Sunday, March 25, 2012
in restaurant, french, bistro, westmount, moderate, <$40
In keeping with the theme of sticking to familiar places, we decided to go to Bistro on the Avenue, a place one of us has been to many times while the other hasn't yet. We're trying not to be too adventurous at first, while we get our site ironed out. Not surprisingly, the restaurant was very quiet on a Sunday night, as only a handful of tables were occupied. Don't be fooled though, this place does get busy during the week and for weekend brunches.
tagged no need to reserve
The setting and décor is very reminiscent of a typical Parisian bistro: dim lighting, leather banquettes and brass props. The crowd, however, is a completely different story. This is senior citizen central, which should come as no surprise; we are in Westmount after all. The soundtrack for the night was a greatest hits collection of Elton John, mostly from the 80s (I guess around the time this crowd was middle-aged).
tagged geezer gathering
the menu consists of the usual lineup of French bistro classics: onion soup, salade niçoise, steak-frites, mussels, bouillabaisse, confit de canard, as well as a few baguette sandwiches and burgers. At an average price in the mid-twenties for the mains, we thought the menu was a little over-priced considering its simplicity and the minimal table setting. You can get something a lot more creative and sophisticated for the same price elsewhere.
French Onion Soup
Traditional French onion soup. Not much to say. Could have been hotter and could have used a little less salt, but a good dish otherwise.
Beef Carpaccio with Oriental Dressing
The title of the dish mentions an oriental dressing, so I was expecting some sort of Asian influence. The dressing I got was so overpoweringly lemony that I could not discern the quality of the beef used. The dish and the beef looked good, but I couldn't taste it. And there's nothing “oriental” about the dressing.
The broth itself was simple. I could see such a broth coming out of a home kitchen that doesn't see bouillabaisse often, but from a long-standing French bistro, I expected something a little more sophisticated. The seafood (salmon, bream I think, scallops, mussels, and shrimps) was slightly overcooked. Not a total miss, but it was subpar from such an establishment.
Classic Steak & Frites (8oz)
Very generous dish with the half-half salad-fries option. The steak was slightly overcooked for medium-rare, but the beurre maison added some flavor and juiciness. Also, I would have much preferred crispy, yellow fries to go with the steak, especially since we're in a very “French” restaurant.
The service was good. We were seated quickly (it was a slow night) and our waiter was hospitable. When I ordered the braised ribs, he informed me that it was out and suggested the bouillabaisse instead; I like that the waiter knew the food and suggested something he likes. The food came out relatively quickly (again slow night). When we asked to take pictures of the place, the waiter nicely told us he would have to check with the owner, who did not mind at all. Overall pleased with the service.
tagged love the attention
If Bistro on the Avenue were to launch today in any other location, it would not survive, due to its price point and lack of creativity. However, it is a favorite among Westmount locals, and is a viable option if you live nearby and don't feel like cooking. In other words, we would not go out of our way with the intent of coming here, but we also wouldn't mind revisiting this long-standing establishment every now and then.
tagged plan b.
Price per person: $35