Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bistro de Paris

****This restaurant out of business as of March 2009.******

So, we had read one of the "reviews" of this place in a local magazine and hubby really wanted to go. He really likes French bistro food, and so far, this was the only one we had heard of in the metropolitan area. I use that term "metropolitan area" because this place is up in Carmel. Old downtown Carmel to be precise. So it means a drive which is why we have been avoiding it up til now. But I really wanted something new because I have been having some bad luck lately with food, so off we ventured (and on a Friday night no less). I say that because traffic is one of the reasons we avoid the area--going north at dinner time means traveling with all those Hamilton county commuters. However, as it turned out, we went a bit later than normal and missed most of the traffic.

We we went in, and I was a little worried as there was only one other table seated. In San Francisco, that would not be a good sign. However, I realize the place is fairly new (only opened in February) and that sometimes it takes a lot to pull Hoosiers away from their favorite chain. The interior of the restaurant is quite nice--and like a very nice bistro might be in Europe--but with tablecloths and more comfortable chairs. And by the time we left, the place was pleasantly crowded, I would say a little over half full.

The server was exceptionally friendly and well-versed on the menu. He brought us a taste of the French onion soup which is apparently a house specialty and he just wanted us to try it. It was good, but generally that soup is a bit much for me, so we ordered other things. He also brought us a taste of the wine we wanted to order which I also found quite a nice touch. He knew the menu well, and obviously this is the type of restaurant in which the chef gives samples to the waitstaff so they acutally know what they are talking about. I have been to too many restaurants around here where the waitstaff has never even tried the item I was asking about.

I started with the Salade au Roquefort which was Boston lettuce and a bit of endive desribed as coming with croutons, bacon, crumbled roquefort and roquefort dressing (I do love my blue cheese). It was good--the lettuce was fresh and the flavors generally good, but based on the description, I found it wasn't blue cheesy enough. I think I counted like three "crumbles" and it needed a bit more of the dressing. Maybe a little extra dressing on the side would improve it.

Hubby had the crab cake which I had quite a bit of, and I liked that it was presented in a unique way. It was a good crab cake (nice big chunks of crab) and was served with a red onion vinagrette, yucca mash and plaintains. They all complimented each other quite well. I especially loved the red onion vinagrette, it was nice and tangy they way I like it.

The star of the evening, however, was clearly the steak fritte. This was something we often had at a little French Bistro near our house in England, and another little French Bistro near our house in San Francisco. Usually it is a very thin ribeye with housemade frittes, or really thin french fries. There is usually some bernasie-y type sauce or an herbed butter, but for whatever reason, they always seem to share a distinct flavor. This one was actually thin filet medallions with very thin frittes and a blue cheese (yes, there is a pattern here I know) bernaise under it all. It was SO GOOD. I am ready to go back RIGHT NOW and order it again. Hubby was very jealous (of course I shared though). And considering how thin it was, I was amazed it was cooked properly (I always worry about this with this entree, but good places pull it off). Now, if you read my last entry for Creation Cafe, you probably think I seem to be ordering a lot of steak and blue cheese. And you would be right. Who knows, maybe I am a little anemic or something--usually steak is not what I order, but in both cases I was glad I did. Hmmm...maybe I am turning back into a real Hoosier with all this beef.

On a side note, we also noticed as we finished up our entrees, that at every table in the restaurant, and I mean, every table, at least one person had the steak fritte. So obviously, we aren't the only ones coming in for it!

Hubby had the "Bistro" which is their version of surf and turf with veal and lobster tail. Hubby said the veal was very good, and properly cooked medium rare the way he likes it, but the lobster was overcooked (sadly such a recurring problem with lobster). I didn't even try it (I am not a veal eater for various reasons, and I refuse to eat overcooked lobster. It is a travesty). It was so bad (the lobster that is) that he hid some of it under the mashed potatoes just to spare the server's feelings (he really was nice, this guy).

We both know the next time we go we are so getting TWO of the steak frittes. And I will probably try a new appetizer. Hmmm.. Brie springrolls sounded intriguing...or maybe the scallops. And we will go back, thanks to the call of that steak fritte.

Bistro de Paris
11 West Main Street
Carmel, IN 46032


  1. Love your blog - keep the reviews coming! I love that your reviews are truthful. :)

  2. My wife and I went here back in September, hoping that we'd found a place for some good, bistro fare to get us through the winter. What goes better with a cold night than some pate', soupe a l'oignon, steak frites, cassoulet, mon Dieu! I'll agree the steak frites were very good, but everything else wasn't up to snuff for a place charging these kinds of prices.

    For the first visit we stuck with bistro standards to see how they handled the classics. We split an order of escargot, and it just wasnt' a very good dish - and they're almost impossible to screw up. Escargot are all about the herb butter, and the butter was totally meh. Usually we fight to sop up the last of the herb butter with bread, but this night it just sat there.

    French onion soup was some watery, characterless stock and the cheese crust was some thin little huh? sprinkling of what I seem to recall was roquefort, the dish was just not good. C'mon, either do this correctly or take it off the menu - you're allegedly a bistro. It's not like Indy is swimming in bistro's like Chicago and you need to do some variant on the classic to separate yourself from the competition. Why not just do a correct french onion soup with a good, intense stock and a thick brown bubbling crust of gruyere and leave it at that.

    My wife had scallops, which were just ok. The wine was a decent selection but with a stiff markup. The bill for two people was like $150 for 2 apps, 2 entrees and 4 glasses of wine. The price/value equation didn't come anywhere near to adding up, so we won't be heading back here anytime soon - and we love bistro food and this is the pretty much the only game in town. Please dear God give me a good classic bistro in this town, is that too much to ask?