Excellent French bistro fare awaits at Café Les Baux
Millbrook restaurant charming experience
By Lori Pierce Abendschein
For the Poughkeepsie Journal
CAFE LES BAUX
Overall **** (Very Good)
152 Church St., Millbrook; 845-677-8166; French bistro fare; closed Tuesday; serving lunch and dinner daily, noon-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. during the week and on Sundays; until 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday; not handicapped accessible; all major credit cards accepted.
Entree price range $7-$23; children can be accommodated.
What ratings mean
very good ****
Café Les Baux is creating quite a stir in the Village of Millbrook. Named for a popular tiny village in the south of France, in the region of Provence, the restaurant has a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere associated with Parisian bistros. Sienna-glazed walls, rustic light fixtures and simple decor warm the interior of this charming spot.
Owner Herve Bochard, classical French-trained chef and former executive sous chef at Tavern on the Green, is the star behind this small gem, which opened in April 2002.
Chef Bochards menu, a composition of salads, sandwiches, classics and main courses or plates, allow for myriad possibilities.
Salad a meal
Forewarned by our server that the salads come as sizeable portions, we opted not to order the Nicoise with fresh tuna ($13), with warmed chevre ($10) or frisee with poached egg and bacon ($9). Vowing to return to Café Les Baux for a lighter meal of salad and perhaps the French classic sandwich croque-monsieur ($8) or a baguette with ham, butter and cornichons ($7) we turned our attention to the list of classical French appetizers.
I couldnt resist the gratinee a loignon ($6), which was every bit as splendid and delicious as I had hoped. A steaming, rich brown broth packed with sweet onions came buried beneath a mound of gruyere so thick, it begged for a knife. Our server had suggested oeuf-dur mayonnaise ($5.50) in place of the salade Nicoise. Disguised as a humble salad of hard boiled eggs, this dish took us completely by surprise. The egg quarters, draped generously with a sublime fresh mayonnaise, provided just the contrast to the marvelous mesclun greens.
The entrees reside in the area of wholesome comfort. Filet of sole can be prepared meuniere, amandine or grenbloise ($18). Grilled chicken ($17) is served up complete with a choice of fries, mashed potatoes and a salad. Such bistro standbys as steak frites ($23) a grilled sirloin with butter maitre dhotel or green peppercorn sauce, french fries and mesclun salad sounded divine. Heavens, even the burger has strong appeal, dressed up to your liking with or without cheese or bacon on house bread with hand-cut, habit-forming fries and leafy mesclun salad ($12).
After pulling at the last strand of cheese from the soup crock and chasing the final bit of mayonnaise with a stray leaf of mesclun, we were ready for our entrees. We ate heartily.
A duck breast ($22) was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, and perfection against a port wine sauce. Its accompaniment of gratin potatoes was creamy and satisfying, right along with a good portion of green beans and mixed vegetables cut into the classic oblique shape. The richly tender slices of pork tenderloin ($19) were just as good. A creamy mustard sauce stood up to the pork and made for a pleasing dish.
Service throughout the evening was attentive overall and pleasant, but it missed details such as removing dirty plates and replacing used silverware with fresh utensils, which can take away from a dining experience.
No dining experience at Café Les Baux should be without dessert. Desserts are worth every calorie. Chef Bochard has mastered the classic tarte Tatin, made famous by the Tatin sisters of early 19th-century Paris, but it receives competition from a list of possibilities, including an indulgent molten chocolate cake.
The Poughkeepsie Journal pays for the meals that are the subjects of restaurant reviews and reviewers do not identify themselves prior to the end of the meal. Lori Pierce Abendschein is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and a member of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs.
August 15, 2004
Bistro in Les Baux
Our first night at Café Les Baux every table was filled and every face was smiling. The reason was simple: the bistro ambiance, the French country menu and the gracious service. With Hervé Bouchard deftly managing the kitchen and his wife, Daphne, making it look easy at the front of the house, its no wonder people are saying Café Les Baux is not to be missed. The crowd and our timing made meeting the chef out of the question. We did, however, have a very nice conversation with Daphne, who offered us glasses of Côte du Rhône. While we had her attention we made reservations for the next night!
The next evening we spoke to Monsieur Bouchard-a very nice and humble man-and he told us of being from Brittany, working most recently at Tavern on the Green in New York, in Paris and in the south of France in Arles. (We thought there were influences from the south on our plates--the name Café Les Baux, for one!) This place is a gem. Before your next trip to Dutchess County book a table here, drive a few miles off the beaten path to Millbrook and get ready to smile.