Fauxthenticity unbound, Bar Frites playfully dresses up the Boulevard du Nord.
Situated between Funky Monkey and Sneakerology in the Wheatley Plaza shopping center on Northern Boulevard is this long-anticipated restaging and send-up of bistro and brasserie.
Handsomely antiqued, smoky mirrors announce menus and drinks. Kronenbourg and Stella Artois flow at the bar, where a Taittinger bowl holds wine bottles on ice. Sparkling water: Badoit.
But it's not all Gaul. ESPN is on the TVs, Motown blasts in the background, and Bryant & Cooper's sauce stands ready for your steak frites. A Napanook crate holds napkins; an Opus One, loaves of bread, for French-American alliances.
Except for the busy credit-card computer, it could be a movie set, with marble-top tables, bentwood chairs, evocative tilework, glowing lights and brasserie-style plateaus of shellfish.
Befitting provenance: excellent steak tartare, strip steak frites, filet mignon au poivre, flaky braised short ribs; plus juicy, pan-roasted chicken and seared duck breast and confit of leg. There's fine, pan-seared halibut, too; and a rich, husky version of the croque monsieur sandwich. Satisfying appetizers include escargots capped with puff-pastry "shells" in a dimpled plate with parsley-garlic butter; frisee aux lardons, and beet salad with goat cheese; a hefty "macaroni gratin" with ham, Gruyère and Emmentaler. Finales include professional crème brûlée and profiteroles.
Near-bland brandade that's more potato than salt cod; very mild onion soup; standard fried calamari; forgettable charcuterie; overcooked apple and lemon-meringue tarts; routine chocolate mousse; modest, partly French cheese plate.
THE BOTTOM LINE French-American fun