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New Trial | Oct 20, 200705:33 PM     11

As a caveat, this is just a first impression rather than a true review since it is not entirely fair to judge a restaurant by its opening night (or, in some cases, even month). Nonetheless, allow me to share some initial thoughts about Comme Ça with you. The place looks like a set designer's version of what a classy bistro ought to look like. There is a bar area anchored on one end by a cheese bar (no seating) and a drink bar with a few backless metal bar stools (the type which look to swivel to adjust height). There are also a handful of bar tables with short, small, square metal stools that appear to be designed to discourge lingering--or even milking. There are also a couple of dining areas which offer actual tables and chairs, though even those chairs were not geared for comfort. Service was friendly and included the always nice touch of refolding napkins when a patron temporarily left the table.

The wine list offers several good, decently priced offerings, with several by the glass and fewer by carafe. The menu is a sampler of several bistro and brasserie favorites, including a fruits de mer platter and the essential moules and steak frites, and a dedicated plat du jour. No bread was served except with individual dishes. I started off with the tarte flambe, which had a good flavor but the lardons were a bit too thick and chewy to meld with the tarte as well as they should (Mimosa's version is better). The bouillabaise had impeccably fresh ingredients (shrimp, whitefish and mussels) but--even with liberal doses of the saffron rouille--lacked depth of flavor. The pommes frites were quite good, albeit (contrary to the waiter's boast) hardly the best in town. The frites come in a big cone with a garlic mayo (underflavored as well). The desserts are from Boule but the star is the cheese bar, with a good selection which (judging by smell and appearance) was carefully and well-chosen. I eagerly await the chance to explore it in depth. The tab, before tax and tip, was $52. including one glass of wine.

Although this was not the outstanding bistro meal hoped for, the place has a lot of potential and there were several other choices on the menu that were appealing. After the staff settles in, I expect/hope the flavors will become earthier and more confident.

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