Monday, July 25, 2011


It has been well documented that Chicago has had a resurgence of French restaurants. I became even more interested when Chicago Magazine named Bistronomic Best New Restaurant 2011. We had a nice meal but our key take away was that everything was middle of the road good, very consistent and very predictably ordinary. Maybe that's the reason it received the award and other praise as well as success - sometimes not taking any risks or coloring outside the lines is the best way to run a restaurant so long as there are no mistakes. I can see how people would return often if they want a good meal without flair at reasonable prices. I just can't find much to that was memorable or inspiring.

I liked the simple and modern remake of the old Eve space that was more aggressive and stylish. Erica thought the color scheme and fixtures reminded her of Italian bistro, but I suppose it's almost the same thing - European elegance and simplicity. Our service was interesting: at times very attentive and impressive, but then there were times it was completely absent and questionable. For the high level of consistency in the food I was surprised with the inconsistency in the service. I do like the way the menu is organized. The entire back page is the cheese and charcuterie selection ranging from individual choices, cheese flights or melted cheese. The front side is separated into three sizes: large, medium and small. We didn't find anything in the small plate size that intrigued us but the entire medium size looked interesting. To start we ordered an asparagus salad, grilled cheese of the day and a linguini special. We were advised that our large plate order of braised lamb shoulder would be enough food for the evening and I appreciated the advice and honesty of our server. 

A sign of things to come was that I liked the asparagus for its simplicity and well executed preparation. The dressing was light with a single piece of Parmesan cheese on top. Erica thought there could have been more flavor needed to make it an interesting dish and I would agree, but it was still enjoyable.

The featured melted cheese of the day was Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert. I'm usually a fan of camembert but this is not a cheese I would recommend for "grilled cheese." The toast was interesting but the best part of the dish was the green salad. I liked the pasta dish a little more than Erica. The best part was the pieces of pulled chicken in the rich sauce. There were plenty of mushrooms too, but I don't recall the pasta itself being that interesting. Again, a nice dish that tastes good but unremarkable in many ways - a safe play.

We were probably extra critical of the braised lamb in couscous since we had world class couscous/lamb recently on our trip to Morocco, but this was our favorite dish of the night. The lamb was tender and fell apart nicely into the sauce. I liked the cucumber topping to add a hint of summer freshness.

French cuisine is well known for great desserts and pastries and Bistronomic had two very good selections. We didn't want to compromise so we ordered two scoops of sorbet and an order of bread pudding. I'm glad they followed the French tradition of portion control and both desserts were not over sized. The bread pudding was delicious and served with a side of warm vanilla cream topping. We would have finished a portion three times the size but lucky there wasn't more. It was one of the better bread puddings I've had in a while with tender but not mushy bread in the middle and nice baked top. The sorbet flavors were strawberry and raspberry with my preference of raspberry. They are sweet and flavorful without giving you a sweet tooth.

In the end we had nice meal with very consistent good but not amazing food. Maybe that's exactly what people are looking for in a dining out experience but as my friend Krista says, it takes a lot to stand out and make an impression. Perhaps the ownership having recently tried a more adventurous venture with Eve wanted something more mainstream. Maybe they just haven't let the Chef spread his wings yet and want to establish commercial viability first. There's nothing wrong that and if it pays the bills all the better. I wish there was more pop to the dishes, but at least you know exactly what you're getting with each plate and each visit.

Bistronomic on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

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