One of my biggest pet peeves with restaurants these days is that so few change their menu or atmosphere. It may be because they are afraid to upset their customers but I can tell you how bored we get with the same predictable experience. It's not just dining establishments in small towns. Keeping the same menu in cities like Boston or even Portsmouth doesn't work either because there are many new restaurants opening and diners have more choices. To survive change is a must.
So, it is refreshing when an owner takes a chance and goes out on a limb for their customers which brings us to our recent experience at the Bridge Street Bistrot & Wine Bar in Portsmouth. This is the former Cafe Mirabelle at the same location.
You will find a trend that seems to indicate an increasing popularity of Bistros or Bistrots and the owners have jumped on the band wagon. There are many of these smaller European style cafes in Montreal but few in New England. They join the likes of Jo's American Bistro in Newport, Rhode Island who are trying to capitalize on this trend and we hope the start of a lot more Bistros on the horizon.
On to the specifics: My wife took me here to celebrate my birthday. We started with a glass of wine since they are a wine bar and a full bar in case wine isn’t your beverage of choice. I selected a Merlot and my wife a Riesling.
Their menu is focused on French cuisine, for starters you will find baked brie and artichoke dip, escargot and mussels and soups and salads. Main dishes include chicken, duck, seafood and beef. To begin we started with two appetizers. I chose the mushroom crepe.
Fungi are not normally one of my favorites but I recommend this dish that had a light sauce with a generous filling of tender mushrooms. My wife chose their Portobello mushroom with lobster and crabmeat stuffing topped which she enjoyed very much.
Next we both had a cup of their seafood chowder:
With plenty of large chunks we would definitely get this again.
Next for our entrees we had their beef tenderloin with butter served with a side of string beans and carrots and a wedge of the potato cake.
We both enjoyed our meals – the steaks were grilled perfectly as were the vegetables which were cooked with a slight crunch as they should be.
Finally we finished with chocolate cake for dessert.
While we had a main sever, it was nice that the whole wait staff helped each other out so that we were never waiting for anything including keeping the water glasses full at all times.
We recommend that you visit The Bridge Street Bistrot & Wine Bar and see a fresh look that has had the desired impact.