Astier restaurant

Restaurant? Bistro? Brasserie? I’d call it an expensive neighborhood eatery that serves up traditional French food from a limited menu. All Parisian restaurants are expensive, which explains why I don’t eat out much. (To be truthful, I love cooking. I really enjoy buying good wine and produce and making nice meals at home.) But we were celebrating our upcoming shared birthday, Andreas and I, and had decided on this restaurant in the 11th arrondissement near Place de la République.


Last night was cold and clear, a perfect winter’s night for walking outdoors. I took the metro to Parmentier then strode along the avenue de la République to this place.


The interior was warm and welcoming … with a décor that hasn’t changed since the 1970s (or earlier.) It’s small inside with tables placed in a somewhat higgledy-piggledy fashion.


I have a sixth sense about restaurants. I can walk in and pretty much know (more or less) what’s in store. This was my appetizer of snails. (Correction: I thought I was eating a modernized version of the traditional snail dish, because I had ordered snails. But I’ve just looked at the bill again and it’s marked “tartelette champignons” which means I was eating a mushroom tart!) In any case, it was delicious.


Delicious lamb to follow. Do you see that tiny tureen of gnocchi on the left? That was for us to share. And the wine was disappointing, I’m afraid. I called it “flabby.” “Flabby?” said Andreas. “Unstructured,” I replied. In other words, limp. At 33 euros for the bottle, I had expected something better.


The cheese tray was a hit.



After dinner we walked to the Place de la République for a nightcap in the lobby bar of a hotel. I had Drambuie on the rocks. A mouse was scampering around the lobby. The staff saw it and did nothing (actually, they laughed.) We said something, but they still did nothing, other than offer us a drink “on the house”.

Two of my favorite Parisian restaurants – reasonably-priced, delicious food, fun places with lots of ambience – remain the Bistro Paul Bert and Le 6 Paul Bert, both on the same street. I drank a memorable Saint-Joseph Côte du Rhône at the 6 Paul Bert exactly three years ago. Here’s the link to that fun evening and restaurant review –


pre-Christmas dinner at Paul Bert bistro


In an earlier post this year (April 2014), I put up photos of a rollicking dinner we had at our favourite bistro in the 11th arrondissement, the Paul Bert.  Last night was a slightly more sedate affair, but in terms of food and company, equally delicious.


A Swedish Christmas elf offered me a gift that happened to be on my Christmas list – a box of marrons glacés (candied chestnuts) from Paris’s best chocolatier, La Maison du Chocolat.  A glass of champagne was ordered for the occasion.  And then an English Christmas elf, who had also referred to that list (which I didn’t think anyone would actually consult!), offered me a Diptyque Feu du Bois candle.


As a starter, I ordered the marrow bone simply roasted and sprinkled with fleur de sel. My companions had foie gras and roasted scallops.


I then chose the roast venison with celeriac puree and juniper berries while my friends enjoyed pepper steak with a load of hot crispy fries.  Paul Bert is known for their delicious, hot and crispy fries.


IMG_3828IMG_3824I don’t know what they’re making eyes about here.  Paul Bert makes the best crème caramel I have ever tasted.IMG_3833IMG_3836IMG_3840IMG_3842

And so, as always at Paul Bert bistro, a good time was had by all.  We walked off into the dampish night, each of us headed to different destinations over the holidays – Sweden, Holland and south-west France.

dinner at Paul Bert bistro

Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 068Three 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.Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 028The third lady is behind the camera.Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 031Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 032My friend Rosemary from London had steak entrecote with bearnaise sauce and the bistro’s signature crispy fries.Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 036Beth 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.Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 037Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 039Rosemary 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.Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 040Towards the end of the meal, Rosemary saw a soufflé go by and said she simply had to have one.Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 044I 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.Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 045And I was so glad I did!  This was the mother of all crème caramels. 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.Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 049The 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.Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 064And these young people are from Brooklyn.Paul Bert bistro Paris avril 2014 059I 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 !”  (that’s the equivalent of “good grief!”)  Oh well.  A good time was had by all.