Back Street Bistro

A few weeks ago on a trip to Maine we went back to the college town of Brunswick, where one of our sons spent his undergraduate years. It’s one of those small, idyllic northern New England cities with a large village green, tree-lined streets, and ties to American history and literature. Brunswick is also home to several good restaurants and, it being Mother’s Day, we decided to try to find one. We had been to quite a number of the town’s eating places in the past. Our first choice was Henry and Marty on Maine Street, but with the holiday they were booked until 8:30 or so. We opted for another place we’d visited before called Back Street Bistro (because of its out-of-the-way location). We were pleasantly surprised at how much it has improved.

For one, the owners have brightened the interior with a lighter shade of paint and maybe new lighting fixtures. Both of us remembered the restaurant as very dark from our visit a decade or so earlier. The staff, too, was very friendly and accommodating—like ushering us right in when we arrived a good half-hour before our reservation time and in proposing a Pinot Noir that was more in our price range than the $50 bottle on the wine list. So even before the food arrived, we were enjoying the place very much.

Our dinner also proved to be entirely satisfactory. My husband started off with a chèvre salad which was fresh and delightfully dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. I had the beef carpaccio. The meat itself was fine, if not exceptional like the appetizer served at Joelle’s French Bistro in the Finger Lakes last summer. The outstanding part here was the marinated cubed peppers and lime aïoli served with it. Very nice. Another accommodation made for us at the restaurant was that they allowed us to split the main course. We were not at all disappointed in the evening’s special: a pan-fried duck breast in a tasty sauce on a bed of vegetables. Even the bistro’s dessert menu tempted us. I am always game for crème brûlée and theirs was just right: a hint of vanilla but no other heavily flavored (and just plain wrong!) additions to it. Hubby chose a deliciously creamy chocolate fondant. All in all, it was a wonderful dining experience at not too high a price. We’ll definitely go back!

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