It’s easy to overdo it at Bardot Brasserie. Chef Josh Smith and his team provide so many delicious options, ordering too much is more probability than possibility.
The Aria hot spot’s first tasting menu, a mood-capturing meal known as Summer in Provence ($65 plus $35 for beverage pairings, available through September), treats diners to a four-course excursion through one of France’s culinary capitals. “The real idea here was just to lighten up a heavy, rich, French menu for summer and offer it in this neat little package,” Smith says.
Provence is heavily influenced by Mediterranean cuisine, so it also features tastes of Italy, Spain and Greece. “Lots of herbs, lots of citrus, lots of vegetables.” Smith says. “It matches the season.” Each course delivers multiple options. For starters, choose between summer melon or tuna tartare niçoise. The melon, sourced nearby from Weiser Farms, is a real standout, the sweetness of the fruit offset by domestic Bayonne ham. Fromage blanc mousse is mixed with fig compote, and it’s so creamy and light it could just as easily be an extravagant breakfast course.
Course two means a choice between duck wings a l’orange and a modern take on Parisian gnocchi au pistou. The wings, a Bardot staple, have a smoky quality from their time on the wood fire plancha, and are slathered in an addictive blood-orange glaze. The gnocchi, potato-less, are made instead with semolina flour. Goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, summer vegetables and pine nuts add different tastes and textures to each bite.
Throw a dart at the main-course options—you’ll get something special wherever it lands. Smith’s take on sole meunière is light and completely gluten free, with the roulades of the fish topped with crumbs made from the accompanying sunchokes. Coquilles St. Jacques features stunningly sweet scallops courtesy of Viking Village out of Barnegate Light, New Jersey. The accompanying black trumpet mushrooms, potato fondant and Bloomsdale spinach would comprise a worthy vegetarian dish on their own. Lamb rack frites hit the spot for those wanting a meatier main, and the chickpea frites are a fun and thoughtful riff on the normal potato version.
Dessert offers the crunchy and sweet strawberry pavlova or a fun bing cherry clafoutis. The latter, somewhere between pudding and cake, is flat-out delicious, the pistachio ice cream topping seeping into every bite.