Monday, July 21, 2008

A tale of two sisters

Amongst the office buildings of the high-rent Golden Triangle district, you'll find Vidalia in a basement space, with no windows and an equal amount of personality. While the French/Southern fusion works for some, this establishment just isn't quite able to pull it off. In trying to promote its compromise between the two cuisines, it lacks identity. This rings true in the d├ęcor, service, and most importantly and unimpressively, the cuisine. I could recite a course-by-course analysis of the forgettable and flavorless offerings from Vidalia, but I'd rather devote my words to another location that has truly captured my heart.

On the other side of town, however, in an inviting space in the uber-posh Hotel George lies Bistro Bis, the sometimes overshadowed (at least in the foodie world) sister restaurant of Vidalia. Just a glance at the restaurants' (singular) website reveals that Vidalia is Chef Jeffrey Buben's spotlight destination, while Bistro Bis caters to the political power crowd with French fare. While BB is touted for its elbow-rubbing capabilities (indeed, my last lunch included a little neighborly eavesdropping on a tete-a-tete between the respective chairs of the SEC and FTC), it is the French fare that brings me back. French classics are always mouth-watering here, including the reliable Onion Soup Les Halles, Steak Frites, and Beef Bourguignon. In the raw category, Steak Tartare and Salmon Cru are among my favorites. On a recent visit, I strayed to the Chicken Salade Gourmande, with the temptation of foie gras. While tasty, the confit and foie gras were oversalted and not palate-pleasing. Dessert, however, soon brought me back to a state of mid-day happiness. On this occasion, it was the Chocolate Toffee Bread Pudding that revived my senses. Other options include sorbets and "glaces", which are refreshing, and the crisp and sweet Tarte Normande.

While Buben does not serve as chef, Bistro Bis is where his Fully-Baked Restaurant Group impresses. This sister is the Cinderella in the mix.

No comments: