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Table Talk: Bistro LeRoux

By Blaze Marshall

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This past Summer, another magnificent gemstone was added to our regions tiara of fine dining establishments. Bistro LeRoux opened on Route 149 at the site of the former Bayberry Corners and Cherry Tomato.  Jacob Guay, a 1997 native of Fort Ann, and his wife Tiffany came back from several experiences at fine dining establishments in the west, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and struck out on their own.

The former owners, also of the Ripe Tomato in Saratoga had to scale back and were very particular to whom they passed their skillet to.  After checking out the Guay’s credentials and meeting Jacob’s mom and dad; Bob and Elaine, the deal was sealed in less than five minutes.

Jacob had truly been a vagabond cook and Bob’s proudest moment was when he could announce to Elaine “Your baby’s coming home.”  And home is behind the open kitchen just as you enter this very classy, friendly, casual eatery on the corner of Bay Road and Route 149.

The exterior has been brightened up with yellow and white stripes, window awnings, and a newly paved parking area. The minute you walk in the door you sense a feeling of shear pleasure; a cozy bar and a small lounge, smiling faces on the wait staff, neat black uniforms impeccable from head to toe.  You know you are in a special place for certain and you haven’t even tried the food.

Our party of five ambled to the bar, met Stefa, who had preceded the Guay’s at this location and was led to our table at our exact reserved time, even though the dining areas were filled to capacity.

There are two separate dining rooms, one with cozy booths and another with open tables called “The Park Room.”  This dining area is adorned with beautiful photos of the many national parks that the Guay’s have visited in their travels.  Indirect lighting, imitation grapevines and tables complimented with fresh flowers, all add to the comfortable yet classy atmosphere.

Chef Jacob’s menu features both half and full orders, classified as small and large.  I rate both adequate to size and price and suggest you let your appetite direct you to your portion choice.

For starters there is a roasted tomato and cognac bisque and a French onion soup. Baked brie, crab cakes, toasted goat cheese, shrimp cocktail or an andouille sausage and fennel ravioli with oyster mushrooms and wilted arugula are also options to begin your meal.

A lavish selection of salads includes a Caprese with fresh tomato, seasoned mozzarella and basil. Additional salads include a very different caesar cobb, stuffed poached pear and a curly beet.  More about those later.  You can add steak, chicken or salmon to any of these offerings.

Entrees keep the taste buds flowing with a Black Angus burger with smoked gouda, tobacco onions, lettuce and tomato on a toasted potato bun with gruyere fries. There is also grilled salmon, an apple braised chicken waldorf, BBQ seitan lettuce wraps with grilled pineapple, candied walnuts and blue cheese and a grilled bone-in pork chop with hot fruit salsa.

Our waitress Diana delivered a basket of excellent sourdough bread and a young man poured tall glasses of ice water almost immediately.

Jerry the Good opened with a poached pear salad stuffed with mascarpone cheese, candied walnuts, cherries, spinach and doused with vanilla fig vinaigrette. What a combo, what a salad!

Bistro LeRoux, at the intersection of Bay and Rt. 149

Yours Truly as well as Penn State Mom, went with a curly beet salad.  Curly strips of fresh beets and arugula, crispy prosciutto, blue cheese and toasted almonds anointed with black berry brandy balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Another hit!  I chose the small portion yet wished for more.

NASCAR Nut began with his usual French onion soup with melted provolone as well as the caesar cobb salad. The crispy romaine was there but at Bistro LeRoux, so was diced hard boiled egg, red onion and roasted tomato in a balsamic creamy lemon caesar dressing.  It was topped with a basil pesto crostini slice.

Miss Picky Eater and her spouse are both beef lovers and it came as no surprise they went for a New York strip and grilled ribeye respectively.  The ribeye was lightly marbled, fork tender and came with the house signature demi-glace; a rosemary cabernet combination that kicks this cut up more than a notch.

The New York strip was grilled to perfection, consisted of a warm red center, charred outside and was topped with brandied chipoline onions. This entrée also included garlic herb mashed potatoes that contained roasted bits of fresh corn kernels.  Yet another interesting combo that truly works to please the palate.

Jerry the Good latched on to the veal osso bucco that arrived with some wonderful creamy parmesan polenta and broccolini.

I enjoyed six crab stuffed jumbo shrimp with bits of chorizo sausage sautéed in garlic and white wine and tossed in a delectable shallot mornay sauce.

Penn State Mom’s grilled salmon was finished in a grand marnier bur Blanc and came with a very interesting grilled onion stuffed avocado.

I will state here that the portion choices are accurate.  Small is small and not for the diner who is famished.  The prices however, are very fair for the quantity, quality and presentation of each platter. The other good news is that Bistro LeRoux’s portion choices allow you to leave room for some wonderful desserts.

They are headlined by the house- made raspberry and candied ginger cobbler served with a scoop of delicious vanilla bean ice cream. We five also split a caramel apple pie, tiramisu of coffee and Marsala dipped lady fingers and a great, creamy New York style cheese cake.  We all got a scoop of that delicious ice cream.  The desserts come from Sweet Street Desserts in Reading, PA.  Well worth the trip!

After dinner, we decided to stop at the bar where we chatted with Bob Guay, the proud father of Chef Jacob. He and his wife Elaine were all over the restaurant on our visit, cleaning tables, checking on orders, greeting customers and now speaking with us.  The pride, care and devotion shows through in their manner and speech.

Bistro LeRoux was suggested to me by a reader of my column whom I greatly respect.  He was right!  Like so many other longtime restaurants that have been successful in our area because of family involvement, this one can not miss.

While the combinations might sound too gourmet for some, it is not!!  It is first class, creative culinary art offered by a caring, unpretentious family in a very friendly, warm and casual atmosphere.

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