As a travel and food writer, I often eat at new restaurants in Chicago and other major cities around the US. Every once in a while, I come across a restaurant where I am torn when writing my review. When you have a fantastic restaurant experience, sometimes you can’t help but tell everyone you know. Other times, you want to keep this experience – and the restaurant – to yourself, hoping that the city-dwellers (and heaven forbid, the tourists!) don’t learn about your new favorite place, which can ultimately make reservations a challenge.
So is the case with Bistronomic, a relatively new French bistro in the Gold Coast of Chicago. On one hand, I want to tell all of my Chicago friends and colleagues about the incredible charm of the restaurant – from the red photo-covered walls, to the black and white accents, to the perfectly, tucked-away location just steps from Michigan Ave. On the other hand, I don’t dare mention the amazing food….so simple, yet prepared with great passion that only a true French chef can muster in the US.
I was invited to dine at Bistronomic on a Wednesday evening where – I confess – I expected to find many empty tables. Instead, patrons, many of whom I learned were returning guests, filled the room. The guests – couples, business colleagues, and small groups – all were lost in conversation in their own Paris-like hideaway. The chatter of patrons sitting at close-knit, candle-lit tables, combined with the French jazz accompaniment provided the perfect ambience for a quintessential French bistro.
But let’s not forget the star of the evening – what would a French bistro be without le food? Knowing my dietary restrictions ahead of time, Chef Martial prepared several wonderful dishes in a 3-course menu, all shared by guests at my table. Although every dish I tried seemed to be better than the previous, there were a few gems I feel compelled to mention:
- Chiogga & Yellow Beet Salad with goat cheese and hazelnut vinaigrette – light and flavorful – a simple and lovely way to start our meal. Honestly, if you think you don’t like beets – maybe because you were forced to eat the red, syrupy kind when you were young – give real beets by Chef Martial a chance!
- Grimaud Duck Confit with fresh cranberries and sweet potato puree – a dish reminiscent of old-fashioned Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, yet proportioned appropriately so as not to induce the standard post-holiday dinner sleepiness.
- Wild Mushroom Ravioli – the perfect blend of wild mushroom puree wrapped in homemade pasta, covered in mushrooms, shaved parmesan, and a splash of oil. This was, by far, the most wonderful pasta dish I’d eaten in a very long time.
- Black and White Crème Brûlée – a creamy, vanilla bean base with a surprise of bittersweet chocolate mousse under the burnt sugar, creating a dish that was both heavenly – for the taste – and sinful – for the calories – all tucked into a ramekin.
Beyond the deliciously fresh and savory food, the very French wine list, and the extremely affordable prices, the restaurant offered much more than most French bistros in Chicago…..a French chef who has a hand in every single aspect of the restaurant. Executive Chef Martial Noguier, a Paris native, owns and operates the restaurant, in addition to creating and preparing all of the French-inspired dishes. I’ve even heard that, in the warmer months, he can be spotted riding his bike from the restaurant to the local farmer’s market to pick up fresh ingredients for the day, giving guests the ultimate farm-to-table experience.
As you can imagine, Bistronomic made quite a strong first impression on me – which I am happy to relive in multiple future visits. For this reason, I can’t help but recommended this restaurant to anyone living in or visiting Chicago…..but for now, let’s keep that our secret.