First things, first.
Co-owner Laurent Lesort wants everyone to know: “We [Le Bilboquet] are not a franchise. We are not a big company.”
The reason he’s saying this, in case you’re not familiar with Le Bilboquet history, is because there’s another French bistro in New York City with the exact same name and similar white-table-cloth look as the Le Bilboquet that has just opened its doors on 4514 Travis Street. The Dallas one has existed for 11 days. The one in New York? 27 years. After almost three decades in the Upper East Side, the cozy French restaurant that (some say) helped redefine New York brunch left its original location after the lease expired. It’ll soon re-open in a new spot this August.
Now, onto the fun part: Lesort (of the Dallas Le Bilboquet) and his friend/co-owner/business partner, Stephan Courseau, have known each other for 30 years. They went to high school together. They even worked at the Le Bilboquet on Upper East Side side-by-side, managing the New York restaurant for owner Philippe Delgrange. Then stars aligned and Courseau moved to Dallas with his family for business. He thought Dallas would be a great place for “something casual, something French,” says Lesort.
It would be the ideal city for a French neighborhood bistro.
Delgrange, a friend to Courseau and Lesort, gave the two his permission to use Le Bilboquet’s name and identity. “It’s more as a favor that he allowed us to do the restaurant,” says Lesort. “I personally didn’t know Dallas. Now that I’ve moved here since December, I love it. People are so nice here compared to New York City. It’s a great city for what we’re trying to do. There aren’t a lot of French bistros. The idea is to become local even though we are French.”
Courseau and Lesort even lassoed in New York Le Bilboquet’s executive chef, “MoMo” Sow – who’s been cooking there for 20 years – to switch over to the Dallas location. The menu on Travis Street is the exact menu that Sow has been cooking for the last 3.5 years. The Cajun chicken, tuna tartare, and salmon tartare are classics, says Sow, whereas the sea scallops and halibut are specials that have now become permanent fixtures for the Dallas location.
The good-natured Sow spent five years in France and likes to keep his food traditional. “What I find out [from being here in Dallas] … the food is more spicy, Mexican-influenced cuisine. What we are doing is more classic French.”
“MoMo cooks like my mom and grandmother used to cook,” says Lesort. His old friend’s food is straightforward, non-gimmicky, and reflects the low-key interior design of the restaurant. It’s exactly as Lesort describes his intentions for Le Bilboquet on Travis Street: to keep the restaurant “fresh, clean, and casual.”
- crab and avocado salad
- pan seared sea scaloops, tomato coulis & vegetables
- endive salad w/French blue cheese, dijon vinaigrette
- creme caramel with sliced almonds, vanilla bean
The dessert menu
- crème brûlée
- chocolate mousse
- assorted sorbet (passion fruit and lemon)
- and a special dessert every night