Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
Ponty Bistro is an interesting restaurant; not because of the decor, but more the selection of dishes that are French, African and Mediterranean. There, Chef Cisse, who opened the restaurant in 2008 with his cousin, after years in the restaurant business and an impressive resume (Daniel Boulud at Daniel Restaurant, Vong and Mercer Kitchen for Jean-Georges Vongerichten and others), crafted an eclectic menu adding some African influence to some traditional dishes.
But do not imagine that all dishes are like that and if you are more traditional, you will surely find something that will suit you, whether it is Italian (ravioli or pasta) or French (carré d'agneau).
Decor wise, this 45 seat restaurant is like a trip to another place, if it was not for the loud noise of the street outside that brings you back to the reality of the city when the windows are open.
To start off the evening, I decided to try one of their martinis (know that those are not traditional ones made with gin and vermouth). I, of course, chose The French, made with cassis, pineapple and vodka. It was fairly refreshing, having the right balance between the two kinds of fruit (they apparently use fresh fruit), and on the light side as far as the alcohol content is concerned. This was fine for me as I am not too much of a cocktail guy, but it could be dangerous as some may drink it as they would drink milk...
Then came first dish that is not on the menu (know that these were tasting portions): it is a special that is served everyday and that one would appreciate as the temperature rises. It was a gazpacho, made with tomato, cucumber and Berber spices (light touch).
The second dish was surprisingly good: it was a kale salad with pine nuts, dried cherries, apple, dried apricot and goat cheese, perfectly dressed with a lemon and honey vinaigrette. I wrote "surprisingly ", because I admit I cringed when I heard the word "kale". It is probably bad experiences in the past, when I ended up with bitter leaves that made up my mind about these trendy leaves. I liked it and finished my plate...
After the kale salad, we got a taste of their wild mushroom risotto. That was a great dish: classic but perfectly executed, with an aroma that could have made me forget my bonnes manieres (etiquette), making me not wait for my fellow bloggers to be served before starting to eat.
Then, it escalated to an even better dish: mussels or moules Africana.
The sauce was made with coconut milk, curry and lemongrass. It had a very subtle heat that I only felt after eating few of these giant mussels that are sourced in Long Island. Understand: that sauce was delicious with either bread, fries (hand cut and heavenly crispy) or simply eaten with a spoon. Ok, so you probably noticed that I mentioned dipping the fries in the sauce. Well, I do not see any other purpose when pairing fries and mussels! Try it!
The last dish was Le Poulet Tagine or the chicken tagine, a Moroccan dish.
Chef Cisse really cooks it in a tagine, this traditional pot that gave the name to these succulent dishes. The chicken, perfectly cooked, was smothered by a sauce loaded with spices that had a little kick. It was served with couscous as well as vegetables cut in small pieces.
Last were desserts. We tried three of them:
The chocolate fondant (damn it, my fellow bloggers got the best part):
The crème brûlée:
My favorite was definitely the tiramisu that was delicious and ended the evening on a nice note. For sure, the dishes showed how versatile Chef Cisse is, proposing a wide range of choices well executed. Ponty Bistro is the kind of place that can satisfy any crowd, adventurous or not. So, you may want to check it out...
Enjoy (I did)!
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