Salem Food Digest - Bistro 118 - Une Novelle Aventure Alimentaire Salem

Lappin Park Gets A French Accent - Industry Nights Begin Monday

By The BaldOne

New life is being breathed into the front corner space at Lappin Park. Years ago this space stood empty, long abandoned after the great Gerber’s Restaurant fire that bequeathed us the corner that became Lappin Park.

Bistro 118 has decided to bring a little Julia Child type cooking into the Salem dining scene. Butter and cream are not evil in this kitchen. They are key ingredients in the goal of bringing a little Parisian decadence to your dining experience.

We were treated to a 16-course tasting the other day in order to showcase for you what it is that they offer. This was as difficult and harrowing an experience as a food journalist can endure. We certainly hope that you fully appreciate the sacrifice that was made to bring this column to you.

We began with Marinated Spanish White Anchovies in olive oil, garlic, and lemon. These little fish are pickled and no attempt is made to hide that fact. A little pucker factor is affected and that is it should be.

Next was a Chicken Liver Mousse with smoked whole grain mustard and  teeny pickles served with a thin and crispy crostini. The touch of Hennessy Cognac used in the preparation may be what puts this dish over the top.

The Fried Shishito Peppers with bonito flakes and sea salt came out a very vivid green. They are very soft and salty with a mild spiciness, except for the one in ten that may have a little more bite.

When we saw the Cauliflower a La Plancha what stood out was the variety of colors such as yellow, green, and purple. Sweetened by apple, made interesting by pine nuts, and accented by fried garlic we enjoyed this dish very much.

What can be said about a Duck Taco that has not already been said. Duck has made quite a comeback in the food world. Made in a soft tortilla with a hoisin slaw and a cilantro lime crema to compliment large pieces of moist duck, these will probably be quite popular with the late night crowd.

In a country dominated by hundreds of local and ethnic meatball recipes, Bistro 118 has stepped up with a Pork Meatball in sauce and Asiago cheese with celery, carrot, onion, parsley, and a small amount of red pepper flakes. As much as we liked everything else these meatballs really stood out.

The Heirloom Tomato Salad with vivid red, green, and yellow colors looked great and was very fresh. The pea puree made for an attractive presentation and added a little sweetness to the plate.

The Calamari came with sweet peppers, parsley, on a squid ink aioli. You get the rings and the tentacles which makes for a better presentation and experience than just the rings alone.

An Oyster Po’Boy featuring thickly cut pickled red onions, ramen aioli, and mustard greens looked inviting as it came out of the kitchen. Three tasty fried oysters sat on the bread. They were hot, not greasy at all, and fat enough to satisfy.

As the Soy Garlic Marinated Tofu appeared we at first though it was fish. The browning fooled us from a distance. With very thinly sliced radishes, scallions, and lime there was a nice variety of flavor to go around.

Green Tea Escabeche Oysters, I need not say more. Try them. Challenge yourself and order the Pork Belly with kimchi and sweet Cointreau carrot puree at the same time.

The Roasted Beet Salad with red and yellow beets, herbed goat cheese, candied walnuts, mustard greens, and thyme vinaigrette and the Side Grilled Asparagus with siracha butter came out at the right time , just after the oysters and the tofu.

Desert was nor forgotten. Somehow there was room for the Olive Oil Cake with orange butter cream and macerated strawberries and a a lovely Flan.

The standout in a very tasty night was the Seared Scallops on a sweet potato puree with piquillo pepper relish, and mustard greens. The scallops were big, juicy, and seared perfectly.

We declare Bisto 118, to be without a doubt The Best French Restaurant with and Industry Night  In Lappin Park.

Try them out and let us know what you think. We are dying to find out whether or not we know what we are talking about.


Bistro 118

118 washington Street

Salem MA