Best Inexpensive Bistro - 2008
When the Chinese chain P.F. Chang's, a frozen meal delivery service, and a complex computer program all use the word bistro to describe themselves, you know just how far the word has strayed from its origins, on virtually every urban street corner in France. Bistros are supposed to be everyday eateries affordable enough that neighborhood regulars can go every day for a glass of wine and simple but impeccably executed food that is basically — forgive the pickiness — French. At little Côte Gourmet, which opened as a breakfast/lunch spot but now also serves dinner Thursday through Saturday, all the classic bistro basics are there, along with some delightful extras. Breads and pastries are all housemade (and excellent); the bistro's flavorful savory and sweet crêpes ($3.75 to $8.75) taste like a trip to the French countryside for a reason: They're made with nutty buckwheat batter, as they have been in Brittany since the 12th Century. Lunchtime's popular blackboard special (which is different every day but has included crisp phyllo triangles stuffed with tuna, capers, onion, tomato, and buttery potatoes, for $10) is a filling meal thanks to a bonus side salad of mesclun that's dressed as perfectly as a Parisian couturier. At night, entrées such as traditional beef bourguignon ($20.50) or shrimp-topped pan-seared Scottish salmon in delicate lemon sauce, accompanied by three veggies ($17.50), are more pricey, but $25-and-under dinners are doable.