Jazzy sounds from Josephine Baker’s sultry voice singing “J’ai deux amours, mon pays et Paris,” play in the background as we enter into a lively bar and bistro after a movie. A stylish hostess with dark hair and red horned-rimmed glasses – scarf delicately draped around her neck – leads us into the restaurant. As we pass the bar, I hear a gentleman order a “seize” and a Bordeaux rouge.” The aroma of steak frites and boeuf bourguignon wafts through the air in the dining room, before we’re seated into cushy chairs. Groups of tables are sectioned off by billowing light curtains, draping from ceiling to floor.
A trendy Paris bistro? Mais non! Just a slice of Paris in North Carolina. Print Works Bistro takes it hat off to Paris with a mélange of modern ambiance and classical food. Thanks to Chef Bart Ortiz , who showcased his cuisine with an homage to America’s beloved “French Chef,” Julia Child in the month of August. The menu was timed perfectly to coincide with the release of the movie we had just seen, “Julie & Julia.”
Chef Bart succeeds in serving up perfect French food – neither fussy nor pretentious – just simple and fabulous! He’s passionate about what he creates, like any successful chef must be. He uses fresh, seasonal and local products.
We ordered from his prix fixe menu, “Honoring Julia Child. ” Appetizers included Shrimp Crêpes with Mornay Sauce- to die for! Artichoke with Hollandaise -the Hollandaise is the star here. I can say that because I slathered on my crusty French bread after I demolished the artichoke. There was also Pork and Veal Paté with Black Forest ham, Dijon mustard and olive oil toasts.
The menu featured such entrées as Pan Braised Pork Chops with a local heirloom tomato compote, Lemon and White Wine baked Flounder – highly recommended by the staff, but I had to pass on it for the best of all – Julia Child’s signature dish – Boeuf Bourguignon. Pair the boeuf with a couple of glasses of Chateau Larose Trintaudon, Haut-Médoc Bordeaux (2004), French music playing in the background and maybe…just maybe for a second… you’ll feel like you’re in Paris. Well…it’s worth a try!
The pièce de résistance? Individual Chocolate Almond cake – moist gateau perfection. Talented Chef Bart pares down the recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking to make small, individual cakes smothered with a rich ganache. This is a heavenly chocolate dessert! He also offers local Faucette farm fresh peaches with blueberry sauce – a lighter way to end the meal if you like. I have a suspicion he will continue to offer the chocolate almond cake on his menu for several months!
Print Works Bistro, located in the Proximity Hotel, is one of the greenest hotels and restaurants in North America, as noted in Fortune Magazine’s June 2009 issue. The hotel “is partly solar powered and uses rain water to irrigate vegetables grown on the roof.” Sustainable practices such as sensor-controlled ventilation for the kitchen, geothermal energy for the restaurant’s refrigeration equipment and tabletops made of reclaimed walnut, contribute to the reasons why the hotel has received a LEEDS Platinum Certification.
Print Works Bistro in the Proximity Hotel, one of the “Five Places Not to Miss in the US,” according to Matt Lauer on the Today Show, may not be in France, but the chef does his best to transport you there with every bite of his fabulous French food. And, as the saying goes, I’ll always have Paris. Bon appétit!