Located in the Latin Quarter, not far from the Pantheon sits a very classic French Bistro, Le Berthoud. The atmosphere is very traditional and on this particular Wednesday lunch time it was fairly quiet. The clientele that were present were very definitely all French, something which is a little unusual in such a cosmopolitan city and I took this to be a good indication of the place.
At lunch time, which runs from midday until half two (contrary to google’s instance that they are open all day), they offer a set menu— €17.50 for two courses and €25.50 for the full works. I noticed that the portion sizes seemed to be fairly reasonable so decided not to be too ambitious and opted for the starter and main, with a glass of the “vin de mois” (€5.50). For the starter I requested the “asperges, oeufs poché pané, vinaigrette au chorizo” and for the main I went for the fish of the day, freshly sourced from the market according to the menu.
The wine arrived first and was suitably smooth and easy to drink, a little fruity and to my taste. As I did not think to ask what the current wine of the month was before ordering, it was a bit of a gamble. Then the starter arrived. My first impressions were that the asparagus was a little too overcooked and that the flavour combination was not quite right, though the reason why I could not fully place. The vingerette was a bit lemony and there was plenty of parsley, but the chorizo was barely present. There was a token piece or two thrown in and that was it. Aside from this it was enjoyable albeit not quite as good as I had expected.
The main arrived shortly after and I had the same sense of it not being quite as good as it could be. The fish was well cooked, but the flavours were very subtle. It came with sautéed fennel and a creamy sauce with hints of tomato. The fish in question was in fact “cabillaud” a name that I was not familiar with (and later discovered to be the very common cod). Nevertheless, the fennel complimented the fish well and the sauce was pleasant but I did not feel that there was any extraordinary magic going on here.
I will not say I was disappointed with Le Berthoud, nor will I say I was excited by it. The food was simple, but I have had simple food that tasted better, to me this seemed just so. But the price is reasonable and the portions match. I left feeling suitably fed but with no pressing desire to come back and to me this is important, a really good meal sticks with you and this simply did not.
Address: 1 Rue Valette, 75005 Paris, France
Open: For lunch, Monday to Saturday 12:00 to 14:30
For dinner, Monday to Wednesday 19:00 to 23:00
Thursday to Saturday 19:00 to 00:00