Dave and I agreed that the ratatouille was worthy of having a movie named after it, cooked the untrendy, old-time way until all the vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, onions, bell peppers, fresh-tasting tomatoes, garlic) are thoroughly tender. (Lately, some restaurants are making a nearly crisp, low-oil version. Who wants hard eggplant, ever?) Sharing the overloaded plate were two sprigs of broccollini, a layer of spinach leaves under the lamb, and a ramekin of potato gratin with Gruyère topping. The potatoes were cubed rather than traditionally thin-sliced, making the texture weighty, and some of the cheese was oven-charred black. I love gratins, just not this way.
Desserts are simple, house-made, very French. We shared a tarte aux pommes, a gallette of sliced apples baked atop a very thin crust. (It’s not a tarte tatin because the crust isn’t puff pastry.) This came with a rich butterscotch syrup, drips of chocolate, and a refreshing topknot of bracingly sour crème fraîche. The accompanying espresso was decent, with a bit of crema foaming on top.
“Would you come back here again?” asked Dave. Yes, but I’d certainly wait for a seasonal change in the unimaginative menu. Because Au Revoir is a bistro doesn’t mean it has to cleave to so many touristic dishes or cook them as carelessly as that fricassee. At this reasonable price point, I can’t expect Chef Herbeck to reproduce the expensive delights of Marius, but it would be wonderful if he could return to the form he showed at Twins, a form that still shows in his best dishes here. ■
★★1/2 (Good to Very Good)
420 Robinson Avenue (at Fourth Avenue), Hillcrest, 619-268-2400; aurevoirbistro.com
HOURS: Sunday–Thursday 11:30 a.m.–10:00 p.m., weekends until 11:00 p.m.
PRICES: Soups, starters, salads $4.50–about $12.00. Entrées $10.50–$23.50. Desserts $4.50–$6.75. (Note: menu changes seasonally, prices change.)
CUISINE & BEVERAGES: Classic French bistro, with menu divided between Les Classiques (escargots, onion soup, boeuf bourguignon, etc.) and En Saison (seasonal dishes). Wine list mostly French, affordable, with plenty of fine choices by the glass.
PICK HITS: Onion soup, rack of lamb with ratatouille (special). Good bets: mussels and fries, mushroom ravioli, petit fillet mignon with béarnaise sauce, boeuf bourguignon.
NEED TO KNOW: Small free parking lot (if full, pay parking is available at Rite Aid across the street). Wraparound street patio. Dining room noisy when half full; most chairs unpadded wood. A few lacto-vegetarian options.