If you do any amount of reading about the food scene in Paris these days, chances are you’ve heard of the rue Paul Bert. Tucked away on the outskirts of the 11th arrondissement, this tiny street is home to the much-lauded Bistrot Paul Bert, its seafood-oriented sibling L’Écailler du Bistrot, and the nearly impossible to book Temps au Temps. Nick and I found ourselves in the neighborhood during a recent soccer match, and since the bar where we were watching the game had illogically closed their kitchen, we decided to step out at halftime to find some dinner.
Despite having called the 11th home for two years, I’d never actually been to this part of it before. But I knew that we were in the vicinity of the rue Paul Bert, and that good eats had to be nearby. Looking more for a quick bite than a full-on dining experience, we crossed the foodie destination restaurants off our list. In our wanderings, we passed by this fun-looking restaurant on the corner of Paul Bert and rue Faidherbe. Everyone was eating out of huge, brightly-colored ceramic bowls, which intrigued us, so we walked closer to get a better look. The bowls contained salads, of the big variety so popular chez moi. We were convinced.
Sitting down at a table on the patio, I gave Nick the seat with the view of the TV (the wandering took up some time, and the game was about to start again). We looked through the menu and found a number of tasty-sounding salads, as well as a Cantal cheeseburger. Sold. It was then that Nick noticed the fish and chips on the chalkboard menu. We arranged to share bites and ordered our dinners.
My fish and chips arrived crisp and hot. It was served with a little ramekin of sherry vinegar, which was an interesting but not at all unpleasant substitute for the more traditional malt vinegar served across the Channel. The tartar sauce had an air of housemade about it, and lacking ketchup, it made a fine dip for the fries (industrial, but not half-bad). The fish (cod) was tender and flaky, the breading a thin and shattery counterpoint.
Nick’s burger, with a nice, thick layer of gooey cheese underneath, came speared with a pickle. Classic. A sweet pickle. Strange, but then, I’ve always had a weakness for sweet pickles. We polished off our pub grub just in time for the end of the game, which delayed the waiter quite a bit. He was too busy cheering for Spain to bring us our bill, but I’ll let it slide this time. I mean, the World Cup only happens every four years, right?
Would I make a special trip to come back to Les Funambules? Probably not, but I would happily eat there again the next time I’m in the neighborhood.
Originally published on Croque-Camille.