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Since Chef Michael Gottlieb has taken the helm as the Executive Chef at Bistro Bordeaux (618 Church St.), a quaint romantic spot in downtown Evanston, the restaurant has experienced a resurgence from all sides.  Besides bringing some specials in with ingredients sourced from local purveyors and farms, Gottlieb has put together a menu with classic dishes that have been elevated to his own tune.
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Within minutes of sitting down, chef sent out a delicate starter to get the night going.  A delicious fresh salmon tartare lay before us on a large oval platter.  Atop the coarsely chopped mixture of fish and seasoning were a melange of pickled veggies – radish, onion, tomato slices, baby yellow cauliflower and one of my favorites – a few sour caper berries.
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The fish was extraordinary.  So fresh and clean, the chop was perfect for ease of eating and all the veggies provided a nice briny contrast to the rich fatty salmon.
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Next up was duck confit with braised Beluga lentils.  The plating was gorgeous.  I’ve had many a duck confit over the years, and this one was prepared with finesse and a delicate touch.  Tender and moist with delicious slightly earthy flavor, the quality of the duck was great.  Chef says it’s sourced from a hand selected farm.  You can taste the difference.  The duck was slow cooked in its own fat until ready to serve.  The lentils were plump and brought an extra element to the plate that was different from other preparations I’ve experienced. Oh yeah, a sunny side up egg – yes please.
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Between the confit and the next course we ordered, chef decided to send out something special.  He was participating in Chef Week the following day and wanted to get my opinion on his first course for the event.  He presented a simple medium sized mason jar.
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I opened it up to reveal a layered heaven of sorts.  On the bottom, a refreshing vibrant green celery gelee.  On top of that, a generous portion of duck rillette – duck once again, cooked in its own fat, this time served at room temperature and shredded.  The third layer consisted of kumquat slivers with the finishing touch atop, several large cubes of decadent foie gras.  Are.  You.  Kidding.  Me.  Over the top.  Give me crostini and call it a day.
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I don’t often order steak tartare for a couple reasons.  First of all, I need to trust where the meat is coming from since, after all, you’re eating raw Filet Mignon.  Second, most restaurants don’t execute the dish properly.  The coarseness of the chop is wrong, the seasoning is wrong, breadcrumbs, egg, mixing, the list is long.  There are so many steps in crafting this simple dish; many chefs ruin it – completely.  This kitchen uses prime Filet Mignon in their tartare and tops it with a fresh quail egg.  The serving was more than generous.
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Main course?  What better way to take this uber rich meal to the next level?  Dry aged steak you say?  How about a Prime Rib eye that’s been dry aged about 30 days in house – that you get to order by the ounce!  I’m game.  14 ounces of beef bliss.  I went back to the kitchen to say hi to chef.  I could see the line cook slicing my portion of steak from a larger side of beef.
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Again, their product is sourced from a specially selected purveyor and they dry age in house which creates a completely unique product – unlike anyone else just by the nature of the beef itself and their dry aging conditions.  Served atop a bed of roasted veggies and finished with a thin slice of mild farmers cheese, the steak was delicious.  Earthy, smoky, super beefy.  Excellent flavor and super tender.  I slowly slid down into my seat and settled in for an enjoyable food coma.
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Room for dessert?…always.  This time we couldn’t resist the Pan Perdu.  Essentially a rich, ooey gooey French Toast that got its name from the French translation “lost bread.”  French toast was a solution to doing something with the stale or “lost” bread.  At Bistro Bordeaux theirs is topped with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and caramel sauce.
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A slice of the Bistro’s famous chocolate terrine was sent to the table as well.  Simple.  Chocolate in slice form.  Why wouldn’t it be absolutely awesome?  I’m not even the biggest chocolate lover at heart, but this dessert was over the top luxury at its best.  Thank you Chef.  Thank you Looty for the wonderful birthday dinner.  And thank you to Evanston, Illinois for still housing small chef focused restaurants practicing what the best downtown spots are preaching these days – great flavors at extremely reasonable prices.
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I’m hungry.  Let’s eat!

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One thought on “#125 – Bistro Bordeaux. Chef driven food, downtown Evanston.

  1. Scott,

    I’m friends with your aunt patty. Totally love your food blog. You have a way with words. Only problem is they make me want to make a Road trip to milwaukee or wherever. Keep up the good work. Ellen

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