Bistro Duet [Arlington, MA]

Some neighbors and I decided it was time to check out this fairly new (January) addition to the Arlington dining scene, located in the former Flora space. They were Flora semi-regulars and instantly recognized, and were recognized by, our wonderful waitress who joked that she was part of the sale of the restaurant.

Two of us started with cocktails: I enjoyed the Mojito de Champagne and a Whisky Sour Cerise went down quickly next to me.

Then two salads – one DC had a peekytoe crab and avocado salad which she loved and I had the Salade Printaniere (haricots verts on mixed lettuces with pickled onions and julienned radishes). Both salads were gorgeously plated and perfectly dressed. Mine was far better than you might imagine for such fundamentally pedestrian ingredients – I enjoyed every bite of it. We were also served thick slices of warm, crusty bread that was completely irresistible. We failed to ask if it was housemade – all I can tell you is that I rarely eat the bread offered and I snarfed down a large piece very happily.

For mains one DC had the pan-seared perch fillet with tomato carpaccio, spinach, artichoke and beetroot emulsion which was a truly beautiful plate of food. He is not a big talker so I have no details to offer but his plate was entirely empty and he seemed very happy. The other DC had the lobster ravioli which she said was wonderful. I had the duck duet (duck breast, duck confit hash, baby kale and sage cream sauce). I enjoyed it but next time would ask for the duck breast to be cooked to medium-rare (it came out medium). It was very tender though, the fat rendered and the skin well-browned. The kale and sauce were very good. The duck confit hash was less successful, consisting of disks of purple potato which were kind of mealy, interspersed with tasty shreds of duck. We asked our waitress to recommend the right glass of wine for each dish (I got a pinot noir that was perfect, really wonderfully chosen).

One DC got the strawberry rhubarb millefeuille and the other got the blueberry mousse. Both were gorgeous (really everything was plated with great care but not pretension) and said to be terrific.

All of us were glad we went. While the meal was not revelatory in any way, I would say I liked it better than the Globe review (“When just good is good enough”) and would happily return any time I wanted a nice dinner without schlepping into town. I did not once have the sense that I sometimes do at this sort of restaurant that I could have made it all myself and done a better job – I hate that feeling.

They offer a Sunday jazz brunch, a prix fixe dinner from 5 to 6 Monday through Wednesday for movie-goers at nearby Capitol Theatre, and music Thursday nights. Our waitress also said they are planning other special events throughout the summer and will have some outdoor seating at some point. I think this is a very good addition to the neighborhood. http://www.bistroduet.com./

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold