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Le Bistro Celebrating continental spirit for twenty years


Last updated 12/22/2006 at Noon

Once upon a time there was a chef named Robert Penkava who decided to use his European-bred culinary skills in the Village of Fallbrook. Twenty years later he is still serving flavorful works of culinary art in Le Bistro, an intimate restaurant with an air of sophistication. In the evening the path to Le Bistro is flanked by twinkling white lights as one travels through Jackson Square to the upstairs establishment.

The ambiance takes on a classical flair with soothing music, a collection of antiques and the crackles of a 350-year-old oil painting. The oil is a replica of Rembrandt van Rijn’s “Nightwatch” that Chef Robert discovered in an antique store. An art appraiser’s verdict was that the canvas was probably painted by a protégé of the Dutch master, who lived from 1606 to 1669.

An enclosed sun porch makes for a curious room as patrons may sit outside the window and look through multi-paned windows and French doors to the glow of lamps in the main dining salon.

Although the fare is heavy with tradition, there are always some surprises that might not be found on a corner café in Paris or a bistro in Milan – surprises such as a succulent shrimp cocktail. These are no ordinary shrimp – their size and flavor exude vitality. These monumental crustaceans are from México and are fresh frozen there and only thawed and cooked after ordered. The shrimp are plunged in ice to be cooled before serving. The ritual takes at least ten minutes, but the end result is a tender and flavorful dish. Other appetizer dishes include “Hot Artichoke Hearts” and “Garlic Escargot.”

The entrée menu is replete with European-inspired fare bearing convoluted but descriptive names such as “Cherry Duck Breast with Grand Marnier and Triple Sec Sauce” and “Pork Normandy with Apples, Brandy and Crème Sauce.”

I chose “Champagne Salmon with Artichoke Hearts, Shallots and Champagne Crème Sauce.” The delicate filet of salmon is lavishly drenched with the crème sauce and topped with artichoke hearts. Sides of broccoli and carrots and a choice of garlic potatoes or fettuccini alfredo complement the meal. The delightfully delicious carrots are sautéed in sugar and clarified butter, then sprinkled with thyme.

Le Bistro is a window to a world where the cuisine is served with a continental spirit suggestive of a mélange of European cafés.

Le Bistro

119 North Main


(760) 723-3559

(Please call for hours)


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