Bistrot La Minette - brief review
Had dinner at Bistrot La Minette on Saturday night. It has been open less than a month.
The interior of the restaurant is beautiful and sets the mood for a lovely evening in Paris. The staff were very pleasant. We had the country pate and salmon tatare for appetizers - both very good. I would go back for the pate alone, served with tiny "loaves" of brioche about the size of a large thumb. The salmon was served with lentils and marscapone - the dressing was described as an orange vinegarette, but the orange got lost because of a good amount of tarragon - still good but not what I expected from the description. We had the two most expensive entrees - the steak and the Halibut. The halibut was in a broth and served with clams and fava beans, it was a little more done than I prefer but I like my fish less done than many folks do. The clams were small - cockles really - but good. The fava were quarter size and not cooked enough for favas that large. The broth was good and the dish worked overall. My chow-spouse's steak was cooked rare as she ordered it and was served with a potato gratin and harticorte vert wrapped in bacon. Very good all around by report. The pot de creme was "the best I've had" - again by report as I don't eat dessert.
The price seemed fair - without alcohol about $100 for two (and we did order higher priced offerings.
The down side? The service was very frustrating. While they accommodated our ordering appetizers and then 10 minutes later our entrees (couldn't decide, but we were hungry!), and I have no issue with lingering between courses, we ordered drinks when we arrived and a second round before the appetizers were delivered. The apps arrived and we had no drinks. They arrived several minutes later. OK - no biggie, but then the same thing happened with our entrees - ordered a glass of wine well before the entrees arrived and it didn't get there until well after the entrees. Same thing happened to the table next to us - he had to flag down the staff to get his wine. They asked for the check with their dessert order and waited probably 15 minutes for their dessert. The restaurant was full most of the time we were there but it didnot appear "hectic", there were at least three waitstaff and at least three runners, maybe more and it is not a big room.
I'll definitely go back for pate and a martini at a small table in the front bar area, and I'll keep an eye on the service to decide about going back for a meal. It really does feel like Paris, I hope the service improves.
We enjoyed dining at Bistrot La Minette last night. The Bistrot hospitality was superb and the cooking was very decent. The dining room was stylish and comfortable enough without the overwrought falseness, ala Martha Stewart, that plagues some of the other 'bistros' around town.
The host was gracious and polished and the servers had an excellent team service ethic going on. The cooking was a little spotty but enjoyable.
We started with a shared glass of muscat (graciously split) and an order of foie that was tasty if a bit under seared. Next the mussel dish with poached egg was buttery and delightful. The mussels were flavorful but without the a la minute plump juiciness that would have made this dish shimmer. The quail, stuffed with garlic sausage, could have used a bit more focus in the seasoning and roasting but very enjoyable. I had monkfish as a main course the fish was prime and tasty the amercaine sauce not so much but brussel sprouts supplied an inventive, delicious vegetable crunch highlighting the meaty fish and mashed potatoes. The Braised rabbit too was tasty but a bit on the cooked side. The 'tagliatelle' were nothing of the sort and more like a doughy fettuccine that detracted from the composition. We shared a lemon tart with cassis sorbet. My server was flawless until he served a delayed, warmish coffee at meal's end.
Craig LaBan criticised the bread on his visit to Bistrot La Minette. I too thought the crumb too fine but the crust was nice as was the salty butter. His review also touches on a soupy dauphinois. I sampled that gratin and it was not soupy but more curdish, tasty enough.
I drank calvados throughout my dinner but the lil lady started with 'Pomme A La Poire' made with calvados and pear puree and enough cinnamon to spice several orders of french toast.
bistrot la minette has a few things going for it and a few things against. Service is ok though the comments about Parisian service suggest you have been sticking to the tourist areas. Plenty of good service in Paris thought they won't tell you their name or the 14 ingredients in the special of the day. So, the food. Well, it's fine. Yup, that's it. Just fine. Neither a bad, nor good. I like the fact that they have a reasonable Loire red for 18 bucks a carafe and space is pleasant. But there is so much incredible homey and easy to prepare French food that there is no excuse to not do it--though there are few places in Philly or elsewhere in the States that do (and plenty of places in France that don't).
My current favorite (and it's a BYOB) is Marigold Kitchen over in West Philly. Not all successful but all in all a fun place to dine and some really pleasant surprises.
I know this thread is a few months old, but we were there for dinner last night and I wanted to post my experience somewhere.
In short, Bistrot la Minette was delightful.
The atmosphere is very warm and comfortable, the banquettes very comfortable and the music perfect (very 18th arrondissement, but not in a cloying way). The wait staff were all very much on top of their game, yet unobtrusive. Our meal was paced perfectly.
We shared the flammenkuche and bibb lettuce salad with mustard vinaigrette. The salad was pretty straightforward but delicious, and the flammenkuche was out of this world. Perfect flavors and texture.
My husband had roasted chicken with tiny raviolis, which he loved. I tried a ravioli but it was lamb (which I loathe), so I can't comment on the flavor. I enjoyed trout amandine (although our server really was eager for me to have the monkfish) with the best brown butter lemon sauce I have ever had. The fish was cooked beautifully, and I was even able to eat most of the skin as it was crisped well.
Dessert was creme brulee for my husband, and molten chocolate cake for me. The scoop of house-made ice cream with my cake was the real highlight, as was the raspberry coulis. I had mentioned when we made the reservation that it was our anniversary, and after we had finished our desserts they brought us a plate with two homemade chocolates and "Happy Anniversary" written in chocolate. I thought it was a very nice touch. The maitre d' had also wished us a happy anniversary when we came in and gave our names, as did our waitress when she came to take our order.
We also had two cocktails each as well as a half pitcher of wine, and the bill was $135 before tip which i though was fairly reasonable for all the food we ate!
Finally, even though it became quite crowded after 8pm, noise was not an issue at all and we were able to continue our conversation without straining to hear each other. We're definitely looking forward to going back.
I just read the profile of Bistrot Minette in Philadelphia Magazine: The story was about what was involved getting the resto open. It sounds like a great spot. The owner was extremely persnickety about making the place look and taste authentic. I just hope he gets his servers straightened out.