Friday, March 03, 2006

Le Bistro in Lighthouse Point, Florida

When I started this blog I fully intended to review various restaurants around Albany, and I will get there, but when I go to a great restaurant elsewhere, I figure it deserves a mention.

Yesterday we went to Le Bistro restaurant in Lighthouse Point, Florida. I was looking for something special after going to a couple of ultra-cheap and unmemorable places. Le Bistro had a number of good reviews from local papers, so we took a shot. It was excellent.

For a start we were given four very small pieces of bread with a white-bean dip that had a touch of a curry flavor. Nice touch. Heather had a tomato soup, which was wonderful. I had a black bean soup which was fine, but not as good as the rest of the meal. Then we split the simple green salad, which came with a very good balsamic dressing.

Somewhere in there we were given a small plate with a grape, a chunk of swiss cheese, and something else I forgot. Again, a nice touch. Before the entree we were also given a sorbet, raspberry I think. Probably the best sorbet I've ever tasted, though I rarely eat sorbet.

The entrees were fantastic. Heather had tenderloin in bordelaise sauce. I had surf and turf, with tenderloin, lobster, and the biggest shrimp I ever saw (called Colossal shrimp). It was close to a foot long. Presentation was a touch over the top. Heather's "stick fries" came standing up in a tall wine glass (with paper to absorb some of the oil I suppose), and it also came with grilled tomatoes that were sitting on small puffs of mashed potato. On my dish the lobster and shrimp were skewered together so that they stood up on the plate. There were also two skewers with roasted garlic and olives.

Our steaks were cooked perfectly and the sauces were delicious yet subtle -- the sauces did not overpower the other flavors. My lobster and shrimp were good, but the steak was so good that the other items didn't stand out. I had a side of grilled vegetables and that was good but not in league with the steak. One notable thing about the veggies though -- the waiter (Ron) kept commenting on how the chef uses the freshest ingredients. He was correct. The asparagus and zucchini in particular had a very fresh taste to them. Perhaps the chef didn't oversauce them to show off the freshness. In my experience store-bought zucchini and asparagus are pretty bland. These veggies had a real "green" (I can't think of a better word) flavor.

Heather had chocolate mousse which she liked very much. I had creme brulee, and it was without question the best creme brulee I ever had. I don't eat creme brulee often (more than sorbet), but I've had it enough that this means something. It was served in a deeper cup than I'm used to, and there was more creamy stuff under the caramelized top.

I find that one of the biggest things that separate fine restaurants from the rest is the texture of the food. Le Bistro gets that. The tenderloin is tender. The mashed potatoes are fluffy. Etc. Definitely a cut above.

It was expensive. We broke the century mark ourselves, and we didn't have wine. A couple could easily go over $150 or even $200 if you have a couple more courses. The 6-course tasting menu is "only" $45, which is a bargain if you like the items on the menu that day.

One other comment. While the food is fancy, the menu is clear so you know what you're ordering and it's mostly food you're familiar with. We were looking at another local place and Heather vetoed because so much of the menu was unfamiliar. If you're not the most adventurous type, you'll still like Le Bistro because it's really just regular food, but much better.