Sylvia and I were always great fans of Philippe Chevalier’s French restaurant in Lafayette but we were not quite so impressed with the prices there. We love French food, but not so much that you need to take out a loan to pay for dinner.
Now Chevalier is no more and the space has been taken over for Reve Bistro, the brain child of Paul Magu and his wife, Laura. But as Paul states on the website, “RÊVE is not that snooty, splurge-on-your-anniversary kind of French restaurant. This is your classic, everyday neighborhood French bistro. That kind of cozy little place you’d imagine in Saint Michel or Saint Germain.”
It should come of no surprise then, that we dined there just 2 days after the opening and I have to say that we were both completely impressed by the food, ambiance and authenticity there.
There are few structural changes from when it was Chevalier, other than the fact that the large tent-like structure that provided a covered dining patio is no longer there. It will not be missed!
The ambiance is quite different though. With just a dozen tables, glass chandeliers on the ceiling, black and white tablecloths and monochrome photos as décor, it really is very reminiscent of many bistros we have enjoyed throughout France during our time living in England.
Another thing we remembered about the bistros in France is that the food was invariably delicious and reasonably priced. Plus it frequently offered opportunities to try dishes that were completely unknown to us (even assuming we could translate the French menu items to English).
Reve Bistro is true to all of those things. At a glance, the menu offers choices that include some familiar dishes and some not so familiar. And they obviously strive to offer good value.
On our first visit, neither of us had an appetizer, although their were some interesting choices including house-made pâté & rillettes and a wild mushroom tart. Plus naturellement, French Onion Soup, which I was told by a diner on the next table, was delicious.
Sylvia ordered an old favorite, Steak frites, which at Reve is a seared skirt steak served with fries, shallot confit and red wine sauce. The fries are served separately, as a generous portion. Good value at $22 and she enjoyed it immensely.
I decided to be adventurous and went for the braised beef cheeks that were served with soft polenta, seasonal mushrooms and pork belly. I had never tasted beef cheeks before and found them similar in texture to short ribs but far more tender and super-tasty. This is a dish I would definitely have again.
For a dessert, we shared the Tarte Tatin, an open apple tart, served hot, with ice cream. One of the best desserts I have had in years! French style patisserie at its very best.
All of this we accompanied with a bottle of Acacia Carneros Chardonnay that we had brought along with us. I should note that corkage here is charged at $25, which is higher than most restaurants in the area. They do have a varied wine list though, with predominantly French wines including a number that I would happily order.
In summary, if you appreciate good food, go to Reve Bistro. You will not be disappointed. And visit their website at www.revebistro.com.