This place just opened on Bonita Ave in the Village. The hostess station is out on the street in front of the place and the attractive hostess does attract a lot of attention. The place has been redecorated with studied casualness since the former occupant, a Salvadorean(?) place folded.
The menu is imaginative for Claremont (well, OK, for anywhere). Baked snow peas and a huge plate of marinated olives with bread and pita crisps were good starters. Also on the menu are sauteed scallops with wasabi mousse and blood orange-Dijon nage as well as roasted fois gras and carmelized apples. 5 kinds of rolls served from a huge basket. There is also a cheese cart!
How's that for The Village?
Salads, including an Ahi Tuna one are competently done - again a lot of exotic ingredients.
Amazingly well prepared mains - schnitzel with mushrooms and crostini was unexpectedly really tender and picked up the mushroom flavors well. White fish had macadamia nut pesto, mango relish, and a cauliflower puree which unexpectedly all went together fairly well without any component being overwhelming.
But the real surprise was the roasted chicken - I wouldn't have ordered it, but got to have a taste after raves around the table. Worthy of a really good French bistro- extremely concentrated flavors, crispy skin, perfectly moist. This guy knows what he's doing. It came with haricots verts with bacon lardons - smoky and delicious- and deeply roasted potatoes. Next time I want to see if I can get a large order of the beans.
The chef served several of the dishes himself. Although I didn't get to talk with him, he seems in his 20s and I suspect a recent graduate of a culinary school.
There is also a 5 course tasting menu for $35 (didn't have time). Apps are $6-16 and mains $7 - 19 (for bouillasaisse). On the downside, service is still a little lacking, but the place is only a few weeks old. Not overly comfortable, with bistro type chairs and tables that are just a little close in places. No wines.
This may currently be the best food in the Village (though we also like Harvard Square) and is not the most expensive. The closest I have come to a serious restaurant in this area.
12AM Bistro (closes at 9pm)
353 West Bonita Ave