An Artisan in the house
Dinner last week at Artisan Bistro in Lafayette. No photos this time, because it’s just too darned dark in there. Which is a shame because what I could see of the food was excellent.
We had Gail’s son and his girlfriend with us, and they are vegetarian. That’s not a problem in a good restaurant; they started with a beet salad which I think I might have liked even with the beets, then the mushroom soup and finally segued into the mushroom risotto. Everything was pronounced excellent. This is the real reason I can’t become a vegetarian–it’s apparently impossible without mushrooms.
The key to any great restaurant is the chef, and is exceptionally fortunate to have John Marquez, a Danville boy who grew up and made good, starting his career at Bridges, moving to high end places in Las Vegas, being recruited back to the Bay Area by famed chef Daniel Patterson, moving on to The holy of holys, the French Laundry in Yountville, opening Per Se in New York, back to the French Laundry, back to Daniel Patterson and being chef de cuisine at Coi, then Fringale, now Artisan Bistro. This is a resume to die for, and we are lucky to be able to enjoy his skills.
Back to the dinner. I had the Kubota squash soup, great except for the mushroom topping. Then venison, which I always love. They serve a very generous portion, on carrots and peas. Gail had the John Dory, cooked to soft perfection. By odd coincidence, these are the same dishes we had a couple of weeks ago at the vastly fancier and more expensive Sonoma Mission Inn–only Artisan prepares and serves them much, much better.
We found the service to be the quality you would expect in a 2 star Michelin restaurant, which makes sense since Chef Marquez has been working in the 2 star Coi and the 3 star French Laundry–he knows what should be done and how to do it and how to train his staff.
Having a place like Artisan Bistro here in Lafayette is a treat; you get high quality food and service at local prices and you don’t have to make a reservation months in advance. I recommend you take advantage of our good fortune.