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The space is small (and hidden inside an office building, in a waaaay-off-the-tourist-track, zero-glamour locale), and the food is simple - mostly soups, sandwiches, salads, and crêpes, with a few daily specials and more substantial entrées. Yet the experience is so satisfying that, like the mythical first illegal drug hit, one meal instantly turns most diners into addicts. Prices are luncheonette-level low, but fine-dining niceties - such as entirely housemade breads and pastries - abound. Proprietor Caroline Poussardin and her parents ran restaurants in Aix-en-Provençe before moving to the States, and the solid French technique shows throughout the menu, from humble items like butter/sugar crêpes (made with Brittany's signature buckwheat batter) or unusually subtle pea soup to big food such as a fresh Scottish salmon fillet, in lovely lemon sauce, with sautéed shrimp plus three veggie sides. For $23.95, a prix fixe option is available for dinner of three courses - with a glass of wine free from 6 - 8 p.m.
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When the Chinese chain P.F. Chang's, a frozen meal delivery service, and a complex computer program all use the word bistro to describe themselves, you know just how far the word has strayed from its origins, on virtually every urban street corner in France. Bistros are supposed to be everyday eateries affordable enough that neighborhood regulars can go every day for a glass of wine and simple but impeccably executed food that is basically — forgive the pickiness — French. At little Côte Gourmet, which opened as a breakfast/lunch spot but now also serves dinner Thursday through Saturday, all the classic bistro basics are there, along with some delightful extras. Breads and pastries are all housemade (and excellent); the bistro's flavorful savory and sweet crêpes ($3.75 to $8.75) taste like a trip to the French countryside for a reason: They're made with nutty buckwheat batter, as they have been in Brittany since the 12th Century. Lunchtime's popular blackboard special (which is different every day but has included crisp phyllo triangles stuffed with tuna, capers, onion, tomato, and buttery potatoes, for $10) is a filling meal thanks to a bonus side salad of mesclun that's dressed as perfectly as a Parisian couturier. At night, entrées such as traditional beef bourguignon ($20.50) or shrimp-topped pan-seared Scottish salmon in delicate lemon sauce, accompanied by three veggies ($17.50), are more pricey, but $25-and-under dinners are doable.
When the Chinese chain P.F. Chang's, a frozen meal delivery service, and a complex computer program all use the word bistro to describe themselves, you know just how far the word has strayed from its origins, on virtually every urban street corner in France. Bistros are supposed to be everyday eateries affordable enough that neighborhood regulars can go every day for a glass of wine and simple but impeccably executed food that is basically -- forgive the pickiness -- French. At... More »
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