Three ladies made their way to the 11th arrondissement in Paris last night to meet, eat and swap stories at the much-loved bustling bistro, Paul Bert.
My friend Rosemary from London had steak entrecote with bearnaise sauce and the bistro’s signature crispy fries.
Beth from Toronto and I shared a stew of slowly-braised beef cheeks in red wine served with sea shell pasta called conchiglie. It was deliciously satisfying.
Rosemary tactfully dissuaded me from ordering Chinon again (I’m always ordering Chinon. I’m a Chinon buff.) We all agreed that a nice Crozes-Hermitage would fit the bill nicely.
Towards the end of the meal, Rosemary saw a soufflé go by and said she simply had to have one.
I saw a crème caramel go by and the sight of it gave me a fillip. I used to make crème caramels – in a bain marie – when I was a teenager. I thought I was being terribly sophisticated. Not having tasted one in over a decade, I put in my order.
And I was so glad I did! Light and silky and doused in a sweet caramel sauce. I swooned with each spoonful. Beth went for the cheese plate and a wooden plateau arrived laden with different fromages.
The service was impeccable; the skilled waitstaff patient and charming. The convivial atmosphere of Paul Bert has you striking up conversation with the diners beside you. It helps when they are Americans: friendly and sociable. This couple hails from New Orleans. He’s writing a novel, he told us.
I think we were all making a lot of noise towards the end of the evening. I’ll bet the French were thinking “Those loud Anglo-Saxons with their cameras….and snapping pictures of a common crème caramel. Grands dieux!” (“Good grief!”) Oh well. A good time was had by all.