Many serious diners will first peruse the wine list and then design their meal around a particular bottle of wine. At Les Baux, I design my lunch around the bread, seeking menu items that will go with their fabulous baguettes. Onion Soup ($8), check. Escargot ($11)? Perfect. Prepared Provencal style, in a simple garlic butter sauce with a hint of anise scented Pernod. You will need the bread, or course, to sop up the sauce. The snails are pretty good too. A frequent selection is the L’aisette de Charcuterie ($13). This will work, but we’ll need more bread by now, to top with the slices of saucisson sec (traditional dried french sausage), pate de champagne slices, and cornichons, with just a dollop of Dijon mustard. What’s better than that? Wonderful stuff. A selection of sandwiches also put the baguettes to good use – a jambon (air cured ham) – buerre (butter ) et cornichons (for $10) replicates the simple Parisian street fare perfectly, and deliciously.
Cafe Les Baux
152 Church Street
845 677 8166
No list of local bistros would be complete without including Cafe Les Baux, Herve Bochard’s charming Millbrook eatery. A frequent destination for a lunch with Millbrook clients, I enjoy the restaurant’s authentic French bistro fare – Escargot au Pernod, Croque-Monsieur, Saucisson sec Beurre, Salade Nicoise, and the best French Onion soup in Millbrook. (Note that I refrained from “best onion soup in Dutchess County” to avoid the phone call from Claude at lePavillon.)
This place has charming written all over it. It is a small, intimate space, with a dozen tables divided into two rooms, one with a small service bar. Its a popular spot with the locals. I usually feel like I’m the one person in the room that doesn’t know everyone else. The service is consistently efficient and friendly, even if I’m one of the few patrons not a first name basis with the staff.
Start with the onion soup – served gratinee, piping hot and delicious. A basket of sliced baguette – as good as it gets in these parts – will go perfectly with this dish.
Heartier appetites have a selection of traditional bistro entrees to choose from. Steak frites ($28) with hotel butter or green peppercorn sauce is usually prepared with sirloin, but a French “hanger” steak makes frequent appearance as a special. Moules frites ($22) mussels in a white wine butter sauce, served with french fries are a classic bistro staple, and always good here. Another classic is the sole meuniere ($23), prepared with butter, parsley and lemon. The chef will also substitute almondine or caper sauce (grenobloise) if you prefer. If time allows, a bottle of Beaujolais or Macon would go perfectly with any of this fare.
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