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Restaurants & Bars 1

Retro Bistro-Mt. Prospect

tony | Nov 9, 200304:43 PM

Dinner started out well with a warm crusty baguette, a plate with a healthy slab of butter and a dish of tapenade-like spread. Rather than a full-on, mostly olive, briny tapenade, this condiment was mellowed with either some lentils or chickpeas and then pureed to make it easily spreadable. Nice touch. The room itself is comfortable with a small bar to the right of the entrance and then you have the main room off to the left; traditional black and white checked floor and decidedly American photos and prints of faded Hollywood stars of the thirties and forties. In the true sense of the French bistro it’s a neighborhood place attracting all types and all manners of dress from jeans and windbreakers to jackets and dresses.

We ended up choosing the 3 course prix-fixe menu for $29.50, which turned out to be a decent value. Our waiter was polished, friendly and informative about the evening’s choices without being condescending in the least. The wife started out with a warm smoked salmon tart covered by capers, lentils and red onions. Finished with a dollop of crème fraiche and surrounded oddly enough, by what seemed to be a thin layer of a veal demi-glace sauce, this appetizer was well balanced and satisfying. I chose the beef carpaccio roll filled with arugula and celery root served with wasabi mayo, fresh grated horseradish and soy for dipping. Italian-Asian-French fusion maybe, but whatever they were going for it worked well. Peppery, salty and sort of crunchy, there were four decent sized pieces but nothing that would fill you up. Two of the pieces were squirted with the truffle puree advertised on the menu for this dish, but didn’t really taste like truffles, nor did it take away form the dish. Someone wanted to use a squeeze bottle apparently, but now I’m just nitpicking.

For entrees the wife chose roasted half a duck with a peach and red wine reduction sauce along with wild rice and pieces of purple, sweet, and white potatoes. Perfectly cooked duck with crispy skin, fat rendered away and juicy meat. Wild rice accompanied well and the sauce for the duck was just sweet enough without being cloying. Hearty autumn food. I went with the “Plat du Jour” or La Potee Auvergnate, which was a large bowl filled with braised chicken, brisket, lamb shank and sausage served with sides of Dijon mustard and harissa. The sausage was supposed to be Merguez but was substituted with what tasted like a large German frankfurter. It was definitely not the traditional lamb sausage, but still worked well with the dish. This was all sitting in a rich broth along with carrots, potatoes, white beans and cabbage. Each piece of meat was tender without being mushy and well complimented by both the mustard and harissa.

For dessert the wife had a caramelized apple round tart type of thing topped with house-made rum raisin ice cream. Its sides were covered with crunchy little strips of phyllo for a nice texture contrast. I’ve yet to meet an apple related dessert I didn’t like and this was no exception. I opted for a pear and date tart accompanied on one side by a rich sabayon and on the other by crème anglaise swirled with the ubiquitous raspberry sauce. An excellent dessert in it’s own right.

We liked this place a lot both for the service and the value and were taken by people who have been coming here for about a dozen years. It was impressive to see how quickly the news traveled from the kitchen to the floor manager and then to the various waiters and food runners when certain dishes ran out for the evening. Between the time that the wife ordered the second to last duck entrée to when I requested a copy of the specials menu for the night before leaving, they had already edited and printed a new one replacing the duck with a roasted monkfish in a Pernod olive sauce. This was fairly impressive for a small bistro flying under the radar in a northwest suburban strip mall. Just about every diner has had the annoying experince of ordering something, looking forward to it, and then being told ten minutes later, sorry chump, all gone.

The rest of the menu has traditional bistro fair with a few twists and turns and the last but not least the wine selections are really interesting and almost all of the bottles are in the 20-29 dollar range. This place is less than a five minute drive from Tenuske(sp?) Market, Jarosch Bakery, Mitsuwa Market and the new outpost of Johnny’s. Enjoy.

Retro Bistro
1746 W Golf Rd, Mount Prospect, IL
Phone: (847) 439-2424

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