Slate Bleu (Doylestown)...... [long]
I'm almost reluctant to post this review, because this place is SO good "not-yet-discovered" that I want to keep it all for myself.
Slate Bleu, which is a bit off the beaten path in Doylestown, is one of the best restaurants I have eaten in recently. We drive from Bridgewater NJ just to go for dinner or brunch.
The setting is quite pretty, a rustic "Old Mill" building nicely renovated and redecorated, comfortable yet contemporary. The tables are well spaced, the noise level is never an issue and the whole environment makes you feel welcome and relaxed.
The front-of-house is overseen by the Chef's wife, Susan, and she does an absolutely outstanding job. The level of service is comparable to what you would expect in a 4-star restaurant in the big city (NYC, of course!!) but in a relaxed country setting. Susan is constantly training her wait staff and making sure that every detail is perfect, from her warm personal welcome to the last drop of coffee at the end of a meal. The wait staff is professional, courteous, and prompt, although it may seem as if the staff is fresh out of starting gate for this level of service.
The food is outstanding. The Chef comes by way of La Grenouille in the city, and this top level of cuisine shows in every dish he prepares. We have eaten Sunday Brunch as well as Dinner at Slate Bleu, and each time the meal has been extraordinarily good.
The menu is small and diverse, clearly showcasing a few classic dishes - Slate Bleu uses the term "French-centric" - well grounded in a classic French style yet unpretentious and with contemporary appeal.
Standout appetizers include a Salad Ardoise with fresh figs, bleu cheese (natch), and Serrano ham, large enough to split but small enough to keep all to yourself. A very delicate order of escargot in a pastry shell are perfectly sublime, not too garlicky but just buttery enough to melt in your mouth. They also feature a classic (and very rarely seen) Quenelles, a wonderful classic dish of seafood mousseline dumplings with crayfish sauce, as light as feathers and perfectly rendered, but needing a dash more salt and pepper.
Entrees include a wonderful seared scallop dish with mushroom risotto, perfectly prepared (Ok, I'm a sucker for a good risotto and this was as good as any I've had lately) and redolent of wild mushrooms. There are classics such as Au Poivre, with a choice of Tuna or Steak, as well as Filet Bernaise, Sea Bass "en papillote" another classic French dish, Duck breast, and several fish entrees.
One night the special dish was a whole lobster, with fresh chantrelle mushrooms and asparagus. The lobster was perfect, buttery, tender and served with a generous helping of vegetables and roasted fingerling potatos.
They also offer a Prixe Fixe menu option, as well as limited "late-nite" menu until Midnite (an EXCELLENT Idea.. its always nice to find a restaurant that doesn't close at 9pm!!). Desserts include a fabulous classic Chocolate Mousse, and a lighter-than-air Grand Marnier Souffle.
Sunday Brunch is another wonderful affair at Slate Bleu, offering a selection of classics (Brioche French Toast, Omelettes, Crepes, Smoked Salmon, and the excellent Oeufs A La Cocque (soft scrambled egg artfully presented in its own shell, with smoked salmon and a generous dollop of caviar). Fresh squeezed juices and wonderful dark rich coffee make for an excellent meal.