1362 Old Northern Blvd. Roslyn, NY 516-403-4400
With the walls dressed in drab greens and yellows usually associated with the average brasserie found in Paris, here on Long Island the watery colors, thin reddish chairs and pond-side views equal an upscale feel rarely rivaled elsewhere. Yet almost shockingly, the main entrées of steak, pork, chicken and seafood rarely peak over $30—despite the French style, sauces and mayonnaise-based rémoulade that dress many of the plates. Francophile foodies will also rejoice in the appetizers, as Niçoise salad, escargot and steak tartare that lead a menu of classic national tastes—all joined by a selection of sandwiches, hamburgers and pastas, also prepared with ingredients intended to create French flair.
No, we were told unequivocally by the maitre d' at Bistro Citron; we could not sit out on the small deck overlooking the duck pond. "It's going to rain and we've already gotten everybody inside," he said.
Well, not quite everybody. Two women, seated on the deck, seemed to be enjoying a leisurely dinner.
OK, then could we be seated in the dining room by the large windows overlooking the pond?
"Not possible," was his answer. "Every table is taken."
Every table but one, as he learned when he checked more carefully. By then, we had already politely declined a viewless table and were halfway out the door. He called us back inside.
And so we dined within sight of the pond. Once we ordered, I stepped outside on the small balcony. Directly below, a few ducks were swimming. The women at the lone table were finishing dessert. They told me that although a waiter had asked them to go indoors, they simply stayed put, enjoying the quiet of the evening.
Back inside, the cacophony of the dining room became the more apparent. Still, we had an enjoyable meal. Our personable waiter, Antonio, steered us toward a lovely and reasonably priced wine. We chatted awhile, learning that his accent originated in Brazil, not France.
Dinner began with a fine salade aux lardons, the classic frisee, bacon and egg mixture I look forward to at French bistros. A tarte a la tomate featured only a sliver of tomato baked atop a rich, buttery tart filled with a custard of Gruyere and caramelized onion. Garlicky escargots arrived bubbling in an indented crock. They were a treat.
So, too, was a special of scallops flambeed (in the kitchen) with pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur. A friend's roast duck au poivre, another special, was crisp, meaty and just peppery enough. The pepper theme continued with a well-prepared steak au poivre vert (with green peppercorn sauce), rare as ordered and served with creamy scalloped potatoes. A friend's poulet au citron -- lemon marinated chicken breast with cured lemon -- had a nice citrusy flavor. One piece, however, was a bit dry and tasted reheated.
The two women departed the balcony. The rain hadn't come yet. I thought about asking whether we could take dessert at that vacated table, but two waiters whisked it inside.
So we finished, indoors, by sharing a fine version of the ubiquitous warm flourless chocolate cake, plated with vanilla ice cream, as well as classic crepes Suzettes, the delicate folded pancakes soaked with orange liqueur, sprinkled with almonds and, also, topped with vanilla ice cream.
I ventured outside again before leaving. The pond was inky, silent. Not a duck in sight. Not a raindrop, either.