Cassis Bistro is a moderately authentic French bistro in Andover, MA. The room is small and cozy with black and white tiling, mustard coloured walls, and local art (for sale) decorating the room.. It feels fresh and French — a good omen.
We arrived early on a Saturday night with last-minute reservations. We were pleasantly greeted (service was very good throughout the evening) and started with two Kir Royales avec olives and crusty bread while we awaited our apps.
First up was some chicken liver paté with toasts, a little mustard pot (delightful touch), a couple of baby gherkins, and a small salad of frisée with walnuts. The three large squares of paté were actually too generous, and even two of us were not able to finish the plate, but the paté was nice and rich, especially good with the mustard. Mr. Rabbit also had a scallop appetizer with beets, papaya and a salad of greens and nuts. The scallops were reported very good, but Mr. Rab wanted for one more mollusk, feeling that two scallops were a bit parsimonious for the plate.
Moving on to the mains, I opted for the fish special — sea bass with an asparagus mousseline and a potato and leek chip. The fish was perfectly done, tender and moist with a complementary but not overpowering sauce (tomato based, can’t remember exact details). The sides were not unpleasant, but I found them too “fancy” and I would have preferred something more classic and less “clever.” The mousseline had a nice, fresh taste, but it was the kind of thing I tired of quickly and I left quite a lot. The potato chip was also “smart” and quite impressive in presentation (looked rather like a large flatbread), but it didn’t taste that great. I would have preferred a few perfectly cooked speaks of asparagus and a couple of new potatoes. (Note that I do actually like fusion-y food and adventurous kitchens, but I think bistro classics would have been more satisfying in this context). Mr. Rab opted for the duck (a real zag for him — I was shocked), which proved an excellent choice. The meat was smoke-y, almost bacon-y and paired well with a cold mango salad (really good!) and a timbale of rice pilaf. This was a very good plate.
With our mains we put back two glasses of red. The wine list is reasonably priced with some interesting offerings, but the by-the-glass selections are limited to two each of red and white. Both reds were fine — French, as might be expected.
Dessert was a cherry clafouti, and it was a little disappointing. I found the custard a bit too hard and dry-ish. It seemed slightly overcooked and the side of whipped cream tasted slightly artificial, like it came from a spray bottle. Mr. Rab put back a coffee ($6 — eek!) with dessert.
We finished at $175 with tax and tip (3 kir royales, 2 glasses of house wine, 2 apps, 2 entrées, 1 dessert). I think this is a bit too much for bistro, but we’re also definitely going to be back since this there are few places with this much charm north of Boston.
* Note: the prix fixe on Tues/Wed looks like a bargain… two course from a nice list avec a glass of wine for $33— fantastique!