Yesterday Chris Fletcher drove down from Custodio, about an hour and a half north of here, and I had lunch with his family and a few friends in Bucerias. Chris asked me to just pick some place so I made a reservation at a new restaurant called Bistrot O Delices, a little slip of a French café that just opened last month. I figured that after eating nothing but Mexican food for the past week, the Fletchers would be ready for something a little different (as his 80-something mother, Sally, said to me as we sat down, “You can only eat so many cold quesadillas for lunch every day if you get my drift.” I did.)
I had walked into town the day before and introduced myself to the chef’s wife who looks remarkably like a young Juliette Binoche with those same dark melancholy eyes. It was a little after noon but there was no one in the bistro except her husband, the chef, who was sitting at a table placed on the cobblestone street outside the restaurant smoking a cigarette.
I explained to her that I wanted to make a reservation for eight or nine people for the following day. It wasn’t that I was afraid there wouldn’t be room for us in the small patio, though there are only four or five tables; I just wanted to make sure that the chef knew we were coming so he would be prepared and not run out of food. This is something you can’t imagine in the States, but this is the way it is in Bucerias. Most of these restaurants are very small and they get used to having only a few customers every day and so when a large party walks in, you are taking your chances.
The young woman, whose name I can’t recall, was quite charming. She showed me the menu, which is mostly quiches and various French sandwiches, and told me that her husband could make us whatever we wanted. If we wanted some fish or perhaps chicken, he would do it. Just tell her how many orders he would need to prepare. Since I didn’t know if people were going to be particularly hungry or not, I told her we would just take our chances and the chef should just make his normal special of the day. She said he would be sure to make enough for us.
When we arrived promptly at 1:30, everything was all arranged. They’d put several small tables together in the garden and covered them with white table cloths and we sat in the shade of the trees and some garden umbrellas just as if we were in the south of France. After we settled in, the chef’s wife told us that her husband had made a wonderful special, rôti de porc with carmelized onions and roasted new potatoes. Had we been in France, no doubt everyone would have ordered the rôti de porc and a couple of bottles of slightly chilled Rhone wine, but we were in Mexico and no one was actually starving to death so just about everyone ordered either a croque monsieur or the quiche Lorraine along with sparkling water or ice tea. By the time the chef’s wife got to me, I was feeling a bit badly that nobody had ordered up the chef’s special of the day, so of course I went for it and also asked for a glass of wine. Eight adults eating a late lunch at a small French bistro and I’m the only one drinking wine. Oh well.
The food was spectacular. The quiche Lorraine was classic as were the croque monsieurs with their thick slabs of artisan bread covered in Gruyère cheese but the best thing was the rôti de porc. It was so moist and flavorful that I started handing out medallions of pork for everyone to taste along with a roasted potato or two. The chef here obviously knows his stuff. But I worry about him and his Juliette Binoche look-alike wife. I have known other couples like them that started up little eateries around here only to quickly go bust. Several years ago there was a little Italian café in San Pancho run by an Italian pastry chef and his wife. They made the most amazing breads and little pizzas and had some old-fashioned espresso machine and you could get a cannoli or a slice of cheesecake and a cappuccino and sit at a little table on the street and just be in heaven. But the next year, when I went back, they were gone.
I fear the same thing will happen with this ersatz Juliette Binoche and her talented chef husband. Most likely, Bistrot O Delices will not be around next year. But for as long as they continue to grace the little town of Bucerias, I will stop by for a croque monsieur or two and a glass of wine.
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