Westport, New York
I've mentioned in these posts before just how difficult it is to make a living running a restaurant in the Adirondacks. The season – for most locations – is July 4th through Labor Day. Depending upon the market you may see some traffic after Memorial Day weekend, and maybe Columbus Day in the fall, but the bills get paid with the money that's made during the nine or ten weeks between the July 4th and Labor Day weekend. Everything else is gravy. That is the reason we have so many “Mom and Pop” operations here with one partner (typically Pop) in the back running the kitchen, and the spouse (usually Mom) minding the front of the house. Add a few staff to handle the weekend extra traffic, but keep the costs down! The restaurant at the Westport Yacht Club – Le Bistro – is just such a place.
Rosemarie will greet you at the door and make sure that the dining room hums along. Her husband Bernard runs the back of the house. This they do every summer from the second weekend in May when the boats start going in the water, until the second weekend in September when the boats, and the patrons, disappear for the season. What is unique about this couple is that when they close for the winter in Westport, they take the whole show across Lake Champlain to Sugarbush, where they operate Chez Henri during ski season.
You could not ask for a prettier location then the waterfront dining area at Le Bistro. It looks out over the boats in the marina, with a view across Lake Champlain to the mountains of Vermont. If the weather is cooperative there is plenty of outdoor seating, most of it covered, to enjoy the views. Westport is a bit of a ride from the Lake George - Schroon Lake area, but this place is worth the trip, and I'll give you one more reason to make the drive. Combine dinner at Le Bistro with a show at the Depot Theater, which is just what we did yesterday with our neighbors Will and Joan. We took in the afternoon matinee at The Depot, which featured a fabulous production of the “25th Putnam County Spelling Bee.” We laughed till we cried. This venue by the way is one of the best live theater values anywhere, with Actors Equity professional players offering a few shows each season. We try to make a few each year, and have never been disappointed. The theater actually shares space with the Amtrak station, which is a wonderfully efficient use of space, unless your solo coincides with the 3 PM train to Montreal. It does happen, and it always gets a laugh. When we do come up for a show, we always – read always – eat at Le Bistro.
The restaurant has one thing going for it right from the jump, in addition to the location. It's a bistro. We love bistros. The intro at the top of the page says we prefer a cassoulet and a bottle of Beaujolais to just about anything else. It is true. We did actually start with a bottle of Beaujolais last night. The menu is classic, offering traditional bistro staples. Appetizers include Pate de Campagne ($9) served with red chopped red onions mustard and pickles. Mary's favorite is the moules (mussels) served with sauteed shallots in a white wine cream sauce ($11). Last night she passed on that to order a special appetizer of beet salad, served with mescalin greens. Other bistro standards include escargot Provencal ($9.50), an endive and walnut salad ($9) and onion soup ($8). I asked if Bernard would make me an appetizer portion of one of his entree offerings – beef tartare, which is one of the reasons I love bistros. Honestly I thought twice about it last night because of the egg recall, but I figured that raw eggs are just one more thing that you will not read about in my obituary. There are just too many other much more likely candidates. I went for it. The tartare was as always delicious. The basket of crusty french bread was put to good use.
I had to really focus last night and not order my usual roast duckling ($27.50). Instead I tried the rack of lamb ($35), roasted perfectly pink and served with a rosemary infused garlic sauce. A platter of roast loin of beef Bearnaise ($27.50) met with everyone's approval, was served with roasted potato, carrots and haricot verts. Other choices include bouillabaisse ($27.50) a seafood soup made with scallops and shrimp, mussels, squid and seasonal fresh fish. The medallions of veal ($30) sauteed in a wild mushroom cream sauce is also a nice choice. We rarely leave room for desert, but last night dishes of crème broulee and a crème caramel brought the evening to a delightful and delicious close.
Hopefully we get to visit Le Bistro one more time before they shutter for the winter and head to Vermont. Next time I will definitely order the duck.