Bistro Bobette

I don’t do many restaurant reviews, save during Restaurant Week, since they have nothing to do with my kitchen, but this place is worth a mention.  It’s a French bistro in Shockoe Slip around 12th and Cary.  Here’s the deal:  great food, lovely people, terrific bar and the best creme brulee on the planet, bar none.

The service is lovely and at whatever pace you choose to set.  Order everything at once if you like or order a salad, soup or other starter and see what you feel like when you’re done with that.  The wine list is long and entirely French.  For those of us with limited knowledge of French wines the list does a lovely job of identifying the region and the grape  so you can easily find something you like.  The staff is also knowledgeable.  If you can describe what you like they can find something for you.

I can only speak for what I ordered, but I have nothing but good things to say.  The arugula salad is bright and yummy with a few blood orange sections to perk it up.  The best part is that under that pile of fresh baby arugula are little toasts covered in creamy goat cheese.  Much nicer than the typical sprinkling of goat cheese crumbles.  There are lots of good options in the entrée section of the menu as well.  From the very French veal kidney to the more broadly appealing sauteed trout it’s difficult to make a decision.  I chose the cassoulet because  while there are a lot of imitators out there, a well done cassoulet is not easy to come by.  This one has duck, pork and lamb with white beans and carrots and comes in an individual cast iron dish.  It was lovely, in presentation and flavor and generous in portion size.  I’m wishing today that I had asked them to wrap up the leftovers.

The creme brulee gets its own paragraph.  I don’t often bother with non-chocolate desserts, but I’m very glad that my dinner companion ordered this one.  The creme brulee is vanilla, as it should be, complete with the any tiny black flecks that tell you a real vanilla bean was involved.  When it’s this good there’s no need to fancy up the flavor.  It’s served cold, as it should be, with the most perfect charred sugar crust on top.  The topping is thick enough that you have to crack it with the side of your spoon.   Truly.  Fabulous.

The bar is in the back of the restaurant so you might assume there isn’t one, though the foot traffic indicates that plenty of folks know about it.  It’s a small and intimate space, chic and charming.  The liquor selection is ample without being overwhelming.  I admit to making a suggestion on the bourbon selection, so if you see Basil Hayden there, you’re welcome.

If you live in Richmond, make plans to visit.  If you live elsewhere, plan your next special occasion here.  Rumor has it that the Valentine’s Day menu is prix fixe and something special.  Make your reservation now if you hope to get a table.  Tell them that you heard about them on the blog!



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