French bistros were the original pop up restaurant. As a way to earn extra money, landlords would open their kitchens to the public. As the concept took hold and grew from the basements, a more specific cuisine was formed. The food was simple, moderately priced in a comfortable atmosphere. On a recent visit to a french bistro here in town, I was pleased to experience classic french comfort. From the moment you walk into the door, the feeling is warmth and simple elegance. You are quietly ushered to your small, intimate table passing a mixed audience of ages and professions. The walls are a deep orange with retro sconces alternated between antiqued mirrors, a high banquette with exposed brick, high ceilings, lots of natural light and the original flooring. The decor speaks from the heart of what a french bistro should be; simple, comfortable elegance.
The service was attentive, knowledgable and well trained. The menu was modest with the usual bistro suspects. First course was Pomme Frites and a Spring Corn Chowder. The frites were hand cut, consistent in size, seasoned, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. They were perfection with their lemon infused mayonnaise. The chowder was light, full of fresh ingredients and flavorful. Next were Crawfish Crepes and Quiche Lorraine. The crepes were not lacking in filling, although, a white wine butter sauce would’ve taken them to another level. The pickled red onions were fine but the haricot verts had no flavor at all. I would recommend increasing the haricots to an actual side portion and tossing them in a shallot butter for flavor. If it’s on the plate, it should taste good! Next was Quiche Lorraine served with a side salad. The quiche itself was delicious with a buttery crust and a bacon filled custard. There was a balsamic glaze used to decorate the plate but it would’ve been better served on the side salad which was dressed in olive oil only. There were little piles of unappealing diced tomatoes as a garnish. I would recommend tossing the salad in a vinaigrette with grape tomatoes and haricot verts, which would have added the color they were looking to achieve. For dessert, we had the beignets. They were New Orleans style with powdered sugar, although well prepared, I wanted a sauce to dip them into.
Overall, our experience was great and I would recommend this restaurant to many people. This restaurant is a great example of having the fundamentals right. It’s not fancy, nor should be. An investment in the atmosphere, a simple menu prepared well, and trained staff to deliver it can create real value and experience.
Originally published 3/22/13