A cool crab meat and avocado salad. A croque-monsieur served up with a dreamy béchamel sauce. A sinfully cheesy potato gratin. Behold, just a few of the flavors that are in store for you while dining at Le Bilboquet.
When the Buckhead spot opened, I was a little hesitant to try it. Let’s face it, recreating the charm and tastes of a Parisian bistro is as tricky as baking the perfect chocolate soufflé. But when I visited Le Bilboquet for lunch, I found a little piece of Paris tucked away in the Buckhead Atlanta development.
The restaurant’s roots are in New York City’s Upper East Side, where it originally opened in 1986. In 2013, it upgraded to a larger space in Manhattan and opened its Atlanta doors in late 2014.
“Le Bilboquet brings an authentic slice of vibrant Parisian café culture and classic French cooking right into the heart of Atlanta’s bustling Buckhead neighborhood,” says Chef Jean Louis Sangare, a 16-year veteran with the eat spot. “Our unique menu showcases the best of traditional French cuisine, while providing all guests with an elite experience in an approachable environment.”
I have to say that when you step inside, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported across the pond. Think lush blue velvet banquettes, a pewter bar counter and striking paintings and photography by locally and nationally acclaimed artists—and that sense that everyone around you should be murmuring in French and greeting one another with cheek kisses.
But equally as charming is Le Bilboquet’s sidewalk seating. The tables look like they’ve been plucked straight out of a Parisian postcard. So, after scoring an on-street parking spot (if you’d prefer, valet is available, too), my friend Serena and I gladly accepted our al fresco spot.
First up, no French bistro meal is complete without warm, crusty bread and creamy butter. (For me, the bread and butter situation can make or break a meal.) Le Bilboquet’s was spot on. And had we not had to go back to our day jobs post-meal, this would have also been the perfect time to enjoy a glass of rosé or a Blushing Mimosa (what sounded like a yummy combo of orange juice, champagne and creme Yvette).
Our strategy was to order several of the smaller plates to maximize the tastes we could try. We started with Le Carpaccio de Boeuf, a melt-in-your-mouth creation of beef carpaccio topped with a bit of salty, shaved parmesan, pesto and arugula. Then, Serena enjoyed the La Salade d’Endives au Roquefort (endive salad with blue cheese), while I tried Le Tabouleh du Bilbo (the kale and quinoa option). Both were delicious and fresh.
And then there was our “dessert,” a side of the potato gratin. We both agreed that the layers of potato baked with milk, heavy cream, Swiss, and parmesan were worth every calorie that I later burned off at a Cyc Fitness class. (But, if you’re looking for a more classic fix for a sweet tooth, Le Bilboquet also offers options including a decadent chocolate mousse.)
As I licked the last bits of cheesy gratin goodness off of my fork, I was already trying to decide if I’d order the mussels or a croque-monsieur when I returned. Thank goodness for this little bite of France in the heart of Buckhead.
Le Bilboquet is located at 3035 Peachtree Road NE in Buckhead. Lunch is served daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (with Sunday brunch served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Dinner is served Sunday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). For more information, call (404) 869-9944 or visit lebilboquetatlanta.com.