Seattle’s love affair with French bistros proves to be more than a passing fling. French cuisine, long considered the epicenter of the epicurean world, emerges as an enduring courtesan in the Emerald City, one that tempts even the most jaded of palates. Today, Seattle Grande dames like Maximilien Restaurant, Place Pigalle, Cafe Campagne, Loulay, and Le Pichet share the stage with a burgeoning bistro scene. Here, FoodableTV sneaks a peek behind the curtain of some of Seattle’s sexiest French bistros for secrets to their seductive powers.
Le Caviste | Seattle
Le Caviste allures with a quintessential Parisian coquette’s trill, captivating all who fall under her spell. Quaint chalkboard menus list daily specials and wines by the glass, served up with inimitable French bonhomie on charming butcher-papered tables under discrete lighting in a cozy corner of downtown Seattle.
Owner David Butler’s generous plats du jour like The Fishmonger’s Wife groan with locally sourced bread, eggs and mushrooms, charcuterie, artisan cheese, imported fish and olives. Le Caviste’s bespoke wine list presents affordable, everyday regional wines by the glass or bottle, plus a hidden gem or two of premier crus tucked in among the carte des vins. Whenever possible, wines sourced reflect organic and sustainable vineyard practices. And a sweet little retail section also beckons with tasty to-go tipples.
Voila! Bistrot | Madison Valley
Like Schehezerade, Voila! Bistrot unveils herself slowly, beguiling guests with an understated elegance -- muted tones, intimate seating, soft lighting. Lulled by her winsome ways, long-time Madison Valley locals religiously fill Voila!‘s banquets.
A neighborhood fixture since 2004, Chef Laurent Gabrel’s Voila! Bistrot unfurls flawlessly executed traditional fare, including pâté, moules à la provençale, boeuf bourguignon, and café liégéois. The wine list proffers a range of pours and price points, from Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire, Languedoc, Provence, and Rhône, along with a few favorite local vintners.
Le Grand Bistro Américain | Kirkland
Winner of 425 Magazine’s ‘Best French Restaurant 2015’ Award, Le Grand Bistro Américain in Kirkland extends east-siders an authentic Francophile experience fit for the most fastidious of gourmands. Anchored on stunning Carillon Point overlooking Lake Washington, Le Grand Bistro Américain flirts shamelessly from the get-go, decked out with a burnished brass railed bar, old-world tiled floors and wood paneling, not to mention ample outdoor seating.
Patron/plongeur Ted Furst and his team bejewel this bistro beauty with a ravishing array of charcuterie, fromages, petits plats, raw bar, and house favorites like Salade Niçoise, Daube Provençal, and Steak Frites. The whimsical wine list, organized by variety, sparkles with a vivacious selection of bottled bijoux, including a robust array of Old World bubbles and White Burgundies, in addition to New World blends and single varietals. An irresistible happy hour menu includes wines by the glass and pitcher, as well as inventive cocktails concocted to quench the querulous.
FIVE Restaurant & Bistro | Edmonds
Don’t let appearances deceive. Despite the innocuous strip mall site along the Kingston Ferry commuter route, Edmond’s FIVE Restaurant & Bistro envelops guests in a warm embrace immediately upon entering this inspired eatery. Subdued lighting, country-chic decor, and comfortable patio seating set the stage for this family, date-night and cook’s-night-off appropriate boutique bistro. Upbeat waitstaff offer up brunch favorites like Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame, dinner favorites like Mussels/Clams in Dijon Tarragon Sauce, and rotating specials like Oyster on the Half Shell. Quirky, inexpensive import and domestic wines, craft beverages, and spirits flights add a bit of light-hearted frippery to this already stylish venue.
In the final analysis, nothing about Seattle’s mélange of French bistros gets lost in translation, each rendering a unique interpretation of la cuisine française, all inspired by her most enticing muse -- The City of Lights. Bon Appétit!