Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: Le Bistro by Roswell Provisions

Seriously, this sandwich is huge. 
We were dismayed to hear last month that Party Chic would be closing. I'd been a fan for years of their affordable menu, geared towards the ladies who lunch crowd in Roswell. It took awhile to get my husband on board, but he eventually caved to the lure of fancy cupcakes and five dollar martini specials. So it was a sad thing to hear the owners were closing it in favor of a new concept, more closely tied with the Roswell Provisions store downstairs that they also own. Our friends at Provisions assured us that we'd love the new place, that the recipes were being updated and that everything we loved would still be there, just better. Their enthusiasm was well placed, because the new Le Bistro is everything good about Party Chic, but better.

Spinach salad
In France, a "bistro" is a small, casual, moderately priced restaurant. Le Bistro is precisely that. The menu is traditional french cooking, made well and not nearly as pricey as some of the other offerings in the Historic District. It's a welcome break from the trend towards destination dining on Canton street. Which shouldn't be taken as a knock on Le Bistro, Canton street needs a mix of styles and prices ranges to stay vibrant and growing. I like having a super fancy steak house on the same street as a boisterous Irish pub. Tucking a casual French bistro upstairs over a wine and cheese shop is precisely what's needed.

My natterings about the proper mix of restaurants aside, how is the food? Good? Great? Terrifying? It's pretty good. This isn't fine dining, but you could take a first date here and no be embarrassed or break the bank. The menu is standard French classics, such as the French Dip, savory crepes and various other sandwiches and salads. The aforementioned French Dip is an improvement on the previous version, featuring a big pile of tender, slow roasted beef, tangy horseradish and a savory au ju that I'm told starts with roasted bone marrow and red wine. The pan bagnat is a big, sloppy pile of tuna salad spiked with potatoes, green beans, olives and more and served on what seems like half a loaf of bread. Seriously, it's like two meals worth of sandwich.

Chicken & mushroom crepe.
The spinach salad entree comes with almost too much bacon, but the warm vinaigrette  comes in a cute container and is the perfect balance of fat and vinegar. Most entrees come with house made kettle chips, but you can add a side salad with dijion mustard vinaigrette.

The wine list is small, it's a couple of varietals served in either a large carafe suitable for sharing, or a small one that equals about a glass and a half. You can also purchase a bottle from the shop downstairs and drink it at dinner for a $20 corking fee. They also have a full bar, featuring the fancy cocktails that made Party Chic so attractive, as well as the menu of cupcakes and other desserts by Kelly's Kakes.

The space itself has been lightly remade to fit the retro chic look of the Provisions store. Think lots of burlap and destressed wood and things made out of old wine barrels. They found a video of Roswell during the 1940's and it plays on continuous loop on a back wall, giving everything a nostalgic air. The front porch overlooking Canton street is still the best seat in the city for people watching on a pleasant, early spring day and the back patio is still lively and cozy with live music on the weekends.

All in all, I say the move from Party Chic to Le Bistro was a worthwhile one. They've kept the charm and added better food and a more appealing aesthetic.

Le Bistro on Urbanspoon

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