Located on the North side of the island in a largely residential area known as Hodges’s Bay, Le Bistro consistently seems to get very high marks from a variety of review sources. Does it stack up to those reviews, we went to find out.
Entering Le Bistro restaurant one could see that it was clearly a much more elegant and continental looking restaurant than others we had visited. A large photo print of the L’Arc de Triomphe outside one “window” enhanced the French ambiance even while the coral colored walls, open windows and beamed ceilings reminded us we were still in Antigua. The tables were elegantly set with tablecloths and an extensive array of assorted dishes, flatware and glassware. For all its formality the guest attire was mostly dress casual or a little more fancy.
As soon as we sat we were given small spoons of a delightful crab salad to whet our appetites for what was to come. The menu was lengthy and while we understand why the item titles were written in all capital letters and French for effect, it forced one to read the entire description of each item to select a choice. A quick glance at English titles would have enhanced comprehension and quicker selection.
Our party of six ordered a variety of items of which I sampled four and wine for the table.
A tiny sampling of the L’ELEGANCE DE LANGOUSTE A L’ANANAS – Fresh Local Lobster Cocktail, Maria Rose Sauce with Black Pine-apple was very tasty and while I would have liked a much larger sample, I refrained as it was not my order. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to lobster bisque so the bar was pretty high when the LA RICHESSE DE LA MER EN VELOUTE – Seafood Bisque with Lobster Ragout and Basil Infusion was ordered. Even trying my best to appreciate the nuances and subtleties of French cooking, I was unimpressed with the choice. The dark “broth” was more thin than the creaminess I associate with a bisque while the small dollop of ragout added a much needed flavor enhancement that left me yearning for more.
For the next course my companion ordered a “special” of pork medallions in a brown gravy that was excellent. Half way through the meal the side dish of outstanding vegetables was served including a wonderful stewed red cabbage and several selections of local squashes. Had they been served a bit earlier in the meal he felt he would have been able to enjoy them even more as part of his entree.
Once again, perhaps I lack the requisite “nose” to fully appreciate the nuances of fine French dining but I was disappointed in my order of the delicious sounding serving of MEDAILLONS DE LANGOUSTE VAPEUR SAUCE CHAMPENOISE AU SAFFRAN – Succulent Medallions of Lobster Steamed Champagne Saffron Sauce with Green Asparagus. The presentation was stunning but when one feels the asparagus is the best part of a lobster meal, something is amiss. I struggled to find much flavor in the thin champagne saffron sauce, even as I tried to aggregate some quantity of flavor by scouping it up with a spoonful of rice. While i’m not too familiar with the flavor of saffron, champagne I know very well and I was hard pressed to detect any essence whatsoever. While the idea of lobster medallions sounds exotic and appealing, I found it difficult and annoying to extract what I found to be tough, rather than succulent meat, from slices of spiny lobster shell slices.
While the service, for the most part, was friendly and professional I feel we could have used a bit more attention as the dining room filled. We ordered one serving of crepe suzettes along with our entrees as requested on the menu so we were a bit surprised when once the table was cleared for dessert we were asked if we wanted to place an order for the dessert.
The ensuing extensive delay to fulfill the previously ordered specialty forced our cab to wait extra time. The preparation fanfare and flambeing was fun to watch and the dividing up of a single order of crepes and ice cream was most appreciated and handled without complaint. The dessert was delightful but all agreed that any more than our respective 1/6 serving would have been too much of the rich sweet indulgence.
All in all the side vegetables, service, ambiance and company mostly made up for my disappointing meal and my partner thoroughly enjoyed the pork medallion special. The rest of the group seemed pleased with their choices. With two bottles of wine the meal with tip ended up costing about $100 usd per person which we thought was reasonable. With all the dining choices avilable on Antigua I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to return to Le Bistro on a future trip but if “island style” dining experiences are not your thing or you yearn for an elegant upscale civilized european syle meal in this tropical paradise, this is surely a place you need to try.
Review: Le Bistro French Restaurant Antigua
Visited: January 20, 2017
More Information: http://www.antigualebistro.com/home/