by Julia Thiel
Modeled after a Paris bistro, Bistro Dre is warm and charming, with decor that's probably best described as eclectic: chandeliers decorated with ribbons and dried flowers, one wall covered with ornate mirrors, another wall a chalkboard adorned with empty picture frames. The decorations, though, are the least puzzling part of the place. Other mysteries: Why would a restaurant in this day and age not have a website? Why are the menus confusingly laid out and divided into categories including "vegetables/salads/pastas/flatbreads" (Belgian fries, "beet tartar," grilled French beans, mac 'n' cheese, spinach salad, and two flatbreads), "pork/chicken" (chicken and waffles, bacon-wrapped smoked pork tenderloin, grilled hanger steak, lamb T-bones), and "seafood" (fish & chips)?
And why, when the menu advertises that everything is served "shared plate style," were we not brought any plates?
Each of the elements of the grilled French beans with blue cheese grits and lemon-pepper croutons was fine on its own, but they didn't combine into any coherent whole. The blue cheese overwhelmed the subtle flavor of the green beans, and topping grits with croutons was just odd. It's especially funny that the restaurant added unnecessary croutons to this dish when they were so stingy with them on the cheese fondue—served with six grapes, six apple cubes, and seven large croutons. The cheese was good, however, and the waitress did bring additional bread without being asked.
Unfortunately, not asking is not always a good thing. The kitchen ran out of the eggplant necessary to make the flatbread with grilled eggplant, caramelized onion, roasted garlic, spinach, and goat cheese that we'd ordered, so substituted green pepper—with entirely unappealing results. (We weren't charged for the dish, but we did end up with a lot of food we didn't want that had to be thrown away.) The bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin did arrive as ordered—accompanied by undercooked broccoli, grilled carrot strips, and nicely garlicky mashed potatoes—but also went mostly uneaten because under the bacon, the pork was bone-dry.
Dessert—a dense, fudgy brownie served hot with white-chocolate-peppermint ice cream—was one of the few high points of meal. And with it, we finally got plates for sharing.
Bistro Dre, 2965 N. Lincoln, 773-697-9067