Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Grab Your Glowsticks, Because this one's a Rave: Bistro V in Greenwich

A fixture on Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich, CT since 1980, Bistro Versailles & Patisserie has been in the capable hands of Marc and Evelyne Penvenne, who also own Méli-Mélo Crêperie & Juice Bar across the street, since 2014. The couple hails from the Bretagne region of France, and have brought a freshness to the atmosphere and cuisine at Bistro Versailles. The interior feels like an upscale yet relaxed French cafe, and the food is both delicious and beautifully presented. 

Get ready for a rave review; each course topped the last, even when it had seemed like nothing could possibly be more delicious than what was already in front of me.

My evening began with a novel 
a splash of Byrhh (fortified wine flavored with herbs and cinchona bark, a natural source of quinine) added to crisp champagne. The combination was unexpected and refreshing, and paired nicely with the warm garlic parsley wafers that arrived as our group filtered in. 

We were also treated to smoked salmon on rye with dollops of tart crème fraîche, and toasts topped with Pâté and cornichons. The evening was off to a tantalizing start, but the magic was yet to begin. 

First, something i had never experienced: watermelon and ricotta salata salad with candied watermelon rind. Lighly drizzled with tart lemon vinaigrette, this was a refreshing dish and the rind was unexpected but I loved it.

The chilled poached Maine lobster, drizzled with cilantro emulsion and accented by hearts of palm, was a mix of textures. I had some tail and some claw; the claw was sweet and tender but the tail was less so. I mention this only because I fear a reviewer who only tried the tail might be unimpressed with this dish, when the claw was actually excellent. I was particularly a fan of the hearts of palm in tandem with the cilantro.

Now I'll start raving. Once the next dish, crispy skinned Branzino, arrived, I was blown away from the first bite to the last nibble of dessert (and this was the consensus at my table as a whole, it seemed). 

The fish was sweet, flavorful, tender, moist - all the words we use to describe something delectable. The skin was perfectly, completely crispy. The shaved fennel underneath was laced with lightly sweet citrus that offset the savory fish beautifully. 

This course was paired with a Lebanese white wine, Ixsir Altitudes, that was excellent and unlike any wines I've had in the past. Every course, in fact, was expertly paired with a wine that enhanced the experience. Wine is always good with food, but sometimes wine can take excellent food and make it transcendent. This was the case at Bistro Versailles. In addition, I had the pleasure of sitting across from Anatoli Levine, who is not only a food writer but a wine connoisseur, and his insights made for an educational evening (you can check out his website here.)

Steak tartare is a favorite of mine and I was excited to try it at a restaurant that was proving to be quite a special place. No surprise, it was wonderful. Executive Chef Erik Erlichson, a classically trained French chef and graduate of New York Restaurant School, blends the traditional tartare accoutrements, mixes them into the meat, and then adds them in chopped form for texture. This method made for a richly flavored tartare.

My favorite dish of the night, difficult as it is to choose just one, was the crispy Hudson Valley duck breast with a salad of confit, snap peas, and carrot ginger dressing. The table fell silent (except for a few delighted sighs) while we cleaned our plates, and then erupted into excited commentary about how excellent this dish was. Two people at my table said they don't even like duck, but loved this dish. 
Dinner ended with a giant platter of steamed mussels, bathed in white wine, lemon, garlic, parsley, and thyme. I would have drank the sauce straight if only I had no sense of social graces. So good. We were also presented with hot, perfectly oily, house made pommes frites, which disappeared at lighting speed. 

Dessert was a chilled fruit soup and tart frozen yogurt which was light yet satisfying, and very refreshing.

If it isn't abundantly apparent already, I'll reiterate: this was one of the best meals I've had in a long time.

Bistro Versailles is a must visit restaurant. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay informed of specials and events. They are located at 339 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT.

All photos are copyright me, Adeline Crites-Moore.

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