With Bistrot la Minette on one corner, Beau Monde across the street, and Coquette down the street, we think that the area around 6th and Bainbridge in Philadelphia should be called the French Quarter. Last Thursday, Bistrot la Minette had a special tasting menu with wine pairings for $50. We were really excited to sit in the new courtyard in the back.
Soft french bread with salted butter staved off our hunger while we waited for the first course.
The olive tapenade amuse bouche was pleasant. It tasted like standard olive tapenade with a good salinity.
The first course was fish soup (aka vichyssoise) with toast pieces topped with pureed potatoes and shredded cheese. The soup had a rich and full briny seafood taste. I thought it was a bit too strong but the toasts cut the fishy taste for me perfectly. This course was served with a rose from Chateau Mourlet. It was like pulling teeth getting that little bit of information from the waiter!
These scallops were the best scallops we’ve ever had. We agreed. Matt: Best scallop ever! The seasonings were simply salt and olive oil, served with diced vegetables (summer squash, red pepper, onion) AKA Ratatouille as per the chalk menu in front- far more helpful than our waiter. We were served a Viognier with this course. When I asked where it was from, the server said: “um, Provence.” Thanks. I didn’t pry. The wine was surprisingly and overly sweet.
The beef stew, Provencal style, was very tasty. The beef fell apart. Some of it was extremely tender but a few random pieces had gotten a bit too dried out. Cooked with the beef were perfectly roasted fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, and olives. The sauce was rich but was used in just the right amount. The beef came with a Cotes du Rhone. By this point we had given up asking for any additional information about what we were being served.
Our final drink was St. Germain liquer and Savignon Blanc with spritzer and ice. Dessert was a creamy creme brulee with a rich berry sorbet filled with bits of caramel. The sorbet was so dark it looked like chocolate. Besides the scallops, this was my favorite course.
The moral of this restaurant adventure was that the food was delicious but the service should have been much better. A trained monkey could have served us our wine and food. None of the dishes were explained to us. “This is fish soup.” “These are scallops.” “Viognier is a grape. This is Viognier from, um, Provence.” Um, thanks. But we have no idea exactly what that was, nor the Cotes du Rhone that was served with the beef.
One of the appealing aspects of a tasting menu is that you don’t always know what you are getting until it is set in front of you, but then you usually have a trained server explain the food and drink in detail. We’ll go back, but only when we can order and know what it is that we are eating and drinking.
**Update: after I posted this I received a follow-up note from Bistrot la Minette. It stated: “Our first tasting menu had a hiccup or two, and I appreciate you filling me in on the service issues. Having been a James Beard award winning Service team member, this is an issue that I take great care in and will remedy well before the next tasting menu evening takes place.” **
Just to clarify, Matt and I look forward to trying Bistro la Minette again and we will be posting another review in the near future.