Monday, December 14, 2009

Bistro Niko - Atlanta

When I was last in Atlanta, I had the opportunity to have lunch at Buckhead Life’s latest addition, Bistro Niko. I’ve had relatively good experiences with most of the Buckhead Life restaurants, so I had decently high hopes for Bistro Niko. Once inside, you can’t help but notice the bustling kitchen, complete with the dedicated prosciutto slicing station, something that wouldn’t be turned away from my own kitchen. Once in the dining room, it seems like your standard bisto décor. I can’t help but think the walls are painted that slightly tarnished yellow to mimic years of cigarette smoke.

Anyway, I can’t help but start the meal with the escargots “en croùte”

I know it’s a simple touch, but I really love the puff pastry topping, but what caught me off guard was the pernod. Anise is not a flavor I usually associate with escargot, but it’s was a nice combination. Of course, the dish was rich and buttery, and while there weren’t piles of garlic, the flavor was still there.

Once again, I couldn’t pass up trying a charcuterie plate. On that day, it included a country paté, “faux” gras terrine, prosciutto, coppa, sopressata, and a pork rillette.

A problem with a charcuterie plate is you never know where to start, so I randomly picked the sopressata and it was a quality piece with good flavor and spice. Next was the coppa, a good and meaty choice. The prosciutto was just like prosciutto should be, a little salty, buttery and just fantastic.

Moving to the rest of the charcuterie plate, the rabbit liver paté was as it should be: smooth, rich, and very tasty. The pork rillette was like the pate, a quality item, although I spent a lot of time trying to pick out all the flavors. Lastly was the terrine of “faux” gras. While it was a meaty terrine and the pistachios were a nice touch, there was nothing that really set it apart from the rest.

In addition to my entrée, I was able to get a taste of the tarte “flamebée” which included onion, bacon lardons, and fromage blanc.

I think this is the first time I’ve seen a tarte called a “traditional French pizza”, and while the ingredients seemed like a winning combination, the delivery was lacking.

Yes it was creamy but it was just a boring dish even with all the onions and lardons. Sure the lardons were great, but it was just a bland cream covered piece of dough.

Speaking of creamy, I decided to try out a sandwich for lunch, the croque monsieur.

How can you go wrong? It’s ham, cheese, and more cheese. To start the fries, while lightly salted, were nothing exceptional. The sandwich itself was another story. From the first bite, it was rich and gooey. Everything was covered in either butter or cheese.

The lack of ham was a little annoying, but it was nothing worth complaining about. The sandwich was simply too rich and too filing to eat the whole thing, granted that’s not always a bad thing.

I realize that Bistro Niko just recently opened, so I’m sure there were still a few kinks to work out in the system. For one, there was no time to enjoy each course. Before I could even try the rillette from the charcuterie plate, the waiters had my sandwich on the table. More annoying was when I had things packed to go, my waiter disappeared, taking my lunch with him. Luckily there were several nattily dressed managers there who were more than happy to help. All in all, I would say that with Bistro Niko, the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group adds a solid restaurant to their portfolio. Although it will be interesting to see how things have changed the next time I pop in for lunch.

Bistro Niko on Urbanspoon

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