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Looking for a French Bistro

mr quarters Sep 25, 2008 06:01 PM

We' re going to be in Boston in a few weeks and are looking for a French Bistro. Last year we went to Gaslight Brasserie and had a great time.

Thanks for all your help!

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    GirlGrub RE: mr quarters Sep 25, 2008 06:15 PM

    You could try Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square, it can be a fun time, has a good vibe to it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: GirlGrub
      Bob Dobalina RE: GirlGrub Sep 26, 2008 07:31 AM

      ES ain't French.

      1. re: Bob Dobalina
        Sal Monella RE: Bob Dobalina Sep 26, 2008 08:53 AM

        Bob, you look familiar but can't fully recall from where. :>P

    2. rlove RE: mr quarters Sep 25, 2008 07:15 PM

      For a fun, lively, bistro-y experience, where the food still matters--I like Eastern Standard in Kenmore Sq and Gaslight, which you've already hit up.

      I have heard positive things about Les Zygmomates, in the leather district, but have never been.

      For a higher-end bistro, I love La Voile (Back Bay) and Hammersley's (South End). Both have great food but aren't cheap. La Voile is a little more loud and fun and French, while still excellent food. Hammersley's is a bit stuffy, trending toward hig-end fare--indeed, the food is delicious.

      Petit Robert is very good, and a great value, with locations in South End and Kenmore Square.

      All of these places are good, but I'd personally pick between Eastern Standard (Boston's closest equivalent to NY's Balthazar) and La Voile (a wonderful French).

      8 Replies
      1. re: rlove
        alwayscooking RE: rlove Sep 26, 2008 07:51 AM

        Nix on Petit Robert (at least the one on Columbus). I've eaten there 5-6 times and really have never had a good meal. I kept going back thinking that each bad meal that I had eaten there was just a fluke. But nope, each meal was bad - over or under seasoned, over or under cooked, and mismatched flavors (tonic water? in a cold asparagus soup?).

        The service also has never been great. I once listened to a waiter tell the bartender about his 'adventure' the previous night while I waited to be noticed and seated. Service is erratic and the staff lack training - I won't go into details which abound.

        I really want to like it since it's close to home in the South End and eating on the sidewalk on a warm evening is wonderful but . . . I wouldn't recomment it.

        Hammersley's has a nice roast chicken (they are known for it) but I've found that most of the other dishes tend toward saltiness.

        Les Zyg is good bistro fare offering nice basic food flavors. It could be my ordering - meals are rich and filling - great for a cool rainy day.

        1. re: alwayscooking
          cannedmilkandfruitypebbles RE: alwayscooking Sep 26, 2008 01:12 PM

          I've never been to the columbus location of PR but I've dined at the Kenmore outpost on three occasions and had very good meals each time. I find it to be one of the best values in the area.

          1. re: alwayscooking
            heathermb RE: alwayscooking Sep 26, 2008 01:42 PM

            There is a tremendous difference between the two locations. I love the Kenmore location but would have to have my arm twisted and a few cocktails to consider going back to the Columbus location.

            1. re: heathermb
              twentyoystahs RE: heathermb Sep 29, 2008 09:21 AM

              I had an AMAZING meal at the Kenmore location and a couple of very good meals at the Columbus one. I was a little hesitant to head to Columbus after reading some mixed chowhound reviews, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with excellent food and good service.

          2. re: rlove
            wrenhunter RE: rlove Sep 26, 2008 09:25 AM

            "I have heard positive things about Les Zygmomates, in the leather district, but have never been."

            I have, and it's a great choice for bistro fare. Great wine by bottle or glass, good food and atmosphere, and a real zinc bar!

            1. re: wrenhunter
              Science Chick RE: wrenhunter Sep 26, 2008 01:12 PM

              Ditto that. I was just there last night. The mussels were heavenly (steamed in a wine/fennel sauce), as was the beet/goat cheese salad. Also, you can hear live jazz for free every night. If you don't want the live music, you can sit in one of the other rooms, too.

            2. re: rlove
              jajjguy RE: rlove Sep 26, 2008 12:02 PM

              La Voile is the most authentic. I went there just after returning from a week of restaurants in Paris and found it to be completely convincing, doing many things I had identified the week before as not-to-be-found back home. Very impressive.

