April 21 2014
UPDATE (Feb 2015): I went back to Le 6 Paul Bert for dinner with some friends two days ago. In the evening, the restaurant offers a prix fixe menu at 44 euros, comprising four courses (starter-fish-meat-dessert.) I understand they’re undergoing some staff changes in the kitchen… and unfortunately, it showed.
There were three choices for each course and being a group of 6 people, we ordered a bit of everything. This decision proved to be fortuitous as some dishes that we received were really not very good. I’m talking bitter winter leaves that were overly salted — think crunching down on a mouthful of rock salt. Veal that was tough and stringy and really not pleasant to eat. A financier made with different cereal grains that was so flat that two of us didn’t even finish.
Still, service was very pleasant, as usual, and the wines were great. Special mention also to the Sicilian cannoli with a punchy lemon cream filling that was absolutely delicious.
I used to recommend this restaurant fervently but I think my ardour has been somewhat extinguished after this latest experience.
APRIL 2014: I have been a fervent supporter of the Vélib – the Paris bike-share programme. For just half the price of a monthly Navigo pass, I’m able to nip around this beautiful city first thing in the morning before it wakes up and late at night after the last métro (n.b. to avoid unwanted advances, much better for a girl to take a bike than attempting to walk home.) It’s also useful (and often faster) when you’re going to a part of the city which requires that you make two changes on the métro.
However, last Friday as I sat down at Le 6 Paul Bert to have lunch with an old university friend, I was shaking. You see, at the Faidherbe-Chaligny crossroads, just seconds earlier, I had been knocked off my Vélib by an oncoming motorcycle which was running a red light.
It happened as I was waiting in stationary traffic to turn left at the pedestrian crossing. I saw the white motorbike coming – because, as you can see, it’s a fairly wide junction – but I still don’t know how it was able to get at an angle which would have clipped my back wheel and sent me flying. Incidentally, he didn’t stop after the accident.
With a bruised leg and grazed hand but fortunately nothing worse, I sat down at the table, so ready for the royal feast that I was about to be treated to.
Le 6 Paul Bert is owned by the same Bertrand Auboyneau who made his name at the Bistrot Paul Bert just a few doors down on the same street. Unlike the Bistrot’s classic but hearty cuisine, Le 6 serves up small, light dishes with inventive combinations.
It’s a narrow space; a traditional zinc-topped bar on one side and a line of lipstick-red tables on the other. At the end, you see the open kitchen where Louis-Philippe presides.
The 19 euros lunch menu (entrée+plat+dessert) is a steal. The options are fairly limited – just two options for each – but it’s so good, you don’t even need to choose.
A raw fish (one that I hadn’t heard of before) carpaccio, served with strawberries, basil, petit pois and asparagus. A skillful lesson in cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The main course of paleron de boeuf, carrots and garlic was suave as it was mouthwatering. Perfectly seasoned and really tasty. I could have had two. To finish, a white chocolate sponge with a milk sorbet and quenelles of white chocolate mousse. Heaven.
Antonin, our sommelier, had taken the time at the beginning of our meal to be sure that we were happy with our wine choice. The list is extensive and boasts a great choice of natural wine (what else!) from both France and abroad.
I run the risk of sounding like a grump but I will just add one last thing: don’t believe what some websites may say about this being a place “where the locals go.” It may have once been the case, but nowadays, the clientele is distinctly English-speaking.
You come because you want to discover some of the most exciting cooking that’s happening in Paris right now – and even better, you know it won’t break the bank.
Essential Information Address: 6 rue Paul Bert, 75011 Telephone: 01 43 79 14 32 Website: Facebook Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday lunch and dinner, Tuesday dinner. Closed Sunday and Monday. Reservations: recommended – a couple of days in advance. Suggested footwear: try some tan-coloured ankle boots over your skinny jeans. Key Words: modern, French, classic