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Jun 25, 2008 07:36 PM

Midlevel French

I always see French cooking as a technique rather than a lexicon of dishes. That said, I do love the classics. Most of the French restaurants I've heard of in town are definitively upmarket. Are there any midrange options with a solid French menu?

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  1. There are a handful that come to my mind quickly. Petit Robert in the South End and Kenmore comes to mind immediately as does Brasserie Joe on Huntington near the Copley Mall. Near downtown is Les Zygomates, which I'm not a fan of (I find the food inconsistent and the service more so), but others on the board really like it. All three have main courses at dinner around $20 and appetizers between $10 and $20.

    5 Replies
    1. re: sailormouth

      I've had a number of good meals at Pierrot Bistro on Cambridge St.

      1. re: 9lives

        Both Petit Robert and Pierrot are great recommendations for 'midrange options with a solid French menu'. I've only been to Pierrot once, it was good, but I really like Petit Robert and am consistently surprised at how reasonably-priced it can be, particularly at lunch. I could sit and chew on the bread with some pâté all day. Some people on here will complain about service, but I've been a bunch of times and it's been great. Sure, it's not L'espalier, but it's solid.

        1. re: jonship

          Is there a difference between the two Petit Robert locations? How are their steak frites?

          1. re: viperlush

            I have been to both, but not to Kenmore Sq in a while since the South End location opened and is more convenient. I can't think of any major differences. I think the South End has a larger outdoor space. Kenmore Sq has a downstairs without windows I think whereas the South End has large windows overlooking Columbus. I can't recall any differences in food, and I'm afraid I've not had the steak frites. I can recommend the calf's liver and more recently I've enjoyed the herring, sardines and escargots. Other's I've been with have found the Beef Bourgignon a little inconsistent.

            1. re: jonship

              I've only been to the Kenmore location. No complaints about the service (well, they did charge the wrong check to my credit card once, but that's minor and they fixed it immediately), but I've found the food inconsistent - often very good, occasionally inexcusably bad. I've been served things like burnt sweetbreads, and undercooked beans in a cassoulet.

    2. gaslight in the south end has mid-level prices for mid-level food. eastern standard executes very well and has a range of "bistro" style dishes on the menu. craigie street bistrot does a prix-fixe menu early in the week that's a killer deal. appetizers at la voile on newbury st. are very reasonably priced and (for me) sufficiently large to make a main -- although the ticket time for plates can be maddening.

      1. at first glance I thought this post was about "medieval french" food. Now that would be interesting.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pierce

          that's how I read it too! I was a tiny bit disappointed when I got the picture.

        2. Thanks everyone. I ended up at Petit Robert Kenmore and got to sit outside. I'm not crazy about the kitsch, but it was nice to be in the weather, and the interior dining room looked nice.

          The good:
          All of the dishes were good and of good value. I had the salmon legs (deboned steak), that came with pretty average mashed potatoes and some carrots, with a sorrel sauce vierge on top. I know sauce vierge is subtle but this one was somewhat flavorless. I was pleased that the waiter asked me how I'd like my salmon cooked, and that it was delivered as ordered - medium rare with a good crispness to the outside.

          We started with a trio of patés that were also good (one of them was really rillettes). The bread wasn't good, and I usually take quality of bread as a good insight into the restaurant, but fortunately this was not the case.

          The bad: The service was poor. The serve-assist was very rude. Three of us were seated at a table that only had two water glasses. The place settings were slammed on the table so that it shook. I asked for a third glass and was unacknowledged. He came back with a pitcher to fill the two glasses but not the third. We repeated the request in case he forgot and he turned his back on us saying "yeah yeah, heard ya the first time." He came back a while later with the third and spilled water on one of partners before filling the glass, questionably intentionally - he did not apologize.

          The server was enthusiastic but unprofessional. He kept trying to take away plates when food was not finished and could not describe the specials in detail (I saw them later on the chalkboard by the bathroom). Anyways, taking away unfinished plates while people are still actively eating bugs me. He also took away two completed plates while the third had barely gotten into his meal - also disappointing.

          Service issues aside it was a good value. I didn't look at the wine list, just the beer list, and was disappointed that its pricing did not match the food, but this is definitely a place I would return to if I was staying longer in Boston.