I had heard that they had taken over Kensington Bistro for both the day and evening so decided to swing by for lunch a few days ago. I gotta say, I was very impressed by the upgrade in the level of service as well as the food. Though my only prior experience was for brunch at Kensington Bistro, it definitely seemed to me that the service and professionalism was stepped up in Cal-French Bistro fashion.
White cloth table tops and some nice paintings by a local artist? seemed to add to the decor when I walked in. I was one of the first lunch time diners for the day and promptly seated by the window but the place steadily filled up as the hour passed.
I was offered regular or sparkling water as I was given the menu. The lunch menu which also had the brunch menu on the other side seemed relatively short, but with some interesting apps and entrees ranging from $8-25. They seemed to be proud of their house made chicken pate so I had to give it a try, but being the glutton I am, I ordered the small Charcuterie plate - chicken liver pâté with jambon de Paris & Fra’Mani salame served with dijon mustard, tiny pickles and pickled pearl onions and toasted levain. I liked this starter a lot. The pate was very good, not over peppered, pretty smooth too, but it must've just came out of the fridge cause it was very firm and initially hard to spread on the toast. The ham was decent but not extraordinary. The salame was your standard hard salame, slightly thicker than usual slices, which I ended up preferring, not too salty or spicy, just went well with the pate and pickled items. I am somewhat embarrassed if anyone was watching me as I stacked the toast, the pate, the salame and swipe of mustard and then an onion pearl and then stuffed it into my mouth. Mmmmm.
I ended up ordering the Croque monsieur (grilled sandwich of pain de mie, jambon de Paris & Gruyère) which came out crispy and just enough gruyere to cover it but not drown it. A good rendition.
And I finished up with a strawberry and rhubarb compote with whipped ginger creme fraiche. Well executed, but I thought the ginger flavor was over powering in this case and detracted from the fresh flavors of the fruit. I think it may have gone better with a cinnamon flavored creme.
All in all, it was a very good meal on a beautiful day. The service was spot on and everyone was very pleasant. It was a bit more than my usual lunch, but that was to be expected considering what and how much I ordered. I definitely want to come back and try out their brunch and dinner menus.
1568 Oakview Avenue, Kensington, CA 94706