Restaurant Files: Grand Experience at Bistro V in Greenwich, Connecticut
For the past 2 years, I had an opportunity to experience many great Connecticut restaurants, often in the group of passionate foodies (also known as bloggers), and to share those experiences with the world. Majority of our visits included food and wine, but I would say that food was always a star. Don’t get me wrong – we had a lot of wonderful cocktails and wines at most of the places we visited, but we had to connect food with wine on our own.
What would make dining experience “Grand”? To me, this is simple – proper pairing of food with the wine completely changes your dining experience. When the wine “works” with the food, the result is greater than the simple sum of two – it is totally different, elevated experience, a true celebration for your taste buds. This is exactly what I experienced at our recent visit to Bistro V & Pâtisserie in Greenwich, Connecticut. Every dish on the menu had its own wine pairing – and most importantly, not just a pairing, but very successful pairing.
Bistro V originally opened in 1980 on the busy Greenwich Avenue strip of shops and restaurants in Greenwich. In 2014, Marc and Evelyne Penvenne (originally from Burgundy, the owners of another successful Greenwich eatery, Méli-Mélo Crêperie & Juice Bar) took over the Bistro V and since then reintroduced it to their customers, maintaining dining experience as French classic as it can be.
We started our evening with the cocktail of Byrrh and Sparkling wine. Byrrh is something I never heard of before. According to Wikipedia, it is “an aromatised wine-based apéritif made of red wine, mistelle, and quinine”. Byrrh was created in 1860s, and it was very popular as an apéritif in Europe and US. It disappeared in US after the Prohibition, and was reintroduced back only in 2012. The cocktail of Byrrh and Monmousseau sparkling wine was excellent, light, refreshing and very easy to drink ( dangerously easy).
While we were enjoying our apéritif, two Hors D’oeuvres showed up, perfectly single bite size – tiny toasts with smoked salmon and similarly sized Paté toasts. Both worked extremely well with our sparkling apéritif.
As we situated at our tables, the bread baskets arrived. It is not for nothing there is a word Pâtisserie in the name of the restaurant. Baking is an indelible part of Bistro V, and while these were not the pastries, which Bistro V is famous for (well deserves a separate post), these rolls were incredible – fresh, yeasty, comforting, crusty, warm and fuzzy feeling-inducing. Nope, can’t describe it – but this bread alone is well worth the restaurant visit.
One fun part of been in a group of bloggers (besides the fact that no dish arriving at the table can be touched until multiple cameras with flash and without would be deployed for the good period of time – and also nobody would scream at you about using the flash) is that you get to see and do things which would be impossible if you just come to eat at the restaurant as a regular customer. For instance, to visit the kitchen. We were given an opportunity to step into the kingdom of the Executive Chef Erik Erlichson and snap a few pictures as the food was ready to be brought out – definitely a fun thing to do.
Our dinner started with Watermelon Salad (Ricotts salata, Candy-pickled rind, pine nuts, baby arugula, lemon vinaigrette). The contrast of sweet watermelon and sharp cheese was perfect, and addition of peppery arugula and pine nuts provided both spicy undertones and the texture. The intended wine pairing was Barone Fini Pino Grigio from Veneto. I have to tell you that inner snob got in the way here, and I expressed my surprise with the Italian Pinot Grigio at the French restaurant to our server – as the result, my pour was very small and I finished it before salad arrived – I think they would work together well, but I was unable to establish that.
Our next dish was Chilled Maine Lobster (Court-Bouillon-poached, hearts of palm, radish, tomato, cilantro emulsion). With this dish, there was a slight inconsistency, which is probably unavoidable when serving tasting portions – the portions which had mostly the claws were excellent, but the other part of the body were rather chewy. But in any case, the dish paired perfectly with 2014 Domaine La Colombe Rosé, Provence, which was excellent, clean, with touch of strawberries and perfect balance.
Next up – the Iron Skillet Grilled Branzino (Shaved fennel in citrus emulsion, orange “oil”) – an outstanding presentation to begin with. Crispy skin and very tasty dish overall, with an excellent balance of flavor. Here we were first introduced to the range of wines from Lebanon. 2012 Ixsir Altitudes White, Lebanon (blend of Muscat, Viognier, Sauvignon, Sémillon) had a touch of white fruit on the nose, spicy balanced palate of white peaches and a hint of spices, overall an outstanding wine. The pairing was excellent, the wine really boosted the flavor of the dish, moving the whole experience to the next level.
Next dish was Crispy Hudson Valley Duck Breast (Salad of confit, snap peas, carrot ginger dressing) – this was simply a perfection on the plate – every component of the dish was excellent by itself and delicious together. The wine pairing was very surprising – Cabernet Sauvignon blend from France (I would rather expect to see a Pinot Noir with duck), but once again, the wine complemented the dish spot on, delivering the next level of hedonistic pleasure. “F” Cabernet Sauvignon by Dave Phinney, France (15% ABV) had nice red fruit, touch of herbs, dark fruit on the palate, mint, touch of earthiness, nice spice and excellent balance, making the high ABV absolutely unnoticeable.
At this point in the dinner my relationship with the server completely restored after the Pinot Grigio fiasco, and I got to taste the wine which was not a part of the wine program for the evening – 2012 Ixsir Altitudes Rosé, Lebanon, a blend of Syrah and Caladoc (a new grape for me!) which was excellent, crisp, with strawberries on the palate and clean acidity, very refreshing.
Question: have you come across a new phenomenon (for me, at least) – a natural mineral water from Bordeaux? I saw one recently at the wine store, and we got to taste one at the restaurant – we had Ô Muse Grand Cru de l’Eau Natural Mineral Water from Bordeaux, both still and sparkling. I wouldn’t claim that I noticed any difference with any other regular or sparkling water, but I still wanted to mention this as we should expect to see those more often.
Let’s get back to food. While all the dishes were outstanding, I still had a favorite of the evening – Versailles Steak Tartar (Filer Mignon pf grass-fed beef, house sauce, traditional condiments, baguette toasts) – my notes only say “wow! wow!” – do I need to say more? This dish was a fiesta of flavor, simply spectacular. If you like Steak tartar, you owe it to yourself to come and experience it at Bistro V. The wine pairing was absolutely spectacular as well. 2010 Ixsir Altitudes Cabernet Blend, Lebanon (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Caladoc, Tempranillo) had the nose of herbs, tobacco, smoke and red fruit. The palate was concentrated, with the nice tannins, dark fruit, firm and well structured – an excellent wine overall.
Our dessert was very simple, but uniquely refreshing and delicious – Chilled Fruit Soup (Cedric’s frozen yogurt). It also paired perfectly with Pineau de Charentes, a fortified wine made from the lightly fermented grape must with addition of neutral Cognac brandy.
At the end of the evening, we had an opportunity to thank Executive Chef Erik Erlichson for the delicious meal and inundate him with questions.
There you have it, my friends – Grand Experience at the Bistro V in Greenwich, Connecticut. If you live in the area or plan to visit, I highly recommend you will make Bistro V a part of your dining plans. Cheers!
339 Greenwich Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06