables they came with, every one cooked to perfection, as was the fish.
I mixed it up a bit more. The first dish to arrive was monkfish liver with smoked leeks and
bone-marrow bouillon. It was exquisite, a three-star dish. The liver had a mild, slightly fishy, slightly meaty flavor and the accompaniments turned it into a blissful ménage à trois.
I lucked out again with the large, meaty morels from the Jura region of France, served with a
steamed egg yolk and comfrey, another three-star combination. The diner on my right, a self-described foodie from Germany with whom we later fell into conversation, loved it as much as I had and considered it the highlight of the meal. “It touched my mind and soul,” he said.
My third dish was yet another winner: half a baby pigeon (squab to the squeamish) with
roasted St. George’s mushrooms and lamier (deadnettle, a green with tiny purple flowers that was new to me). Each part of the bloody pigeon was luscious, and it was served with the liver chopped up into a stunningly good preparation.
The organic vin de table, Anagramme (€30), from Autour de Anne, suggested by the waiter, was a fine accompaniment to both the fish and the meaty dishes.
The desserts maintained the high standards set by these sterling dishes. The lemon cannoli
with fromage blanc sorbet was a dream, with the very tart lemon cream softened by the sorbet, and the cookie-like bitter chocolate ganache broken into rough pieces and served
with cocoa bean and olive oil sorbet was addictive.
A word for the excellent bread by Jean-Luc Poujauran: a dark, crusty one, and a peppery one, both good enough to make a meal on their own.
The service was not outgoingly friendly but was pleasant and unobtrusive. It sometimes seemed that we had to wait for a rather long time between courses, but we were so busy chatting with each other and our neighbors that we barely noticed.
Bravo to the young Canadian chef, Louis-Philippe Riel! I must go now and put Le 6 Paul Bert on my personal list of Paris favorites – and make a reservation to go back.Favorite