2010-02-24 / Restaurant of the Week

Bistro Les Minots

On a recent chilly, winter night, Bistro Les Minots was the perfect romantic restaurant to warm up in and enjoy a wonderful meal in traditional French bistro style. The charming interior features brick walls with gilded mirrors and paintings by local artists, petite wooden tables topped with glowing candles and rich, red leather banquettes


to help you settle in and relax. A glass of wine will

also help in that regard and there are many reasonably priced vintages from the U.S. and France. The friendly, helpful owners, Henri and Yann, will gladly suggest an appropriate bottle if you wish. We are happy to help them celebrate their first anniversary here in Astoria on March 1st with a menu that features lots of new dishes and classic favorites, all expertly prepared and beautifully presented. Best of all, the prices are very affordable, especially when you consider the prix fixe meals that are offered.

In order to sample all the new dishes, my companion and I were presented with a tasting menu that exemplified the best this little bistro has to offer. What a treat to receive a plate of four handmade ravioli filled with sweet lobster meat resting on a puddle of creamy lobster bisque and garnished with chopped tomato and crispy shallots ($12). “Les escargots de Bourgogne” are tender snails sautéed with garlic, red wine, shallots and parsley nestled in flaky puff pastry ($8). The earthy flavors and wine reduction makes this dish extra special, not to mention how pretty it looks on the plate. Henri brought a glass of white Cüte du Rhone to accompany these dishes, which was just perfect. A classic onion tart called “La Pissaladiére” is prepared with sweet onion, anchovies and black olives on a hand made crust ($7). Traditional French onion soup is sublime here, topped with croutons and melted gruyere cheese. A cool refreshing salad of endive, green apple and nuts gets a creamy bite from Roquefort cheese.

Les Moules are mussels, prepared three different ways that can be ordered in small portion as a first course, or as an entrée sized portion with a side of crispy frites. We tried the mussels Moroccan style, with spicy Merguez lamb sausage and chick peas in an aromatic broth that begged to be soaked up with the crusty bread on the table. Mussels Provencale is prepared with tomatoes and herbs and sends its intoxicating aroma into the air when the lid is removed at your table. On Tuesday nights, you can enjoy unlimited mussels of your choice for just $19.95!

There is an incredible prix fixe dinner, served Tuesday through Sunday from 5pm to 10pm for just $19.95 (cash only) that makes a meal here a “must”. Choose an appetizer, main course and dessert from the prix fixe menu that includes the escargot and onion tart mentioned, as well as salad or soup of the day. Entrées include a classic grilled hanger steak, cooked to order and served with shallot Bordelaise sauce and their fabulous frites. Le coq au vin is a hearty dish of chicken stewed in red wine with mushrooms, bacon, carrots and onion and is the perfect winter comfort food. Grilled salmon is perfectly seared and served with chick peas, carrots and zucchini. Vegetarian risotto is made with fresh vegetables and creamy risotto.

On the a la carte menu you'll find the braised lamb shanks, made from tender young lamb and served two shanks to a portion over garlic mashed potatoes with a red wine reduction that was superb ($17). Tender medallions of pork are served with white bean stew and grainy mustard sauce ($16). Flaky red snapper fillet is served with a vegetable stew called ratatouille. A roulade of chicken breast is stuffed with spinach and mushrooms and sliced into pretty pinwheels with mashed potatoes and fresh veggies.

Even though you'll be full, you must sample their delicious desserts, including a petite duo of créme brulee, apple tart or delicate crepes. A cup of espresso or coffee is the perfect accompaniment.

Visit on Saturday and Sunday for a fantastic brunch served from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm. Once again, the prix fixe menu costs just $13.95 (cash only) and includes breakfast items such as pain perdu (French toast), omelets of your choice, eggs Benedict and Croque Monsieur, a version of grilled ham and cheese like none you've ever tasted. There are salads, burgers and steak too, if you want something more like lunch. At 5:00pm, dinner service begins on the weekends. There's a lunch prix fixe menu during the week as well and Bistro Les Minots is open six days a week for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. They are closed on Mondays.

Bistro Les Minots holds special events such as live music during brunch and screenings of French films. They will happily plan your private party with a specialized menu. Go to their website and get on their mailing list and Yann will let you know about upcoming events, dinner specials and more. In these tough economic times, a meal at Bistro Les Minots will transport you, at least gastronomically, to France, while keeping you on your budget. Vive la difference with a meal at Bistro Les Minots!
Bistro Les Minots
47-16 30th Avenue, Astoria

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