It was a perfect night to dine on a patio, and picking Bistro Cacao – sandwiched between a packed La Loma and Cafe Berlin – was an obvious choice for my French house guests (especially since I hadn’t been since the week it opened and wanted to try it again).
All the tables on the patio are pleasant, sitting underneath huge umbrellas weighted down to avoid disaster. But they didn’t keep the same question from raining down upon us – three times, by three different people – within a period of ten minutes, and before any order was taken: ‘Would you like still, sparkling, or tap water?’ Three times! It sounded like a broken record, and it sounds like a record that will never be broken.
Those of us that enjoy
lifewine ordered a glass of Château Magneau Graves Blanc ($9, and I can’t remember if it was an ’09 or the first tranche of ’10), but this is a great wine for a restaurant to sell because it only retails for about $15 a bottle, is dominated by Sauvignon Blanc, and speaks strongly of Bordeaux. The glassware here is good, and the pours are fairly generous.
If the trio of questions seems awkward, more awkward still was The Wait. My guests weren’t really hungry and only ordered one small plate each, while I wanted two courses. One of these was the Salade de Truite Fumée ($9.95), smoked trout atop red beet with fresh grapefruit and mango dressing. It arrived first, and since one of my guests ordered the same thing, I offered it to her, figuring the other two plates would soon follow.
Then we waited, and waited, and I said, “You know what? I think this might be my salad because I ordered two courses.” Yes, it became obvious that’s what it was, so I took the plate while they just sat there, and felt obliged to scarf the damned thing. I don’t think this is the restaurant’s fault so much as it was “weird ordering.” Still, I was sort of assuming that their plates would come out with my first course, and they’d just have to eat a bit more slowly than me (I’d love to hear some opinions on how people think a restaurant should handle this situation).
The salad was fine with one huge, glaring exception: the huge, circular, bright red slice of beet sitting underneath the trout was canned! The last time I had canned beets was about five years ago – ironically, at L’Auberge Chez François. This is one vegetable that turns to mush when it’s canned, and it’s unacceptable to serve anything but fresh beets in a restaurant that’s not in the Poconos.
My second course was wonderful. Cuisses de Grenouille “Provençal” ($9.95) was three pairs of sautéed frogs legs with eggplant, potatoes, and parsley-garlic sauce. This was a great dish from Bistro Cacao – Kemal Deger is a fine cook (I’m assuming he cooked this), and this dish was well-designed, well-integrated, and well-executed. Don’t shy away from this appetizer just because it’s frogs legs (unless you’re a frog) – get this.