by Valerie Schroth
Apr 9, 2013
01:09 PMTable Hopping
French Treat on the Saugatuck (or, Garde au Chien!)
I thought I’d died and gone to . . . Paris, but no, I was seated by a window watching gulls soar and swoop over the Saugatuck at Westport’s newest eatery, Rive Bistro. It’s a wonderful spot, right smack on the river, which I liked so much I was back for lunch after having dinner here the night before.
Chef Eric Sierra’s menu is typical French bistro fare but not slavishly so. There’s croque-monsieur, escargot, salade Niçoise and steak frites, but you can also get a Wagyu burger and a delicious looking lobster roll. For lunch, my husband and I began with a couple of cheese plates, shared a lovely frisée aux lardons salad (with excellent bacon and a poached egg), and also split a delectable grilled marinated portobello sandwich with Brie, roasted red pepper, tomato and fresh basil pistou. The night before we had moules frites Provencale, an amazing crab cake with curry remoulade and roasted lamb loin. The food was pretty much perfect, as was the view. The service needs little work.
Prices are pretty reasonable, too. With a few exceptions, salads and sandwiches are $11-$15. Even the filet mignon sandwich, with sautéed onions, Swiss and Dijon mustard—at $17—costs less than my favorite sushi roll at Tengda. Wine-by-the-glass prices are crazy-high, but not any worse than most places I know—how have we come to accept the concept of paying more for a glass of wine in a restaurant than you’d pay for a whole bottle retail?—but the list was well-chosen. We loved our Sancerre and Côte du Rhone.
Our lunch was made all the more authentic by the actual French family who came in at the same time we did. Nestled in the wife’s arms was an adorable little lap dog. This caused some consternation among the staff, but the couple clearly could not understand why their beloved pet could not accompany them to lunch (the French take their dogs everywhere), and politely ignored their waiter’s admonitions. Reinforcements soon arrived with the same message, and more discussion ensued, but we couldn’t help noticing that in the end le chien stayed. (BTW the family later drove off in a red Ferrari, not that common a sight even in Westport.)
The dog’s presence certainly didn’t bother me. And the family could be forgiven for thinking it’s a dog’s world at Rive Bistro: The restaurant's mascot, emblazoned on their website, menus, etc., is a a French bull dog.
Dogs or no dogs, we can’t wait to go back to Rive Bistro. Next time we’ll sit on the outdoor terrace under a blue-and-white striped awning. Perhaps we'll see you there!
Rive Bistro, 299 Riverside Ave., Westport, 203/557-8049, rivebistro.com.French Treat on the Saugatuck (or, Garde au Chien!)