New Takes on French Classics at Burlington's Bistro de Margot | 7 Nights Spotlight | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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New Takes on French Classics at Burlington’s Bistro de Margot 

Published April 19, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated June 5, 2018 at 9:36 a.m.

click to enlarge BRENT HARREWYN
  • Brent Harrewyn

The restaurant as we know it was invented in France, and, for a long time, going out to dinner in America meant eating French food. Even when more varied spots later sprung up, visiting a fancy restaurant still meant ordering aubergines grillées instead of grilled eggplant. Some places went so far as to rebrand the Caesar salad — invented in Mexico by an Italian — as salade César.

click to enlarge Hervé Mahé - BRENT HARREWYN
  • Brent Harrewyn
  • Hervé Mahé

But the pendulum has swung the other way. As casual restaurants, with their laminated menus and heaping portions, became the 'Merican norm, white linen and impeccably dressed servers began to read as snobby. And, with the welcome rise of other world cuisines in U.S. cities, Continental dining lost its primacy.

Nowadays a true French restaurant is hard to find, but Burlington has an utterly charming one in Bistro de Margot. Here, chef Hervé Mahé prepares finely crafted classic dishes, such as snails drowning in parsley-and-garlic butter, and superbly seasoned country-style pâté with cornichons and mustard.

Yet Burgundy-born Mahé also lets Vermont ingredients and a hint of global flavor inform the fare. One fall menu, for instance, offered leek soup with fried shiitake mushrooms and ginger salt. Summertime featured pearly, plump scallops served over tomatoey polenta cakes with asparagus and Spanish chorizo.

Location Details Bistro de Margot
126 College St.
Burlington, VT

Playful perfection is the marker of Bistro de Margot's menu, and the luscious desserts are no exception. Lemon curd arrived in a jar and was topped with strips of gooey candied lemon peel and dots of meringue, torched to a deep brown. It was both fun to behold and swoon-inducing to eat.

click to enlarge BRENT HARREWYN
  • Brent Harrewyn

The relaxed elegance extends to the service. Diners who compliment the sumptuous sauces may find a grinning server encouraging them to lick their plates. And while not all chefs make a point of visiting with customers in the dining room, Mahé stops by every table with a ready laugh and stories to tell.

The chef's ability to blend the best of French technique with the casual flavor of Vermont dining makes Bistro de Margot one of Burlington's best restaurants du jour.

This article was originally published in 7 Nights: The Seven Days Guide to Vermont Restaurants & Bars in April 2017.

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose, butcher a pig, make ramen from scratch, and cook a scallop perfectly.


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