Tablehopping: New decor, menu tweaks reinvigorate bistro
Rack of lamb
Updated: April 7, 2011 1:10PM
After more than $100,000 in renovations, the Barrington Country Bistro has a fresh new look and menu.
"We wanted to send a message that we are here to stay," said Jean-Pierre Leroux who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Denise, who orchestrated the new decor. "You spend 16 years in the same place, you tend to become complacent so we spent over $100,000 on renovation and finished last August."
The two spacious dining rooms seat up to 145 guests in tables that are tastefully spaced for private conversation, Leroux said. On weekends, his tables fill up quickly, so reservations are recommended.
"The decor is current, very warm and as you enter the bar, it is very inviting," said Leroux, a native of Meaux, a province 30 miles northeast of Paris, France, where bistro dining is prevalent. "The room is spacious, even when we have a full house, tables are not cramped next to each other."
Building on the new ambiance, Leroux has also enhanced his menu offerings, with such specialties as risottos, homemade raviolis, fresh seafood such as halibut and wild caught salmon plus veal and pork chops and of course, Bouillabaisse, the traditional French fish stew and specialty of the house.
"Our menu changes constantly," he said, "presenting balance of a French bistro and contemporary Italian dining coupled with a contemporary flair. We feature artisan cheeses and chocolates, seared foie gras, braised lamb shank, veal, roasted duck, Osso bucco, boneless beef short ribs, calf's liver to free-range chicken."
Leroux even partners with a local Barrington Hills farmer, Peter Grube, for fresh vegetables and lettuces in the warmer months of the year.
For dessert, Barrington Country Bistro serves a crÃ¨me brulee, a trio of sorbets to a grand marnier or hazelnut-frangelico souffle.
The wine list is extensive, gaining recognition and awards from even Wine Spectator last year, with more than 30 wines by the glass and a selection comprised of both domestic and imports mostly from France.
"We love wine," said Leroux. "Whenever we can find a wine with good value that will fit and complement our food, we buy it. The idea is to have the selection and we want to let them experience different types of wines."
Guests can do that affordably at $8-$11 per glass and bottles running $28-$80, many in the $40 range. Leroux said the average tab for lunch at his bistro is $19, and $50 for dinner, including wine.
"What distinguishes us is our staff has been here for years," said Leroux who has spent 40 years in the restaurant/hotel business, with stints at Le Francais to the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons. "We love what we're doing. We care about our customers and we constantly try to find ways to improve ourselves."
Barrington Country Bistro
The Foundry, 718 W. Northwest Highway, Barrington. Open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and open for dinner Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Information, (847) 842-1300 or barringtonbistro.com.
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