Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mediocre French in SoHo

Restaurant Name: Bistro Les Amis
Location: SoHo, New York City

Having read some pretty positive reviews of Bistro Les Amis in SoHo, my husband and I chose it for our Friday night dinner out. We were hopeful, yearning for a great dining experience.

We were very disappointed.

While Bistro Les Amis is charming, cozy, and very welcoming - the place has very good service - the food is just not good.

We had an appetizer and entree each and shared a bottle of Sancerre for a final bill of $130.

We started with two of their specials - the escargot and the lobster bisque. Of the two, the bisque was the better. It had a good flavor (not complex, but with a strong lobster taste) and was nice and hot. But, the texture and consistency were pretty bad. The bisque wasn't smooth; there were tons of tiny lumps (either a problem when cooking the original roux or the need to pass the soup through a tamis).

The escargot were simply a sad failure. Usually when this happens, its because the snails themselves are no good (overcooked, etc.). In this case, the snails were fine. They were also, however, smothered in so much harsh, raw-tasting garlic that they were virtually indistinguishable from it. We couldn't even eat half of the dish between us.

For dinner, my husband had the cassoulet. This started out pretty promising (it was served at the table in a Le Creuset dish, piping hot). The duck confit was tender and moist (it was the best part of the cassoulet). The beans were strongly tomato-flavored (which was weird) and otherwise had little presence. The sausage was downright awful. Worse, none of these elements cohered (I can't imagine that this dish was actually prepared over 3 days, as is traditional).

I had the filet mignon with caramelized onions and bearnaise sauce. The filet itself was huge and cooked as I had requested (bloody). But it tasted like nothing. I realize that this cut of beef is not very flavorful, but this tasted like *nothing*. Well, I thought, at least I have caramelized onions and bearnaise sauce to spice things up! Um, not so much. The onions were good - very dark and brooding. The sauce was gloppy and actually tasted sweet. Not a happy thing.

We wisely skipped dessert and headed down the street for chocolates at Vosge (which never disappoints).

I really wanted to like this place (not only because we were dropping a large portion of spending money here, but also because it was cute and run by such friendly people). But it was just no good.

If you are looking for a great French bistro, make the effort to head over to Brooklyn Heights and eat at Le Petit Marche."

Bistro Les Amis on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

maxine said...

I respectfully disagree with you about Bistro les Amis, We have patronized this tiny bistro for years and despite that this place is not a culinary institute we have enjoyed our meals there.