22 February 2011
Noticing this picture was one of two wonderfully disturbing moments of a recent lunch at 11ème bistro institution Bistrot Paul Bert. The other was when my friend / coworker D casually announced that his plans that Friday evening were to stay up all night staking out a purportedly violent ghost in a stranger's apartment near Metro Sentier.
Please pass the mustard.
It was a longer story than is worth going into on a wine blog. But I can theorize, perhaps more relevantly, that one of the reasons Bistrot Paul Bert remains so universally appealing - to everyone from locals to tourists to politicians to restaurateurs to wine geeks like myself - is its discreet capacity to surprise, even while remaining one of the most effortlessly classic establishments in the city.
The wine list is a good example. A place this reliably thronged, with such a well-heeled clientele, has no clear financial incentive to stock a full page's worth of oddball, bargain-priced, largely natural Vin de Tables. They could very well make do with the obvious grandstanding Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône, and Champagne selections that make up the rest of the list and not lose a table. (Except mine, obviously.) That they don't take this cynical route is all the more touching because it is so plainly available to them.
We were very belatedly celebrating my friend / coworker A's birthday - something so long overdue that there was nothing left for it but to man up and drink through my hangover that afternoon. I picked out a sparkler I hadn't yet tried by the reliably excellent Jura vigneron Ludwig Bingernagel, or He-Of-The-Gajillion-Cuvées. So many of the cavistes and restaurants I frequent stock his wide, idiosyncratic range of Jura micro-cuvées, bottled under the Les Chais de Vieux Bourg label, that for the last few months I've had the impression of living in one long extended Bindernagel tasting. Every other week, something new...
The punny "Délire des Lyres" Exra-Brut is 100% Pinot Noir vinified en blanc. The 2007 we had was pleasant. Biscuity, not exceptionally aromatic, with a fruit balanced somewhere between fresh grapes and raspberry confiture - sort of a breakfast tartine effect, if you paired said tartine with a crisp yeasty beer.
There's nothing new to say about the classic bistro fare at Bistrot Paul Bert, except to reaffirm that, at 16,5€ for three substantial courses, it's perhaps the best lunch deal in Paris: always well-sourced, supremely satisfying, and correct with a capital C. As our group of friends / colleagues ate we devoted a substantial length of conversation to hopelessly gaming out ways to visit the restaurant on our lunch breaks in the 1èr, a cross-town journey as impossible, within the usual time constraints, as it is alluring.
Bistrot Paul Bert
18, rue Paul Bert
Metro: Charonne, or Faidherbe-Chaligny
Tel: 01 43 72 24 01
Drinking Bindernagel's Poulsard with a mimolette soufflé
Bindernagel's "Sous Les Cerisiers" Chardonnay, paired with the cult TV series Twin Peaks
A review of Bistrot Paul Bert @ LeFooding
Meg Zimbeck on Paul Bert @ GirlsGuideToParis
A review of Bistrot Paul Bert @ BarbraAustin