Park Bistro, June 15, 2005

Danna was kind enough to surprise me with making dinner reservations tonight at Les Halles (Park Ave. South) on her way home from work. The reservation was for 9:00.

Being 7:45 or so, and having other plans nixed, we decided, at my encouragement (I've listened to Steph, RGR and others on Chowhounds, as well as have had my own mixed reviews of the John St. location), to check out Park Bistro.

What a great little restaurant.

The same dishes at Les Halles were between one to five dollars cheaper at Park Bistro and, without giving away my full review right away, without the attitude and raucous customers.

Danna was in the mood for steak. I was in the mood for mussels and just about anything else. And so we had several good options to choose from.

I had the mussels and she had the prosciutto plate with mango salad.

The mussels were just fine, but the broth was excellent. It had a thai-lime flavoring to it that just got better and better as you dipped the fluffy and flavorful bread into it. Yum. Mussels are becoming a favorite of mine and this version squashed any fears I might have had about the dish being just your typical wine broth.

Danna's prosciutto looked excellent and although she didn't share any, she was sure to clean the plate and offer positive reviews but wasn't totally sold on the mango salad's other ingrediant (which neither of us can remember at the moment).

Danna ordered the filet mignon with frites but requested another sauce, other than bernaise. The chef was kind enough to make a red wine and peppercorn sauce on the spot. The filet literally fell apart. Deliciously tender, cooked medium rare despite Danna's request for medium...but the chef knew what he was doing...and we were both glad for it. The frites were uneven. Some were limp, others were overcooked. Honestly disappointing, but the chef is clearly interested in the "real" food. The only hiccup.

I ordered the duck breast with port sauce and duck confit (orange flavor). This was served with circular slices of roasted potatos, corn (straight from the cob), wilted spinach and something else that escapes me. The duck was delicious. Actually the whole dish was wonderful. The duck thigh (confit) was crispy when and where it needed to be and velvety elsewhere. Excellent dish.

We opted for just water tonight however the wine by the glass was on a "ask your server" type of basis. They were encouraging half bottles.

Service was fast, efficient, unobtrusive, friendly (huh?), yes, friendly and accomodating. I can't say a bad word about it.

This is, if I were to actually be able to have such a thing, the place I would be a regular at. It's my speed. The volume wasn't at hush level, but was moderate to low, the clientele were "business casual" couples that probably ARE regulars and the room itself felt like a true, French bistro...slightly worn around the edges (not too polished) but well kept with nice appointments. And enough choices to keep me content.

I will probably take my parents, in-laws and maybe my more sophisticated "couple" friends (I tend to hang with a mixed bag of friends) back here but I'd rather we keep it for ourselves.


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