Bar Blanc Bistro – A Lack of Color
Bar Blanc Bistro is just flat-out uninspired, and that was very upsetting for me. Perhaps I expected too much, but I imagined a laid-back and stylish bistro with impeccable French cuisine – a place that blended uptown chic with downtown cool. Located just a couple blocks from my apartment, I was hoping on finding a new neighborhood spot to satsify my frequent yen for fine food.
Unfortunately, Bar Blanc Bistro was none of the above. It wasn’t terrible – the atmosphere was actually quite lovely and the food was serviceable. But there was no zest, no passion, no interest. The entire experience just blended into a long list of plain-vanilla average restaurants I’ve been collecting over the past couple years.
Everything about Bar Blanc Bistro was ordinary – it had the requisite downtown bistro touches: a chalkboard with the specials, rough-hewn dark wood tables, even a pair of antlers hanging off the wall. The menu was limited, offering fancy-sounding foods that looked fancy and tasted like items at every other ‘bistro’ below 14th St. For appetizers, you have the choice of day boat scallops, warm calamari salad, golden beet salad, baby boston lettuce with hearts of palm, and crispy sweetbread and pork belly salad. Yes, there are an extraordinary number of salads on the menu. Entrees are appropriately seasonal, including summer vegetable risotto, seared black cod, slow roasted chicken and slow roasted pork loin, a burger, duck breast and scottish salmon. Every bit the selection you would imagine from a dressed-up french bistro, no?
What’s so strange about Bar Blanc is its physical simplicity in terms of decor and menu selection and how that contrasts with its over-complicated food. The dishes are basic, but experimental the chef overloads his meals with layers of flavors. For example, the duck breast comes with a corn puree, lentils, and a white wine-thyme glaze (ick?). With the seared black cod, instead of letting the flavor of the fish shine, he clutters the plate with wilted spinach, celery root, fennel, saffron sauce, and salt cod brandade.
These complicated and overwrought dishes speak to the overbearing pretention that Bar Blanc Bistro oozes despite it’s ‘Bistro’ add-on. Its as though this fancy french restaurant, in fear of not cutting it in laidback Greenwich Village, just added the ‘Bistro’ tag to protect itself. The menu, the website, the host, all of the above, are pretentious in reality while preaching ‘simplicity.’
Either way, I wouldn’t recommend this place to many people – however, if you’re just looking for a solid and not-too-pricey spot that has all of the exterior dressings of a fine dining establishment, this is by all means a suitable option.