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A French-style omelette may appear to be a simple recipe, but, for many chefs, it’s a gauge of a cook’s technical skills. In the case of Bar Bête, Marc St. Jacques should lead a master class: His rolled omelette ($15) is a silky, perfectly pale-yellow blanket of eggs that cradles a generous amount of peekytoe crab with finely chopped chives, all topped with seaweed butter.
This dish alone convinced us that we could be regulars at this Brooklyn spot, which draws inspiration from the trendy neighborhood bistros dotting cities like Paris, Montreal and New Orleans. When these restaurants are done right, they feel like updated classics offering well-executed plates in a casual environment that peels back any pretense.
Recently, we stepped into the narrow, 50-seat room. There was a buzzy energy, but you could still have a conversation above the din. There’s a glow throughout the understated space that matches the food itself: classic but with unexpected twists that keep surprising you, no matter how many times you’ve tasted these flavors before. Take the chickpea crêpe ($9), for example, which reminded us of two favorites: socca, the crispy snack commonly found in the South of France, and a comforting grilled-cheese sandwich—here, the crêpe’s triangles of dough oozed with buttery cow cheese and spicy Swiss chard. The mushroom brioche ($7) glistens as the sherry butter melts on top; if you order this with the crêpe, it’s like nirvana for a carb lover.
As a Frenchman next to us tucked into the bouilli ($29), the Québécois version of pot au feu, we watched as his knife was rendered useless by the fork-tender short ribs and accompanying vegetables, nestled in a clear broth. We couldn’t help but order the same dish. You can watch St. Jacques in the open kitchen as he artfully places each component of the dish—once considered peasant food—into a shallow bowl. It’s another seemingly classic recipe that proves tradition is anything but boring.