Baguette and Butter
Summer Melon – Bayonne Ham, Balsamic Fig Compote, Fromage Blanc Mousse
Tuna Nicoise Tartine – Marinated Tuna, Baguette Crostini, Quail Egg, Nicoise Olives, Traditional Garnish
Leek, Foie Gras, Pheasant, Sweetbread, Truffle, Chicken Terrine – Pickles and Warm Toast
Seared Foie Gras French Toast – Cassis Compote
Sole Meuniere –Baby Artichokes, Sunchoke Fondant, Wild Capers, Brown Butter, Fresh Lemon
Parisian Gnocchi Au Pistou – Goat Cheese, Summer Vegetables, Cherry Tomatoes, Toasted Pine Nuts
Coquilles St. Jacques – Dayboat Scallops, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Bloomsdale Spinach, Sauce Soubise
Lamb Rack “Frites” – Roasted Eggplant Puree, Ratatouille, Persillade, Chickpea Frites
Chocolate Macaron – French Chocolate Cookie, Vahlrona Chocolate Mousse
Crème Brulee – Vanilla Bean Custard, Turbinado Croquant
Mille Feuille – Caramelized Puff Pastry, Vanilla Crème Patissiere
Frozen Paris Brest – Hazelnut Ice Cream, Chocolate Cremeux, Salted Caramel Sauce
Cherry Clafoutis – Pistachio Ice Cream
Pavlova aux Fruits Rouges – Vanilla Meringue, Lemon Chantilly, Strawberries, Cassis Coulis, Lavender Gelato
Told by Chef Josh Smith that the current Summer in Provence Menu intended to take a look at the lighter, coastal side of the French Brasserie, another substantial tasting was arranged to once again experience the best of what Michael Mina’s Aria restaurant has to offer, the results every bit as good as would be expected as the kitchen rolled out eight new plates plus some old favorites and a few surprises.
Still a jaw-dropping room by way of its design, the early hour finding it empty but soon to fill with the sort of bustling sound familiar to the high-ceilinged spaces in France, it was with Champagne at the bar that time was spent waiting for a few late arrivals, but once the party was completed and all were seated the experience at the table was essentially unrivaled.
Seeing a few new faces amongst the service staff, everyone professional yet fun as in the past, it was with a welcoming from Chef Smith that the meal got started and eschewing menus in favor of a carte blanche offering the first course of Summer Melons with French Ham and whipped Goat Cheese was a refreshing way to start the evening, the flavors of a Nicoise Salad next cleverly presented by way of acid-kissed Tuna beneath Olives and a Quail-Egg atop a piece of Toast.
No stranger to the restaurant, the Chef going so far as to present course two as an off-menu special alongside a dish jokingly referred to as “a la my name,” one would be hard-pressed to name a better Terrine outside of Europe than Smith’s surprisingly light Leek-wrapped version featuring Pheasant, Chicken, Sweetbread and Duck Liver with a top-note of Truffles while the thick slab of seared Foie Gras was so thick and indulgent that it almost seemed too much for the Custard-rich Brioche below it to bear.
Begging off more Baguette, the recipe seeming to have improved to true Parisian quality with time, course three featured Bardot’s Pate au Choux Gnocchi dressed up for summer with Basil, Pine Nuts, Goat Cheese and Tomatoes while roulades of Sole draped in Brown Butter danced alongside earthy tones offered by Artichokes and creamed Sunchokes brightened by briny Capers.
Progressing like a proper tasting menu, more than enough of each dish to go around, savories concluded with shockingly sweet Scallops with Mushrooms and Spinach in smoked Onion Cream Sauce, the rare Rack of Lamb literally seeing meat gnawed off the bone by some while the roasted Eggplant, Panisse and layered Ratatouille from Bardot’s Instagram feed were perhaps even more compelling than the meat.
Always game for French Pastry, Bardot Brasserie having perfected the art from day one by reinterpreting Classics without compromising the idea, several old favorites were presented from the famous Macaron to the textbook Mille-Feuille, the Tart Tatin and Rice Pudding taking a break to instead focus on the summer-friendly flavors of a Red Berry Pavlova with light floral accents and warm pudding Clafoutis studded with Cherries that is slowly turned into a porridge beneath the melting Pistachio Ice Cream.
FIVE STARS: Better than any North American Brasserie I’ve been to, and topping most of the highly-regarded ones in central France as well, Bardot’s Summer in Provence takes Chef Smith and team’s cooking in a new direction that is as seasonally appropriate as it is delicious, an impetus for fans to return this Summer and all the more reason for a first visit to those who’ve never been.
RECOMMENDED: Tuna Nicoise Tartine, Sole Meuniere, Parisian Gnocchi Au Pistou, Cherry Clafoutis, Mille-Feuille, Foie Gras in any form Chef Smith chooses to serve.
AVOID: Um…Filling up on Bread?
TIP: Currently offering a Four-course Tasting, Bar Menu and Happy Hour specials the reasons and ways to dine at Bardot are a fit for almost all budgets and time constraints.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.