*** (3 stars)
This is the largest of a number of French bistros in the area. Because it is large, it tends to be noisier, but not unbearably so; it just affects the intimacy, which seems better at the others.
The decor is traditional, and the menu also looks fairly traditional. However I found the execution of the food to somehow feel a bit like Americans trying to make French recipes using American ingredients. As a result, there wasn’t anything that really came together with the clarity and complexity of flavors you’d find in Paris.
We started with the mussels, which were in a creamy broth, however some of them were quite fishy.
The Salade Lyonnaise was a traditional preparation; the dressing was quite vinegary and the lardons were extremely smokey.
Smoked salmon was a fairly small serving atop a giant mound of potato salad… a bit odd.
The chicken crepe was fine. The special, Walleye with almond brown butter, was probably the best entree. Poulet Grand Mere, a house specialty, was just okay; the mushrooms, onions and potatoes in the accompanying stew were very, very cooked.
Our server was very busy, so his visits to the table seemed rushed and infrequent.
On the whole, I don’t think I’d return when there are several other bistros I like better within easy walking distance.
1131 N State St
Chicago, IL 60610