Bistro Poulbot, 39, rue Lamark, 01 46 06 86 00 (a short walk from the Lamark-Caullaincourt métro stop).
Although I see no point in ever again renting a flat in Montmartre (too far from the center, too hilly, too uninteresting once you’ve seen the birthplace of modernism), I found a good place to eat. Bistro Poulbot is the laboratory of a chef named Véronique Melloul. She runs a very efficient operation. Food arrives promptly. The plates are decorous. The male server is correct, attentive, and friendly with a hint of aloofness, like a benign ghost hovering over you. To judge by the number of locals walking by who stopped to read the menu outside during the day, it’s probably new in the neighborhood. But it’s already popular. Reserve ahead. Although popular, no one hurried me, eating by myself and taking up a table for two.
My first course, bouchons rattes de l’escargot et pommes de terre, arrived in a round earthenware dish with twelve holes for snails. It looked like a traditional dish of escargot with parsley, garlic and olive oil. And it was, only the chef added one little cube of potato to each hole. The flavors were the same, but I felt like I’d eaten a slightly more substantial dish than escargots usually are. A sly way of stretching a traditional dish.
Next, the server put in front of me a plate of fondant de joue de boeuf. I saw a dark, round pan-fried patty, about an inch and a half high, with a hard, crusty surface. When I pierced the surface of the patty, I feared for a moment that it would explode. Hot juice oozed out, a harbinger of the succulent and tender shredded beef cheeks inside. Next to it sat a Chinese soup spoon with pomegranite sauce. On the other side lay four baby carrots and four baby asparagus alongside a braised shallot. The bittersweetness of the pomegranite blended well with the juicy fatness of the meat juice.
For dessert, I ate crumble de pain, fruits d’hiver, crème anglaise, noisettes, that is to say, a winter fruit crumble. Poached pear, dried apricots and cherries, and crushed hazelnuts, topped with bread crumbs, went smoothly with the dollop of whipped cream and the very thin puddle of crème anglaise. A little more cream would have made it a voluptous dessert.
Bistro Poulbot looks and feels like a traditional bistro. Dark wood wainscotting and chairs, etched frosted glass at the entry way, and a floor of small black and white tiles. Twenty-five seats make it a cozy place. So, if you’re in the neighborhood, it’s worth a visit.