A recent foray to the West side had us looking for dining options in the area, since we don’t make it out that far very often. Our search led us right into the heart of the French countryside.
Not the actual France, but probably just about the closest thing to it in Cleveland. Owned and operated by Georges and Claudie, a couple of French immigrants, Le Bistro du Beaujolais is a piece of their home country relocated to the Rust Belt, to our enjoyment and good fortune. Located in the heart of Olmsted Falls (adorable town, by the way) in a cute old 1830s home, stepping inside is like walking into a different world.
The dining room is cozy and warm, and lends a very homey feel – it’s a little bigger than your dining room at home, but if you knocked out a wall and put up a tin ceiling, this would be it. There’s room for maybe 30-40 people in the main dining area (with a room elsewhere to accommodate small parties of up to 15 or so) and a nice patio out front, so reservations are a good idea. Georges was out and about the entire time, checking in with each guest a number of times, making recommendations, and even speaking French with the braver souls (I took seven years of Spanish, so I did not attempt anything. Oui.). Everything about it makes you want to stick around for a while, especially when you’ve come in out of the cold.
The menu is heavy on traditional French comfort foods – coq au vin, beef bourguignon – and is offered a la carte or via three levels of a prix fixe menu (which is a great deal).
We dove right into the alliums and started with an onion tart and a classic French onion soup (which we never order, but if you’re going to get a French onion soup, here’s the place to do it). The tart was flaky (I love flaky pastries) and filled with creamy caramelized onions (with a nice side salad that tempered the richness a bit). While I have almost nothing with which to compare it, the soup was what I would expect from a good homestyle French onion. Full of flavor, studded with chunks of bread and gooey cheese, and loaded with onions… I probably will never order a French onion soup again to avoid disappointment.
For our heartier fare, S ordered a dish of pan-seared shrimp and scallops, served alongside buttery noodles, more flaky crusts, pear, and a blue cheese sauce. Neither one of us is much of a blue cheese fan, but in some instances it can complement other flavors without overwhelming, and this was such an instance. Everything was simply prepared, and the way that the pear and cheese played tug of war with the palate set the dish up perfectly.
I tried the duck breast, served with a red fruits sauce, which included cranberry – a very nice tartness to go with the sweet. The duck was expertly cooked, and paired with a marvelous potato gratin. Again, simple fare, and it probably consisted of nothing more than potatoes, butter, cream, garlic, and some salt, but it was one of the best potato gratins I’ve eaten.
And for dessert, a luxurious chocolate mousse and peach clafoutis (the two finalists off a long list of deliciousness). Can’t go wrong with either one of them.
Le Bistro du Beaujolais earns six stars out of seven. Everything about it was fantastic – service was great, prices are reasonable, and the food was all outstanding. It’s small and not as well known as some of the bigger name local brands, but very much worth the trip. C’est magnifique!