SILENCE HAS A NAME - Poetry Chapbook and CD, with Music by Mark Hanley

Monday, April 4, 2011

France in Fort Lee

A sophisticated, hot spot with a Mediterranean swagger, a lot of cool and culture is just what Fort Lee needs and now has in the way of Khloe Bistrot, a French provincial restaurant newly opened on Main Street. It's in a hopeful location, across the street from where Borders -- the only other thinking person's hangout in the area I can think of -- was once situated, and is now closing. The owner of Khloe's and her co-workers smoke their cigarettes outside the Bistro, staring nervously across the street at the giant-sized posters announcing everything must go, "50-percent off," "75-percent off everything," dangling from the high windows of Borders. It may hardly seem the time to launch anything, but it's spring, and this is a daring and fresh idea, and it's high time French cuisine came to Fort Lee.

To step into Khloe's is to know immediately that you are in a stylish, affluent home, where you may hang out for a while if you are willing to spend some money. Just as you step in, you can see the busy kitchen beyond a counter to your left. A chandelier hangs opposite. The ceiling is high and the walls are painted black. You will not want to get up at all from the comfortable Louis XIV style chaises distributed around sturdy wooden square and round tables. The music, a blend of European rock and Sirius Chill, emanates from a line of giant speakers, and is cool and sexy.

The owner, Nina, who hails from some two locales, one of which is French, was elusive but excited about her new restaurant, which, in a couple of weeks, will stretch its hours until two a.m., and start including bite-size offerings on its menu.

"It's for people that don't want to go home early, that want to stay out and have fun," she said.

A long-time insomniac once addicted to all-night partying and dancing, I can relate.

The menu is delightful but uneven, with possibilities even for vegetarians. While the tri-colored salad was insignificant, although its price -- $11-$12 -- was not, the risotto, cooked al dente to perfection, and combined with shitake and portobello mushrooms and butternut squash, was savory and hot. A dessert shared by three, the Shue Hazelnut creme, an ample puff inside which was a creme to die for, was really superb. The espresso, another must for me, meaning Must-Be-Perfect, was not. Too intense and oily. The fuel oil variety, which I can live without, especially at the price of $4 per single shot. Our meal for three, sans alcoholic beverages, came to about $170, including the tip. You have to BYOB.

Khloe is chock full of possibilities and has the thrill of parties to come hanging in the air. The conversation, ambience and dessert really made it a worthwhile experience. I'm looking forward to checking out what's cooking there -- in the kitchen and elsewhere -- a couple of months from now. Its first weekends, I heard, were packed.

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