Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Charming Bistro in Petaluma

One of the delights of blogging is that I can read post of writers from around the world, and they can read mine. Reading about the differences in culture and food traditions and seasonings in other locations encourages me to experiment a bit and do a bit of vicarious dining, too.

On an evening like today's, however, I feel sorry for fellow bloggers who don't live within driving distance of Petaluma, California. I met my fellow blogger, Anna, at a lovely small restaurant just south of the new theatre district in this small town on the Petaluma River in Sonoma County. It is called le Bistro and has been serving dinners to lucky diners for a number of years. It is a bit off the beaten path and seems to be one of those places that the locals like to keep a secret. Here's hoping that a vicarious experience of this little bistro will make it a little easier if you can't come in person.

When I drove up the door was open, inviting you in. There are cafe' curtains on the lower section of the windows along the front in true French style. Once inside you notice the linen topped tables with small candles, the music playing softly in the background, and the open kitchen with the Chef /owner Corey Basso hard at work. The lovely young woman at the front of the house was welcoming and attentive.

I started with the special soup of the day, Red Pepper Tomato with Pesto. It came in a simple white flat soup bowl, a lovely golden red with a swirl of pesto. All of the subsequent dishes were beautifully presented, too. The soup had a wonderful depth of flavor, a hint of texture from the red peppers, and the basil in the pesto enhanced the tomato flavor.

Anna had a salad of fresh and lively mixed mesclun, a generous amount of gorgonzola, toasted pecans and the perfect amount of dressing just coating the leaves. While the starters were being prepared, we managed to polish off a basket of good French bread and some butter.

There were a number of interesting entrees to choose from. The special of the day, Alaskan halibut with a dijon mustard crust and buerre blanc was appealing, and they had two different chicken dishes, but I decided that the tenderloin of lamb with red wine and rosemary had even more appeal. Anna decided on the tenderloin of pork.

They both came with roasted potato rounds and an assortment of vegetables. Often such an assortment will be cooked together and taste of the same sauce. Not so with these. The asparagus spears were grilled, the carrots were thinly sliced and seemed to be poached in a salty broth, and the tender young green beans were perfectly cooked with a haunting herbal note that may have been tarragon, but it was very subtle.

Unlike some fancy (and more expensive) restaurants that serve exquisite food, but in tiny portions, the portions here are generous. The lamb slices covered half the plate, were accompanied by an excellent sauce, and were tender and delicious.

The potatoes came in a cute stack, browned and crusty on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. Everything was seasoned to perfection. Anna said that her pork was equally delicious. For her review go here. If it's not up yet, try a little later. She has a lot of reading to do tonight for school.

We could easily have stopped there, but when all the other food was so good, dessert seemed like a good idea, and it was.

Anna had the Brandy Cherry Parfait, with rich ice cream, brandied cherries, fresh strawberries and kiwi fruit, and freshly whipped cream. Some crisp cookies added a nice crunch.

I had a Kahlua Gelato Torte with Chocolate Sauce. It was a very warm evening and it proved to be a challenge for the kitchen to keep the torte from melting, but it arrived with a fudge and nut topping, chocolate fudge swirl under the slice of torte, scoops of whipped cream and even some strawberries and kiwi garnish. The torte had a distinct coffee flavor and was very rich. It went well with the excellent coffee we had with dessert. The perfect ending to a fine meal.

So if you do live within driving distance of Petaluma, consider coming to Le Bistro for dinner. You'll be glad you did. But let's keep it a secret, O.K? With only ten tables, I don't want it to become too popular since I'm likely to be back soon.

le Bistro
312 Petaluma Blvd. South
Petaluma, Ca 94952
credit cards accepted


  1. Anonymous3:50 PM

    So did that darling bistro provide wheel service to your car after that amazing meal? The presentation on the pork was beautiful, the salad looks like something I'd like to put together, and the dessert...well...I still have half of mine in the fridge left over from last night that I'm trying to avoid.

    How far is Petaluma from San Diego! :-)

  2. Kellypea, Petaluma is about an hour north of San Francisco. Come visit some time and we can go to le Bistro together. Fortunately, my car was parked at the curb right outside the door. It was a lot more than I usually eat, but amazing indeed.

  3. Mmmm....a Kahlua gelato torte...sign me up!!!

  4. My husband and I have lived in Petaluma for 3 years, less than a mile from this restaurant. I read your blog yesterday and immediately made a reservation. We went last night and it is our new favorite restaurant in town! Thanks for the glowing recommendation.

  5. Peabody, true, that was probably the best part of the meal :)

    Girl, Glad you found it good. That's the main reason to blog someplace like this...we find new places to enjoy eating.

  6. wow, the gelato you had looks pretty amazing !!