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Sep 25, 2008 06:01 PM

Looking for a French Bistro

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

    2 Replies
      1. re: Bob Dobalina

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

    1. 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

        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

          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

            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

              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

            "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

              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

              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

                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. 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.

              3 Replies
              1. re: SaraASR

                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

                  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

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

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

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fullbelly

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

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Delhiwala

                      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.