If you've ever wondered what it's like to eat at a bistro in France – or you'd like to relive the experience – go to Crooked House Bistro. We sat at the tiny bar and were served by the owner, Bernard (who was also the waiter that night), a gracious host and highly talented French man who is truly in his element. When you enter the restaurant, which is just a few tables, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a cozy bistro in the French countryside.
We started with the tomato salad (sliced tomatoes tossed with shallots and lightly dressed with olive oil and vinegar), a house salad (just-picked lettuce lightly dressed with a house-made tangy dressing), the charcuterie plate, and some fresh bread and butter. We split the pan-seared ling cod for our entree, which was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and cooked to perfection.
I highly recommend the berry cake for dessert, which is generous helping of blueberries and blackberries atop a light, flavorful sponge cake accompanied with buttery caramel and a bit of creme fraiche. The fresh-picked berries were plump and juicy, the sponge cake was moist and light, and the caramel was rich and flavorful. It’s not overly sweet and the natural flavors of the fresh ingredients come through. Don't leave without trying this if it's on the menu.
There are some nice local wines by the glass, as well as some tasty French options. If you're not sure what goes best with a particular dish, Bernard offers great suggestions. He takes great pride in his menu, the preparation and the quality, and it shows.
I give this restaurant the highest rating for food, ambiance and overall experience. All the produce is fresh picked and intensely flavorful. Many thanks to Bernard for the best meal of the year; we’ll most definitely be back.
PS: Bernard mentioned he’ll be opening another restaurant in downtown Salem in September, so I’d make a point to try it – there’s no question it’ll be exceptional, too.
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