Nestled between a boutique and a doggie bakery in the middle of Town & Country Crossing, a romantic little French restaurant has opened. Bistro 1130 is a delightful gem of Gaelic culinary expertise, with a touch of Indochine thrown in to mix things up.
It’s a tiny spot, with about a dozen tables, a small bar and a few tables on a surprisingly private outdoor patio surrounded by wildflowers and a duck pond. The inside is done quite dramatically in black and gold, with black tablecloths, gold flock wallpaper and sconces, crystal chandeliers/pendant lights, and attractive ivory leather tufted banquettes.
Menu items are not cheap, but they are well-executed and real treats. There are classic offerings like French onion soup, escargot and foie gras, but also more adventurous items like ahi tuna with cilantro-ginger soy that are not exactly typical French haute cuisine.
We started with Vol-aux-vent au Fruits de Mer, puff pastry with seafood and béchamel sauce ($11). A light-as-air shell came brimming with wonderful chunks of sea scallop, lobster and shrimp in the traditional white sauce. The sauce was both light and creamy at the same time and an excellent accompaniment to seafood. Also on the plate was a salad of baby greens dressed with champagne vinaigrette.
Next came two delectable soups: Bisque de Homard (lobster bisque, $11) and Oignoins Gratinee (onion soup, $9), each a hefty serving. The bisque had an excellent balance of lobster flavor, cream and liqueur, none overwhelming the others. The onion soup was beefy, not overly stuffed with onions. It was topped with the traditional crusty bread and melted gruyere, again, not overly so. And the cheese was of excellent quality, with a mild, delicate flavor.
The entrée menu is small but mighty, with four fish dishes, four meat dishes and a couple of vegetarian entrees (risotto and pasta). Prices are mostly in the $30 range. We had Coquilles St. Jacques (seared sea scallops, $29) and Cotelette d’Agneau (lamb chops, $38). The scallops, four enormous ones, came perfectly done, with a good sear and a creamy sauce with cognac and saffron. They sat around a mound of jasmine rice and leek confit, with a dash of orange piperade adding color and spice.
Our lamb dish was as pretty as it was delicious, each small chop well-trimmed of fat, cooked to the ideal doneness and topped, variously, with three different finishes: goat cheese, boursin and herbs de Provence. A demi-glace was drizzled over all, and on the side were two pretty little cakes of potatoes Dauphinois and some ratatouille. The chops were very good, with two of the toppings adding a creamy element and the third, a nice herbal flavor. The potatoes were rich in this traditional treatment of cream and butter. The ratatouille added a strong savory element, with its diced peppers, onion, carrot and celery.
French desserts are legendary, and the ones here lived up to that reputation. We had a lemon tart with blueberry jubilee and vanilla lavendar crème brulee. The tart, lemony and sweet, sat in an excellent pâté briseé shell near a pool of fresh-made blueberry sauce. The combination of smooth, creamy lemon and the sweet, chunky berry sauce was heavenly.
The crème brulee was also wonderful, creamy and laced with the delicate flavors of lavendar and ground vanilla bean. It was served with an almond-y tuille and decorated with bright yellow spun sugar. A couple of delicate beignets, melt-in-your-mouth light, were also on the plate.
I cannot overrate this new French spot. The food is divine and the service very professional and friendly. Our table was cleared of crumbs continually, our piping hot rolls and water replenished throughout the evening, our silverware replaced numerous times. And the presence of a very French (and ebullient) maitre‘d/owner went a long way to making us feel like we were overlooking the Seine rather than a mere duck pond in West County. This is one place where you truly get what you pay for—if you can’t be a regular, make it a special occasion restaurant.
Pear Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Courtesy of Eric Miranne, Bistro 1130
In a pot put ½ L Cabernet of your choice, 1 c orange juice and 1 oz grand Marnier. Bring it to boil.
Core the seeds out of the pear, peel the pear, then poach it in the red wine liquid until it is slightly soft, depending on the size 3 to 5 min.
Take the pear out of the liquid and chill it in the refrigerator for about 15 to 25 min.
In a mixing bowl put 1/4 c Cranberry puree, 1/4 c sherry vinegar, 1/2 c olive oil, 4 t of orange juice and 1 lemon zest. Mix well.
Toss the salad of your choice with the cranberry vinaigrette. Put it on the plate and add the Pear William. For the garnish, use dry cranberries and walnuts and crumbled cheese of your choice, et Voila.