When you walk into Bistro Niko, you’re transported out of Buckhead to a quaint café on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. You can just feel the Parisian air filled with soft music, the smell of baguettes and the clatter of patrons enjoying their wine. From French staples like fantastic escargot, charcuterie, tartes, cocktails, and French-inspired Skate Wing, there’s a little bit of that French inspiration in every dish. Would you take a stroll down to the Arc de Triomphe with us?
Starting with the hors d’oeuvres, we sampled the escargot, Jambon de asparagus, a little bit of the country pâté plate, as well as the best little salmon tarte. The favorite of these was the fresh and bright smoked salmon tarte with its slow-smoked in house and tender salmon atop a crisp “French pizza” bread and drizzled with an amazing crème fraiche. With the salt and slight fishiness of the salmon, crisp of the bread, creaminess of the crème, and earthiness of the minced onion and capers, it was a balance and delicious bite. A lox bagel all grown up!
Plus, who knew we loved escargot this much? Something we don’t eat very often, this is going on the “we need to try more” list, because it’s so rich and decadent you need your own bowl. You won’t want to share. From the buttery-goodness of the sauce surrounding the salty snail to the crunch and heft of the puff pastry, to the slight cheesiness around it, it was a fantastic little mouthful. It had so much deepness that it was unforgettable. Eat the entire bite at once. YUM.
Moving on to the Jambon and pâté: the Jambon, which is known to us as prosciutto, was PERFECTLY cut and literally would melt in your mouth. One of the best prosciutto slices we’ve ever tasted; the flavor itself was phenomenal! Perfectly paired with crunchy and tender asparagus, crunchy lettuce, and a rich poached egg, it was an all-around great bite. Salty, rich, crunchy, tasty. The traditional country pâté reminded us of a make-your-own sandwich. Accompanied by crunchy lettuce, bread, pickles, and mustard, you could add all of it in one bite or eat the pâté plain. The best bite here was to put some of the pâté, lettuce, mustard, and one pickle on top. It’s a crunchy, salty, and meaty bite. Now, that’s a sandwich!
Don’t leave Bistro Niko without trying the chef’s favorite dish, Skate Wing. As something you don’t see very often on menus, we had to jump at the chance to try it this once. Let us tell you, it’s super rich and delectable! Starting with the ray itself, it starts out with a crunch on the outside and ends with tender and meaty, lightly salty on the back. Perfectly cooked in a brown butter that is so rich and deep that it simply melts in your mouth. The Skate is paired with tender spinach and potatoes to add earthiness and balance out the buttery fish. It was one of the best fish dishes we’ve had this year with so many complex flavors, yet so simple. We’d highly recommend!
What would a French dinner be without wine and cocktails? Not very Parisian, right? So, with each course, we sampled a different cocktail. With the escargot and Jambon, we sampled the Trois Martini. This beauty is the perfect mix of vodka infused with strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry. It drinks just as juicy and bright as the fruit in it but with the vodka booze on the back. It’s so refreshing and good. With our second course of the tarte and pâté, we decided to go with a wine cocktail mix called the Specialite Le St. Germain. One of the best Champagne cocktails you can find here in Atlanta, it’s a delicate balance of floral St. Germain, Champagne, and club soda. The perfect Parisian patio sipper with fizzy bubbles followed by floral notes and ending cool and crisp. Last but not least, with the Skate we enjoyed our favorite sip of the day, the Nouvelle Vie. Made with one of our favorite gins, Highclere Castle Gin and shaken with elderflower, Chareau, and cucumber, it’s a dynamic all-around crowd-pleaser. Imagine the earthy and piney of the gin on the front and finishes with floral and cucumber on the back. So flavorful and bold, this one is a must-try.
The late lunch in the French café seeped into the evening, and the lights of the Eiffel Tower started to glow in the background. The delicious meal now fades into memory but will mark an unforgettable portion of our trip to Bistro Niko, that spot that reminds us of Paris.