              1. re: jajjguy
                Northender RE: jajjguy Sep 26, 2008 02:56 PM

                Ditto about La Voile. It exudes French atmosphere but is not stuffy, has wonderful staff who are attentive and will interact if you like or leave you alone if you prefer. It is also a really nicely laid out and decorated space.

            3. SaraASR RE: mr quarters Sep 25, 2008 08:38 PM

              Pierrot Bistrot Francais in Beacon Hill. It's a true hidden gem in the city. Run by a fantastic French couple, quite large menu, authentic, and I'm always surrounded by French speakers whenever I go. That right there is a good sign. http://www.pierrotbistrot.com/

              3 Replies
              1. re: SaraASR
                Sal Monella RE: SaraASR Sep 26, 2008 06:28 AM

                Good call SaraASR. I second Pierrot Bistrot Francais as well. Very lively atmosphere albeit a little cramped the night we went. Thoroughly enjoyed the cuisine, portions, and wine list.

                1. re: Sal Monella
                  9lives RE: Sal Monella Sep 26, 2008 07:14 AM

                  Add me to the Pierrot fan club..lots of French bistro classics..escargot, steak tartare, foie fras, always a good fish or 2

                2. re: SaraASR
                  jinet12 RE: SaraASR Sep 26, 2008 05:35 PM

                  wow...I have never heard of this place until now...would you make a special trip to dine there?

                3. f
                  fullbelly RE: mr quarters Sep 26, 2008 06:36 AM

                  Sandrines in Cambridge; Miele at the Intercontinential; Bouchee; Petite Robert Bistro; Brasserie Jo; Beacon Hill Bistro

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fullbelly
                    greygarious RE: fullbelly Sep 27, 2008 01:29 PM

                    Any menu listing that mentions caramelized onion is catnip to me, so I still dream about "Uncle Hansi's Tart" at Brasserie Jo. It's a quiche packed with caramelized onion and little else - paradise for onion lovers.

                  2. Delhiwala RE: mr quarters Sep 26, 2008 02:42 PM

                    Pigalle (near the Theater District and Bay Village) is quite good and the folks there are very nice.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Delhiwala
                      rlove RE: Delhiwala Sep 26, 2008 05:01 PM

                      Totally agree with Pigalle--it is one of my favorite Boston restaurants, although there are reports here from other Chowers that this summer has been lackluster with Marc out of the kitchen--but I wouldn't call it a French Bistro, particularly if the original poster is looking for a loud, fun kind of vibe.

                    2. WilliamTheFoodie RE: mr quarters Sep 27, 2008 07:29 AM

                      I'd recommend Sandrine's in Harvard Square. From the moment you step through the faux Metro doorway you will really feel as though you are in a Parisian Bistro.

                      1. r
                        robertlf RE: mr quarters Sep 27, 2008 08:26 PM

                        I've been meaning to try Cassis Bistro in Andover. It looks VERY good.


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                          firecracker RE: bostonrich1234 Sep 27, 2008 09:39 PM

                          As a recent exhibitor at the BCEC, I tried Sel on State Street for lunch. Ate in the lounge as I could hear 2 small children the moment I entered the restaurant. Asked the advice of the very attractive server/bartender and he recommended a smoked chicken/blue cheese panini with frites. Wow! It was just the right amount of "crunchy" when I bit into it, but hot and melt-in-your-mouth flavorful in taste. I would recommend this bistro in a heartbeat!

                          1. s
                            Studio62 RE: mr quarters Sep 29, 2008 09:10 AM

                            I think Brasserie Jo on Huntington Avenue comes closest to authenticity here in Boston - it never fails to please. I have taken friends, and family and clients here and never been disappointed. Great atmosphere, clean, easy to get to, and wide menu options!

                            1. jinet12 RE: mr quarters Oct 10, 2008 08:49 PM

                              I would try Hamersley Bistro...He does a lot of French inspired cooking..His frisee salad with bacon that is house cured, with a poach or fried egg on top with a light vinegrette is as french bistro as it comes...

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