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Jun 22, 2008 11:55 PM

Boris Bistro---why such bad reviews?

We happened upon Boris Bistro today looking for a late breakfast on Notre Dame (not much going at 3pm on Sunday). The terrace was lovely and the espressos were quick to arrive and quite decent. I had a chiruso (sp?), shrimp and roasted pepper fricasse and my love had the pasta Jonas (called pasta Nathan in the english menu--strange translation). We felt the food was quite tasty--better in fact than the meal we ate at Liverpool house recently....and the bill was a mere 30 bucks (!!)
My question is "why the hate??" most of the reviews from chowhounds have been terrible. Is the smoking affecting my taste buds? Have you guys really had such bad food there? Do tell because I plan on going back and want to know what to avoid.

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  1. Perhaps the lunches are better than the dinners - I've only had dinner there, and it's been truly underwhelming. My experience was that the food tasted like it had been prepared and reheated, and had still been sitting for a while - everything was dried out, and the flavours were minimal at best. Considering how lovely the terrace is, the food is a true disappointment.

    1. BB is one of the few places that have generated a big meh across the board, from bloggers, chowhounds (search the board and you'll see), eGulleters, paid reviewers, word-of-mouthers. That's got to mean something. But yours is the second positive report this month (see for the first), so maybe they've got their culinary act together. Or maybe you lucked out. Twice burned, I'm shy to return. But keep us posted on your future research!

      8 Replies
      1. re: carswell

        Ok, I've decided (against my better judgment) to have my partners mothers birthday supper there tonight--mostly for research purposes--using family as guinea pigs....rude! Will let you know how it went.....

        1. re: daimon4


          So to reply to my own posting (how self indulgent) here is my report on tonights supper for six at Boris. Other peoples comments are in quotes.

          WIne: two bottles of 2005 italian merlot (I didn't get to chose as I wasn't paying) @ 48 a bottle---unimpressive but quaffable as they say.
          -Two green salads (comments were "overdressed" , "boring" and "it's salad")
          -One shrimp and sausage fricasse ("yum", "filling", "yumyum"--I too really liked this one when I had it for lunch)
          -Two endive, beet and blue cheese salads ("I love beets", "no comment"--I also tasted this one and liked the blue cheese/endive combo but felt the beets added nothing but colour---and were mushy)
          -one foie gras torchee (sp?)--my choice which was a LOT of foie gras, served cold with a side of sweet onions--texture was great but I'm used to the tasty exploding balls (now, now) at Pied du Cochon so I didn't think much of it.

          1 Steak/fries (cooked in duck fat).. fries were good, steak came "overdone"
          2 Mushroom risotto--lots of fans of this one--noticed it wasn't too heavy.
          1 Cod--the birthday girl loved it, looked plain to me.
          1 pasta Nathan--buffalo and tomatoes--also good, not oily, good balance of ingredients
          1 Grilled vegetables--I had this as I was full up from the foie gras and felt like something lighter. A nice surprise of roasted peppers, leeks, mushrooms etc...
          it was exactly as described and while not a meal on its own would be great to pair with a meat based app or main.

          -choc mousse with a sugar cream sauce avec candle--boring, terrible sauce
          -my own smuggled in, individually wrapped homemade "oreo" cookies---awesome if I do say so myself.

          SO....really not a bad meal and quite a good one if you consider the price and ambience. All the mains are under 20$ for god's sake!! Obviously it's not 5iem peche but then again you're paying 30 bucks a head instead of 60. Additionally the terrace is stunning/relaxing. Reminded my partner of being in India and reminded me of Kenya (without the beetles falling into my food). I'm going back for sure...but after the summer is over...bye, bye, Boris.

          1. re: daimon4

            Daimon4, thanks for taking the hit and thanks for reporting back! Nice to have info on a nice place with a terrace. That certainly seems like a lot of food for $30, especially since it included fois gras, and what sounds like a healthy dose of the stuff.

            Question: the $30 includes tax and tip and wine? Also, I am assuming the $30 is an average cost per person for this particular meal, and that if you went in and ordered fois app followed by steak frites or something like that, plus wine, it would be more?

            1. re: daimon4

              I was at BB a couple of weeks ago and everyone seemed to enjoy their dinners. Frankly, I was sort of distracted the whole evening so I wasn't paying much attention. I had the steak-frites and it was quite decent; not a $50 steak, but decent enough for the price, and the fries, as diamon mentioned, were quite good (although mine were not very warm when they arrived).

              I'm going back tomorrow night for a social function. I'll pay closer attention this time. :-)

              1. re: blork

                Moh, to answer your question the apps are in the 5-11$ range and the mains were 14-19.50 (the most expensive being the steak). If I recall deserts are 6 to 8. So 30 is the average price for app and main with tax and maybe tip not including wine. I didn't see the bill for supper but our lunch with espressos/tax and tip came to 36$. I consider this pretty inexpensive for what we got, it's the kind of place we could go to on a lark without breaking the bank.

                1. re: daimon4

                  Was the fois only $11? That sure does sound reasonable...

                    1. re: daimon4

                      OK, as promised, here's my quick and very imprecise view of Boris Bistro, from last night.

                      As others have suggested, the prices are for the most part quite reasonable. The food is, for the most part, "middling " and enjoyable, but not stellar. This isn't the kind of place you go to with your foodie hat on and your critic's pencil sharpened. It's the kind of place where you can go to have a decent meal, reasonably priced, in a nice environment (particularly the terrace).

                      I had the fricassee of chorizo, shrimp, and peppers. It was quite tasty, and not unlike a pretty standard Spanish tapa that I make at home. I've never had it with shrimp though, so that was a nice touch (although the shrimp was chopped into very small pieces). I followed that with the duck confit sandwich. Hmmm. Not a big success. It's the kind of thing that if you made it yourself at home you'd think you were really clever, but ultimately it was a bit too chaotic. The bread is full of fruit and nuts, which is cute but weird in a sandwich. The confit was a bit dry, and the rest of it was bulked out with a lot of alfalfa sprouts (which were not mentioned on the menu). so it was more like an alfalfa sprout sandwich on odd bread that a bit of duck confit had fallen into.

                      But the fries were quite good. (Cooked in duck fat.)

                      Chorizo fricassee, duck sandwich, two pints of Boreal, and a short espresso came to about $43 with tax but before tip.

                      A couple of the people around me had the trout with walnuts and spinach, which looked very simple but good. I didn't taste it, but it seemed to have been perfectly cooked. The guy next to me had the beef tartar, which looked yummy (although I'm not a tartar fan). There was lots of stuff going on in there in terms of sauce and added things -- which made it look a bit less tartar-like. Tartar purists might balk at that. The guy ate it all, but said he felt there was too much horseradish. The salad it came with looked like a pretty generic middle-of-the-road Caesar.

                      I saw someone take the cheese plate after the meal, and it looked quite nice. Triple-cream St. Andre (I think), some fruit slices, nuts, a some toasty baguette rounds, and another type of cheese that had the consistency of cheddar. Not an overload of cheese; it seemed like just the right amount to round out a meal.

                      So there you go. I'll gladly go back if it's in good company and the intention is to hang out and have a good time. Far from my first choice when I'm looking for a "food experience."