“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The adage holds true for San Marco staple Bistro Aix. After taking a beating from Hurricane Irma, which included four feet of flooding, the French favorite was revamped and remodeled. Now it’s reopened and folks are flocking back for the same delicious food.
You’ll find a brighter space, cleaner lines and lighter colors and furniture. Fear not—the comfy gothic chairs are still there, as is the iconic onyx bar and the bar from where you can watch all the kitchen action.
The “Debut” (appetizer) menu is perfect for tapas. Mussels ($13) drizzled with aioli stacked high in a small bowl, each morsel tender and made all the more delicious by a white-wine-and-shallot-laden sauce. If the skyscraper of toast isn’t enough to soak it all up, be like the cool kids and ask for more. My dining companion said we had to try the Moondancer Oysters (MP $16/half-dozen) from Boston featured in the “Les Fruits De Mar” that night, saying, “They make you feel like you’re drowning in the best way!” She wasn’t wrong; the high salinity content is insane—and crazy good with a classic vinegar mignonette and a lighter cucumber mint mignonette, which we chased with champagne, of course.
Back to the Earth with Steak Tartare ($14). This dish fascinates me. I never look at raw meat and think, “Cut me off a slice!” but steak tartare is beautiful and simple. The fresh, tender meat doesn’t have ton of flavor (or scent), so it’s usually paired with sharper tastes like mustard and anchovies. Add a raw quail egg for a little extra flavor (and hold) and it becomes a classic French dish. I love when a plate has something new to try, so the ravigote caught my eye. This slightly acidic sauce, a French favorite with lots of delicious morsels—like capers, shallots and parsley—chopped up in it, pairs very well with tartare.
On to the entrées, which are filling, but not overly so. The Duck Breast ($31) with wild mushrooms and a veal reduction blew our minds. Heads up: Medium at Bistro Aix is on the pinker side. Diver Scallops ($31) includes three huge, pillowy, butter-tender scallops, impeccably seared, atop creamy Anson Mills grits. The zingy paprika vinaigrette was a little much for this scallop lover, but alone it was a righteous sauce.
If you have room, check out Executive Pastry Chef Michael Bump’s dessert menu. Pistachio Profiteroles ($10) are a crowd favorite but they didn’t quite live up to our expectations. The Choux pastry was a little tough, and the homemade pistachio ice cream was not as flavorful as I’d hoped, though the fudgy chocolate sauce drizzle was rich and delicious. Red Wine Poached Pears ($9) is such a gorgeous dish—I’m on the hunt for a lipstick in the same shade. The brown butter cake was a bit dry, but I could eat it all day long soaked in the sweet red wine sauce.
Bistro Aix, welcome back!
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