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Bistro Les Gras Northampton

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Anyone been there yet? Reports?

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  1. I was going to ask the same question - having seen their name in the Northampton Restaurant Week listings....

    3 Replies
    1. re: jeni1002

      First thoughts:

      For starters we had the chevre salad and the pissaladiere, for mains we had the cheeseburger, and for dessert we had pot de creme, and cookies. The salad was unremarkable, not in a bad way, just in that it's pretty standard fare. The pissaladiere (a south coast pizza featuring onion, anchovy and olive) is a tart at Les Gras, and was delicious. You must, of course, enjoy anchovy to find this dish palatable. The cheeseburger was fantastic, easily the best in Northampton. The meat was delicate, soft, very nice texture. The toppings were well appointed, although I'd prefer if the aioli and gruyere were not on top of one another so as to taste each distinctly.

      The bad: the desserts were terrible. They had run out of the ganache tort, so we tried the other two. The pot de creme tasted like yogurt and was runny. The cookies tasted like they were out of a tin - why bother?

      In addition, and this is a complaint particular to the restaurant week deal, they were not doing their full menu. Instead they were offering the three course fixed price menu for the restaurant week. Of their three "principle plates" they offered lentils with vegetables (for whatever reason they are omitting the pork belly which appears on the website and their regular menu, which was rather disappointing), salad nicoise (which is on their appetizer menu typically and to me is not a main, also disappointing) and the hamburger. To my mind they went the cheap way out, which is understandable since they just opened, but for the same reason a bad idea since they just opened. They are generating first impressions.

      We'll return at some point, but the missing pork belly and ganache dampened the enjoyment of the dinner. This wouldn't have been a big deal ordinarily, but the alternative options were limited by special menu.

      1. re: fame da lupo

        Sounds at least promising -- thanks for the report!

        1. re: fame da lupo

          I went the other day. It was ok. The service was friendly but haphazard. The food came out in fits and starts. I had moules frites and the portion was about right for $10. The fries good and hot. The mussels were pretty standard..nothing great..the juice was a bit boring and could have used more flavor. My beet salad ($10) was kind of bland as well and the beets were not flavored or marinated, just cut into too-big chunks. My son had the lentil and pork belly and he enjoyed it and I thought it was quite good. His simple salad (boston lettuce?) was light and good.
          Wine by the glass was good. I had a very nice vouvrey.
          All in all, not the fabulous French Style Bistro I've been waiting for (like Brix in Pittsfield) but potentially a welcome addition to the N'Hamp dining scene. Its worth a couple of more trips to try new things and see how they develop.

      2. Also: they have a "market" which is a glass cold case with cheeses, salumi, and sausages. Coppa at $20/lb is steep, but it's nice to see around town.

        If they were smart, they'd do lunch out of the market area. Serve croque monsieurs, quiche, french-style pizzas, their delicious hamburger, etc and have it be take-away or self seated in the dining room. Now that would be a unique and welcomed addition to the Northampton food scene.

        2 Replies
        1. re: fame da lupo

          I just visited the market for the first time today. I was a bit surprised at how small it was, but happy that they had any kind of assortment of nice cheeses and meat products. I agree, the prices are steep, but hopefully worth the price. Northampton doesn't have any other place offering such items, and it should.

          I agree that small lunch items would be great. Not sure it would work to offer things that require the kitchen, but perhaps a panini press in the market area would work for various sandwiches. Fromaggio Kitchen, in Boston used to offer pressed sandwiches utilizing their meats and cheeses. I miss that place. Also, self-seating in the dining room is a bad idea. Take-way only.

          1. re: fame da lupo

            I thought the same thing ( sandwiches in the market). When I asked about it they said they had to sign an agreement with the Northampton Planning Board that restricts them from serving any lunch due to a parking issue around the area (unfortunate). The chef did mention they are planning to do brunches on Sat and Sun soon.

          2. We went to Les Gras last night for the restaurant week deal. The good news: best burger I've had, perfectly cooked on a lovely brioche-type roll and excellent aioli on the side. The bad news: instead of opting to create a great impression during restaurant week, they really went the cheap route. One of the first course options was a selection from 'The Cart,' which, on the menu, is several cheeses, charcuterie and pickles and olives. My husband ordered that, but found the course consisted of only ONE selection - ie, one cheese, OR one salami/ham,etc OR olives. He received a small portion of Humboldt Fog and some bread. This would NEVER happen in France (been there). The chevre salad was OK but small. The lentils with roasted vegetables were very salty with ONE carrot! NO PORK BELLY. Salade nicoise was unremarkable, and not substantial enough for an entree. Most disappointing, the 'Cookie Plate' consisted of selections from Bakery Normand, famous in town for their sawdust cakes and cookies. The red wine recommended by the server was very good, but they need more bottles under thirty dollars, very easy to do these days. We will probably go back, at some point. It's very pretty and the interior is well put-together. It's too bad they didn't have the smarts to really wow people there for the reaturant week draw to encourage them to come back during normal pricing.

            1. I agree with several of the hounds above. I was there last weekend & found the food to be typical of Noho--uninspired & overpriced. To charge $4 for 3 conrnichons that clearly came from a container is pigheaded, & reason enough to not go back. The rest was fair--the lentil salad w/pork belly was a failed attempt to marry a classic dish w/a trendy cut of meat, the dessert was indeed mediochre, & the wine list, while good, was missing the bottle we wanted. If this place were forced to compete in a nearby city, it'd be in big trouble.

              1. I was really excited by the prospect of having a French Bistro in downtown Northampton but I will not return to Bistro Les Gras after my initial experience. The service was friendly but unbelievably slow. Our wine took at least 10 minutes to arrive. The caramelized onion and anchovy tart appetizer was way too salty, the onions were quite mushy and the crust was soggy. My dinner partner ordered steak frites medium-rare and I ordered the trout with almond brown butter. The steak arrived medium-well and the fries tasted exactly like the french fries served at a fast food restaurant. The skin on the trout was not crisp and brown as one might expect. Instead, it was quite soggy and had to be scraped away. The tiny, pointed ends of the haricots verts that came with the trout were dangerously hard and sharp could not be eaten. I thought I had swallowed a fish bone and was surprised to discover that it was the sharped end of a green bean. We did not order dessert. Very, very disappointing.

                1. We returned for burgers. They were overcooked and the cheese is now blue rather than gruyere. I've never had a burger w/ blue cheese that worked well. Ultimately, it was a disappointment. Not sure we'll return.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: fame da lupo

                    The space is beautiful, server was very nice, but the brunch I had wasn't all that impressive, particularly since the burger wasn't on the menu.

                    1. re: hollerhither

                      I went there with middling expectations and was very pleased with my food. It is simple fare, but done pretty damn well, imo.

                      That said, the chairs were so uncomfortable, I have not wanted to return. I am short and fairly generous in the backside. So, I was tottering on the edge, legs swinging in the air. Not a great way to enjoy dinner. When I saw the owner/wife, I noticed that she had the kind of lanky body that would feel quite comfortable in such a chair. I bet she did the picking.

                      If they would consider a banquette along the wall, I would consider eating there every week.