Date of Last Visit: Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The Victim: Hope
The Damage: About $40 each
The Background: Much like I was set up on “friend dates” when I first moved to London, I’ve found that repatriation comes with its own set of friend dates. My friend Anna (who lives in London) has a friend Christa (who lives in France). I’ve met Christa a few times, and she’s every bit as awesome as her name, even if it is spelled with a CH. Christa, knowing my love of all things food, introduced me to Hope (who lives in Chicago) over Facebook a few months ago. And so Hope and I met up at Bistronomic on a chilly night in March, where funnily enough, the neighborhood was crawling with Brits due to some sort of even at the Bentley showroom. (American men more often than not wear t-shirts under their dress shirts. British men rarely do. Fact.)
The Entrance: I’m given a seat at the bar while I wait for Hope and I try valiantly to catch the eye of the bartender. She is not of the multi-functioning sort because really, she avoids any and all eye contact with anyone until she finishes making the one drink she’s working on. Then she looks up, takes another order, and then proceeds to look down forever while cutting up this and adding that. Finally it’s my turn and I opt for a Kir Royale, which arrives a little on the sweet side, but there are worse things.
Hope arrives and we peruse the menu while we try to make ourselves heard over the din. That’s one thing I still can’t used to about popular American restaurants. They are so LOUD. And I don’t think it’s only because we’re loud people. I think our ceilings are higher, we use fewer tablecloths, and we are short on soft furnishings.
Up came our homemade country pate, which I thought was very nice and would have made a lovely lunch. Thick and meaty with some good spices in there. One complaint…someone had a heavy hand with the black pepper.
The beet salad lacked a little on the presentation side, but I again thought it would make a nice lunch. There were supposed to be yellow beets in here, but you could barely recognize them, so covered they were in red. Loved the hazelnut vinaigrette. This dish gave me ideas for things to cook for myself. That’s a good thing. I believe Hope felt it was all a little pedestrian, but I don’t want to put words in her mouth and will wait for her thoughts, which I have solicited via Facebook.
And here’s where we messed up, and where you could tell we were American and not raised in close proximity to a French-speaking country. We ordered the house tartine. And out this came. An open-faced sandwich. So not what we were expecting, but after much Google-ing, it’s exactly what we should have been expecting. Lunch food, again.
The Service: A bit absent-minded. He totally forgot my glass of wine. So he said he’d comp it. I ordered a second glass at some point. When we got the bill, he had comped both glasses. Who am I to complain?
The Verdict: I would go back here for lunch. Dinner is just too dark and loud and the menu seems better suited to lunch. (That being said, we didn’t hit the large plates, which are more dinner-like.)