Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bistro Niko : Atlanta

It was really looking like the fiancé and I were going to have to settle for pizza and beer.  We had made a last minute decision to try to take advantage of the Buckhead restaurant week on a Saturday night and needless to say places were bustling.

We first attempted to find seats at the bar at Aria, only to find a rather snooty atmosphere and on 4 seats at the bar, all taken of course.  What we found absolutely daft was the parking for Aria, which was valet in front of an (old?) motel.   The longest walk from a parking spot to the restaurant was max 1 minute.  TF?

In any case, we then called to Craft Bar, which had no openings and then to Bistro Niko, which said they had a late 9:30 pm opening.  Stomachs growling and mentally kicking ourselves in the butt for not planning ahead, we wandered around the Container store for a bit, before checking in early at Bistro Niko at 8:45 pm to see if they had any openings.  If they didn't, screw it, we were hitting up the pizza shop 1 block down.

Obviously, they did or else I wouldn't be showing this plate with a cock rooster on it, now would I?

Despite somewhat in the mood for wine, I can't seem to resist Belgian beers.  It wasn't bad, although I still look back on the first Belgian beer I had, Koningshoeven Dubbel at Monk's, with some fondness.

Despite our night not going smoothly, the place was bustling in a good way, reminding me how much I missed living in the city.  Also, our waiter was absolutely fantastic, enthusiastic in an truly authentic manner and unfailingly appearing at exactly the right moment to refill water and beer.  (there appeared to be a pretty high server to diner ratio, which if our waiter's server was indicative, I suspect results in much more responsive service.)

Finally, the food was solid in a very homey and comforting way.

Rabbit ravioli - Home-made ravioli, but what really made the appetizer was the broth that it came in, with the fresh flakes of parsley. Made for a rich, yet light and refreshing flavor.

Croquet Monsieur au Saumon - Essentially, grilled cheese with salmon.  Buttery and salty. Light bread, very spreadable/melted cheese (gruyere?). Sure the crust was cut off, it had salmon instead of say tomato slices, but this was comfort food.

Coq au vin - Depending on the sauce, this can be a heavy dish, but a nice wine selection, that had a lighter, slightly fruity tones. Parts of the chicken with skin were nice and juicy. A minor complaint was that parts of the breast were slightly overdone, but the rest: potatoes, shallots, tiny mushrooms also added some bounce to the dish. Perhaps a bit on the big size.

Canard roti - I liked this, the duck nice and tender with healthy chunks of duck skin/fat. The sauce was nice, perhaps a jus with some red wine reduction. On a bed of lettuce slivers that did well to soak up some of the sauce.

Pot du creme - A couple of chocolate dipped madeleines, which were ok, but which went well with the pot du creme, which was like my fiancé's ideal dessert.  She likes creamy things and she likes butter and the pot du creme was like a rich creamy vanilla ice cream flavor in the texture of room-temperature butter. Nice.

Baba Rhum - A big light donut without the donut hole missing, soaked in rum, topped with a heavier whipped cream, in a orange marmalade-like sauce. Overall, surprisingly light and a nice combination of flavors. My only complaint would be that parts of the donut tasted like the alcohol in the rum hadn't been burnt/evaporated, so it was pretty heavy on the alcohol.

I don't think this would spring immediately to mind if I was trying to choose a place for friends and family to try, but certainly if I lived closer or was just looking for a decent chill-out place with friends, I wouldn't mind going here again.

Bistro Niko
3344 Peachtree Road Northeast Atlanta, GA 30326-4801 (Map)
(404) 261-6456

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