Nestled on the north side of Park Avenue inside the Shops on Park Atrium, enclosed with family owned boutiques, it is easy to skip by Paris Bistro, truly a hidden gem. Rarely do I get a chance to venture out to Winter Park during a weekday and that to lunch hours. My fellow foodie and close friend had a day off so we decided to spend some quality girl time, strolling the streets of Park Avenue. Surrounded with stylish boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants we were looking forward to a relaxing and fun afternoon.
If it wasn’t for the enterprising well dressed waiter standing at the entrance of the Atrium, we would have totally skipped by Paris Bistro. Now I must admit, I have walked Park Avenue on numerous occasions, in broad daylight and night-time, but I had no clue that there was a restaurant hidden inside these boutiques. From the street all I saw was a koi pond and a beautifully lit tree. The waiter caught my attention with the gentle magical whisper – french cuisine. Everyone, who is even vaguely acquainted with me, has been made well aware regarding my love for French cuisine. I adore french food and have yet to eat a dish which I disliked.
That said, my first instinct was to walk away. Even though my foodie friend doesn’t fancy French food, she does have an adventurous soul. And since, we had no particular agenda, we decided to take a chance and try Paris Bistro.
We walked into an intimate space, quintessentially decorated with red velvet and crystal chandeliers. My friend couldn’t help remark on my excitement over french food. To be honest, I was a bit nervous too, trying to harness my expectations. But for $11.95 a person for a three course meal, how could anyone go wrong on those prices?
It took a few awkward dialogues to break the ice but soon the waiter and I had a clear understanding of our expectations. We started our lunch soiree with iced tea and coffee. Followed by our first course of salads and a simple bread basket. Both our salads were lightly dressed with fresh greens. The Cesar salad dressing was exactly how I like it. Light, tangy, with a hint of pepper and Parmesan. I was already won, did I have to eat more food?
For the second course we chose the Chicken Pesto Croissant Sandwich and veal Normande. Both our entree’s came with a side of potato gratin. Now mind you, this isn’t your standard chicken salad sandwich which comes typically to mind. The chicken was a generous helping of herb roasted chicken, dressed with shaved onions, cheese, and pesto. One bite was all it take to represent what French food stands for and showcase how seriously the French take their food:
“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”
My veal Normande was melting in your mouth goodness, delicately flavored, it was pure orgasmic! (please excuse my over zealous description, I do have a weakness for French food). The potatoes on the other hand left much to be desired. I could certainly do without them.
For our dessert course, we ordered Creme Brulee and Profiteroles. Creme Brulee is a classic French dessert consisting of a custard topped with caramelized sugar. Simple, right? That said, creme brulee is the trickiest dessert to make. The sugar can get burnt, the custard could be blobby or thick, the brulee might not chill well….and so forth. I had yet to have a decent brulee in Central Florida until I tasted Paris Bistro’s version of creme brulee. It was the right consistency and was dressed with the ideal thin layer of caramelized sugar, crispy cracked top with a creamy custard inside. Oh my! we both were in food coma.
Since the brulee stole our hearts, we didn’t have room to appreciate the profiteroles. Though they were a bit dense in my opinion. But whose complaining? After all, we had the most unexpected amazing lunch ever. An ideal way to indulge our girl’s day out. So, thank you Paris Bistro, for feeding not only our bellies, but satiating our souls too!!
Bottom line: Meals at French restaurants can be intimidating, especially when you can’t pronounce the dishes and imagine oneself being surrounded with pompous staff. With such reasonable prices, especially for French cuisine, why not step out of your comfort zone? I invite you to give Paris Bistro a chance, it just might make you a lover of french cuisine.
Note: The three course $11.95 menu is available Monday-Friday for lunch. You can check out the rest of Paris Bistro’s menu on their website.