Reading the recent posting of "Where do you want to go in 2011" got me thinking that my most disappointing meal in a long time was Bibou. It wasn't the worst meal of 2010 but our expectations were high and they weren't met. After reading Robert Parker's review of Bibou, having several friends tell us how wonderful their meals were, and seeing this "Where do you want to go" posting, I convinced my SO to give Bibou another try...and we are! We have reservations in January.
I can't remember what our foodie friends had (they are coming too, again) but my SO had a flank steak so tough that it was inedible and he left at least half or more on the plate. Truly. He decided not to say anything to the server as the foodie friends are my friends and he had just met them and didn't want to seem like a complainer. I had a fish dish with a red wine sauce. The fish was really lovely but the red wine sauce fought the fish. There was a 'one time' scallop appetizer that was really amazing and would love to have that again but alas, not likely. I did also enjoy the snail ragout (which I had as my dessert) and thought the daily foie gras was good (but not great). I think one of our friends had the Pied du Porc, which she liked and was glad she tried, but she wouldn't order it again. Can't remember what her husband had except that he thought it was 'okay'.
Here's my question. What did YOU have at Bibou that was outstanding? We would LOVE recommendations!
I've had the pig's foot, salmon salad, escargot and the bone marrow. I loved the salmon salad, escargot and pig's foot. Thought the marrow was really good but the filling was heavy on starch. The Demi glacé sauce with escargot was great (and what isn't in demi). The salmon salad was studded with roe and had nice textural contrast. The pig's foot was packed with rich porky flavor and crispy on the outside. Really big and perfect for winter. I had an Alsace Riesling with the salad, Cotes du Rhone with the escargot and Bordeaux with the pig's foot and bone marrow. Excellent meals.
WE try to eat at Bibou once a month. We've had and loved the foie gras in different guises but we try to avoid it since we don't feel it's healthy. We had the pigs foot only once and it was delicious but way too much for either of us (we're getting old!). We ate there the other night and had the gravlax (husband) and the mushroom fricasee which I adore (me). He had fish and I had the breast of guinea hen -- excellent. Desserts were floating island for both -- also delicious.
It sounds like the flank steak was the worst part of the meal and really should have been returned. No one wants to be the complainer, but I'm certain they would have gladly made it right, apologized and probably given you something extra for your inconvenience. The Calmels are sweeties and want to make you happy. The primary server, Fritz (?) may appear brusque, at times but he would've made things right, too.
I can't speak to the fish sauce but I agree with your friend about the Pied du Porc.
After over a dozen meals at Bibou I've had a few that were very good but not as sublime as the hype would leave a first-timer to believe. They're not responsible for the hype, but they're stuck with it as long as they keep serving me the sublime at least 75% of the time.
I love the foie and escargot but often order other apps. +1 on the game dishes There are so many outstanding dishes I can't recall them all. Last month we really liked the gravlax and the bouillabaisse was phenomenal. The hangar steak is a sleeper, which was ordered by someone in our group the first visit (3 days after opening) and has always been very good to outstanding. I swear, their bread has crack cocaine in it.
In my experience, there were a few disappointments such as hard to find fresh frogs legs that Charlotte and Pierre both recommended but which I thought were average.
Bibou hits my sweet spot in so many ways I still get excited when we go.
If this is one of your disappointing meals last year, cook262, I would like to know where you've been eating all this year : ) I can tell you with some confidence that place like this does not exist in NYC where I am from, and we were very glad to have found Bibou; our search during last year for something like this turned up very little in NYC while much more successfully in Montreal.
We started off with oysters w/ mild mignonette, followed by subtly flavored escargots and duo of palette-coating foie crème brulée and perfectly seared foie gras with candied butternut squash. The house made rabbit terrine “en aspic” with griottine cherry which the wife Charlotte was very proud of, was memorable and delicious, and we could understand her pride on the first bite. (we asked for an extra takeout order for home).
Sautéed hanger steak with green peppercorn sauce, sautéed fingerling potatoes, and green asparagus was least successful dish of the night with bit limpid peppercorn sauce but perfectly medium rare steak and freshness of the asparagus keeping its cool under the heat , while the pied de porc was succulent and fatty, served on the steamy bed of french lentils cooked precisely al dente. One of the three among their cheese course was a chèvre from Loire minutes away from where the wife's grandmother lives, and along with the generous portions sent us on many happy memories.
All in all, their sophisticated but rustic meal accompanied by friendly and casual service makes us want to return here again very soon, and while it lasts.
Foie gras, bone marrow and sweetbreads.
I've been to Bibou 3 times in the past 3 months (not to mention when Pierre was guest chef at Blackfish) and have never had a bad bite.
Which is not to say I've liked everything I've been served, just that it was perfectly prepared. I had the world's best stinky tofu too ("Dai's House of Unique Stink", Taipei, Taiwan), but I wouldn't eat it again. Maybe you just don't like their style of Alsatian-influenced traditional French bistro food? I thought the foie gras-stuffed pigs feet (Pied du Porc) he served at Blackfish was impossibly rich and I would never order it again (it actually made me feel queazy), but others raved about it (including Robert Parker).
Obviously flank steak is a tough cut, which is why it is usually served thinly sliced (which also avoids the problem that a diner may cut it wrong and claim it is too tough). I haven't had it at Bibou. Was your SO's served very rare? I believe that is the traditional French approach, which would help on the tenderness front.
Come to think of it, all the soups I've had at Bibou have been amazing (and I don't usually remember soups).