As long as we’ve been in Stamford, Chez Jean-Pierre was an instution on Bedford Street. There was rarely a day when the bistro wasn’t packed and never a beautiful day the front doors weren’t open to let the fresh air in. A collective sigh rose up, though, when Chez Jean Pierre closed last year. But then, like a beacon of hope, soon after, there was a sign up: Coming soon, Barrique Bistro & Wine Bar. When we inquired (like good food bloggers do) we found out that the brand new part French, part Italian spot was being opened by owner and Executive Chef Louis Barresi who also has Doppio Greenwich, Huntington, and West Village.
Well, we finally got our chance to try out Barrique one rainy night before we laughed our asses off seeing Jerry Seinfeld. What’s the deal with that? Right away, we were pleased to see they had a nice wine list, though the prices were on the high side. But since we found some “by the glass” options we liked, we got our wine on and figured out our food strategy: we’d take on a couple of apps and finish things up with an entree each. It was going to be interesting because the menu focuses not only on French classics like Chicken Liver Pate, Escargots, Steak Tartare, and Steak Frittes, but also Italian classics like Crispy Calamari, Caprese Salad, Risotto, and Gnocchi.
So here’s what we went with…
Grilled Portuguese Octopus: baby arugula, radichio, orange, pickled veggies, moscato vinaigrette. The octopus was cooked perfectly, having that gentle give but not being too chewy. The taste of orange added bright citrusy sweet bursts of flavor, while the veggies added a tartness. This was a very nicely balanced dish, but we were disappointed to see only one tentacle. The dish, at $16, was certainly expensive for an appetizer, so we expected a bit more. Gotta have more tentacles!
Tartine: prosciutto, crostini, goat cheese, fig mostarda, bitter greens, and truffle honey. This was a nicely balanced appetizer. The saltiness of prosciutto was well balanced with the tart creamy goat cheese and the sweet delicious fig, and the bread was nice and crusty. Kristien only wished it had more goat cheese, because she is a goat cheese fiend!
Mussels Basquaise (one of 5 choices): sofrito, chorizo, paprika. Oooo the fries were nice and crispy on the outside, hot inside, packed with parmesan and herb… and simply yummy, just like a good French/Italian chef is supposed to make ’em! The mussels were cooked well and the chorizo added a gentle spice. But what about the broth you say? It was slightly briny, had a subtle heat and was good and buttery to soak the fries in. Overall a great dish!
Skirt steak: cippolini, wild mushroom, charred asparagus, bordelaise sauce. The steak was cooked perfectly medium rare as requested and the mushrooms added a wonderful earthy flavor as mushrooms were born to do. The herb crust may have been a bit heavy, but otherwise we liked this. And, the asparagus was grilled nicely, just crispy enough like we like it.
Oh, did we forget to mention we had dessert too? Of course we did…
Creme brûlée: This was a nice big portion, unlike most places that serve you up a 4 tablespooner and leave you wishing for more. It had that quintessential sugary, crispy crust and a nice vanilla forward creamy center. Pretty standard, which is a good thing when it comes to good ‘ole Creme brûlée.
We thought the vibe at Barrique was nice. It had a good energy, yet was cozy, and even romantic. We felt the wine and food was on the expensive side, but it seems more affordable compared to other French restaurants in the area. The food itself was good…we weren’t blown away, but we weren’t disappointed either, so we consider that a win. We’d definitely go back, especially in the summer when the doors are opened up.
Ciao and au revoir!
Address: 188 Bedford Sreet
Phone: (203) 357-9526