My first meal at this restaurant took place many years ago, during my second-ever visit to Paris. I was lucky enough to be staying with friends who lived in Paris and loved to eat—friends who knew about special places like Le Bistrot Paul Bert. Memory is patchy, but a few first impressions have stuck with me: the warm and sweetly worn decor, the generous cooking and the delightful absence of other tourists.
Years later, shortly after moving here, I met a woman at a party who turned out to be the food editor for Time Out Paris. I asked her, as I’m sure everyone does, to recommend one really special place that I could afford. After a moment of appraisal (in which she might have seen that I was both eager and broke), she decided upon Le Bistrot Paul Bert.
Those early visits were a real challenge for my French because, aside from steak frites and a few other classics, the menu was packed with dishes that I had never heard of. I remember flipping fervently through my French-English food glossary—printed from Patricia Wells’s site in the smallest possible type—trying to translate the nose-to-tail fare.
My French may have improved over the years, but their affordable carte continues to stump and amuse. A recent visit required the putting together of several foodie heads to decide that hure de cochon might be some sort of jellied hog’s head terrine (it was), and that a croustillant de groin de cochon could be crispy-fried pig snout. Complemented by sturdy offerings like andouillette and foie de veau, the menu here begins to look like quite the barnyard extravaganza.