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Apr 14, 2014 11:09 AM

Best french bistro (Bistro Campagne? Bistrot Margot?Chez Simo Bistro?)

My parents are visiting in a couple of weeks and I know they love a good French bistro but having trouble getting an accurate read of what's out there. About 10 years ago we ate at Bistrot Margot and they loved that but from the reviews it seems the quality has declined somewhat. But that's the idea of what I'm looking for . . . something nice but not too pricy or too dressy but really excellent, comforting food (In other words a classic French bistro . . .).

I had originally settled on Bistro Campagne but again it seem like maybe it's not as good since the owner passed away. I've heard great things about Chez Simo Bistro and kind of leaning towards that now. I live in Lakeview so would prefer to stay on the North side but would travel for something that perfectly fits the bill.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. My vote for the best goes to La Sardine, which is in the West Loop. Le Bouchon is their sister restaurant in Bucktown, which is somewhat more convenient to Lakeview. So if I were you, I'd go to Le Bouchon. Both of these have half-price bottles on Mondays and a special prix fixe for the entire menu on Tuesdays.

    Bistro Campagne can be somewhat inconsistent, sometimes excellent sometimes just okay, and can be VERY LOUD.

    1. Mon Ami is waaay better than any of these other than Le Bouchon. It would be (and is often) my first choice). Campagne is no good and Margot only average

      1 Reply
      1. re: industryguy

        If you mean Mon Ami Gabi, I've eaten there several times. It's pretty good, but I'd give the nod to La Sardine (and presumably Le Bouchon) over Mon Ami Gabi. I would not call Bistro Campagne "no good"; I've had some very good meals there, but it's just inconsistent (and again, LOUD).

        FWIW, I haven't been to Bistro Margot or Chez Simo.

      2. Nsxtasy pretty much nails it. Le Bouchon. I think that it has more of a "bistro" look and feel to it. There is, however, one very important distinction between Le Bouchon and La Sardine. The Chocolate Souffle. They serve it only at La Sardine. It is the finest in the city. Eating it, you will feel like you have died and gone to souffle heaven.

        3 Replies
        1. re: hoppy2468

          Thanks so much for the tips guys. I'm actually thinking of biting the bullet and going to La Sardine. It looks like it might be a little more comfortable than le Bouchon?

          1. re: titleTK

            I haven't been to Le Bouchon so I can't really compare the atmosphere at the two. I can tell you that La Sardine is a casual, comfortable, lively restaurant, with brick walls, tables somewhat close together (not objectionably so), and a moderately high noise level (but again, not objectionably so). The overall experience is casual and fun.

            Incidentally, one other difference between the two: La Sardine accepts reservations on its own website as well as over the phone. I know Le Bouchon doesn't accept them on its website, I don't know about by phone. Also, La Sardine fills up on Tuesdays when they run their prix fixe promotion, so you'll definitely want to make reservations in advance for Tuesdays as well as weekends.

            Although Le Bouchon is a little bit closer to Lakeview and doesn't involve going through downtown, the difference isn't huge, and it's pretty easy to get to either one.


            1. re: titleTK

              Le Bouchon is smaller. It feels more like a little neighborhood Paris bistro. A little more casual and comfortable. Very good choice.

              I am also a big fan of Bistro Campagne in LIncoln Square. Their roast chicken is some of the best I've ever had. The chickpea crepe is also wonderful. Plus, with the weather getting nicer, they have a beautiful outdoor dining space that is a huge attraction.

          2. ".... a classic French bistro . ..."
            OK, it's a little bit out of the way, but Froggy's French Cafe in Highwood has been serving up classic French bistro cooking for 30 years. The pace is unrushed, the atmosphere is conversation-friendly, service is polished, and the food is first-rate.
            As for getting there from the city, Metra is a good bet.
            The Union Pacific North Line stops right at their front door. There's a stop at Ravenswood, fare is $5 or so each way. Bring a bottle of wine for the trip, perfectly legal and acceptable on Metra trains. It's a very relaxing way to travel; you even get a tour of the North Shore suburbs in the bargain.

            1. Very disappointing dinner at La Sardine a month ago. Escargots & steak frites, is it too much to expect those to be good at a soi-disant "bistro"? And they were - if "chewy" is a good thing.

              To be fair, the frites were acceptable.