Rangers, 4 vs. Devils, 1: Bistro Du Vent
For weeks I egged on Y.O./J.C. to own up to his end of our sports bet. The Rangers had not once, not twice, but three times won against those menacing horned ones across the Hudson River, the Devils. Initially we planned to go to L’Impero—an Italian restaurant in Tudor City that Y.O./J.C. kept raving about to me. However, with his hectic schedule as a nubie lawyer (i.e. he’s being slave driven by the law firm's partners), he couldn’t commit to a specific day to make a reservation.
Finally, I called him and put it to him straight: “Me hungry...please meal, now!” Okay, I was bit more polite and articulate than that—but I sure felt that way. After a few more calls to harass—er, remind him of our dinner deal, he finally showed up in my neck of woods one cold winter night.
“Where do you want to eat Rose?” he asked.
“How about Esca?” I reply with enthusiasm.
“Uh, how about something that won’t lighten my wallet so much," he quickly shot back.
Dang it. I really wanted to go there.
“Okay, how about Bistro Du Vent around the block?” I replied.
“Never hear of it.”
“French fare from the guys who run Esca. I hear good things about it,” I say with a devious smile.
“Okay, but is it Esca expensive?”
Again with a smile I said, “Oh no, it’s much more low-key. It’s a theatre district restaurant. Serves those going Broadway bound.”
Okay, so I told an itsy bitsy untruth here. Esca and Bistro Du Vent are both co-productions from Mario Batali, David Pasternack and Joe Bastianich (now producing the much touted, yet much plagued Del Posto Restaurant in the Meat Packing District)—the prices are nearly the same—but not being a foodie or very aware of the NYC restaurant scene, I snuck this past him.
When you walk into Bistro Du Vent you get a sense of rich colors and fabrics—from the wood paneling at the entrance to the deep tones of the leather upholstery in the back section. The subdued and very dim lightening matches the décor—it was so dark unfortunately none of my pictures came out very well. One large wall of the restaurant is dedicated to the restaurant’s wines—it almost jutts out into the main dining area. Behind white wooden doors with large glass cutouts were racks of their wine collection. We were seated near the windows, which are lined with bottles of fancy fizzy water which did seem a bit casual for such an otherwise stylish interior.
I started my meal with a crab salad with Peekytoe crabmeat, celery and green apply curry. I was impressed by the presentation—strips of apple crisscrossed on top of the crab mixture—it seemed so perfectly set in place I almost didn’t want to break up the harmony. That thought lasted two seconds and then I dug right into it. The curry was mildly sweet with a touch of spice that cut through the creaminess of the mixture and it turned a slightly boring crab meat mix into something a tasty and different from the norm.
For my entrée I ordered a wild stripe bass with a side of gnocchi in a shrimp-bouillabaisse sauce. I’m always hesitant about ordering fish. Some of my worst dining experiences have been when the “fishiness” of the fish cuts through and overpowers every other ingredient in the dish. Bistro Du Vent’s kitchen, however, has gotten the art of cooking fish down. It was cooked just long enough to render it soft and flakey which allowed the sauce to shine through instead of the fish. The sauce went incredibly well with the handmade delicate gnocchi.
The portions are a wee bit on the small side and my friend is a big eater. No, I take that back, he's a HUGE eater. So we ordered a side of pommes frites initially to share, but he pretty much ate them all. I did enjoy a few pieces, but nothing about them shouted "WOW!" They were just good, decent french fries.
To wash it all down I asked our waiter for some suggestions on wines that might compliment my dish selections. Our waiter seemed very knowledgeable about the wine selection and felt very certain that a glass of Henri Bourgeois "Le Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon" 2004 would be the best choice. It kind of took me back as how sure he felt about his suggestion. In most of my fine dining experiences the waiters or the sommeliers will often pepper me with questions about my own wine preferences and even then suggest several options, not just one. But I decided to go with it and he was right on the money. The glass was a perfect match for the light seafood dishes I chose—clear and subtle with a bit of zing.
Bistro Du Vent is clearly what it aims to be, an upscale French bistro restaurant that caters to the out-of-town theater going crowd. The dishes are a clever and smart twist on French bistro cuisine by using ingredients that we don’t normally associate with it. The waitstaff were very attentive and even my all wine knowledgeable waiter, while a bit assured of himself, was cheerful and positively on the mark with his suggestions.