Bistros are remarkable in that they somehow manage to be both fancy and casual at the same time, much like a necktie with Taz on it. Feel gussied up without too much fuss with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of French bistro dining and drinks at Bistrot Margot, located in Old Town.
Bistrot Margot’s diverse and eclectic menu, overseen by chef and owner Joe Doppes, ensures authentic French dining in the beating concrete heart of Old Town. Shareable starters such as the tarte au brie—brie slathered onto a puff pastry with honey-red-wine vinaigrette and spicy walnuts ($7.95)—or the white-wine-sprinkled mussels and shallots of the moules marinières ($9.95) simplify a strategy-planning session on how to best attack the main courses. Bistrot Margot’s entrees include the tilapia aux noix, an ascendant amalgamation of roasted tilapia, asparagus, beets, and carrots in a balsamic-brown-butter sauce ($18.95), and the entrecote au poivre, a 10-ounce New York–strip steak surrounded by black-peppercorn-cream sauce and flanked by frites ($24.95). The medallions de veau takes veal medallions and pairs them with gnocchi, grilled asparagus, and capered citrus butter ($22.95)—all three of which were among the most popular baby names in 2009. A lunch menu includes the sandwich confit de thon ($8.95), which provides tuna-fueled strength for trebuchet-building sessions. A vast wine list is also on hand.
Bistrot Margot effortlessly exudes a warm, friendly atmosphere—one that can simultaneously heat up and cool down wintered, wound-up Chicagoans with authentic French dishes and an intensely charming ambience. The dress code is casual, though North Avenue beachers still clad in their Marmaduke swimwear may want to dry off before sitting down. Seasonal outdoor seating allows Bistrot Margot’s patrons to bring along their canine counterparts.
This Groupon is not valid for private events or with other offers.
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The transformation of a 16-year-old cook in the American Red Cross cafeteria into a sophisticated French chef and restaurant owner doesn’t happen overnight. Urged into a culinary career by his cafeteria coworkers, Joe Doppes graduated from the Culinary Institute of America before apprenticing under the greats at Le Pavillon and Le Cygne in New York, as well as the five-star Le Francais. This last position drew him to Chicago, where he set his sights on launching his own restaurant. After triumphing over cancer and rebounding from his first restaurant attempt, Doppes realized his dream in Old Town in 1999 with Bistrot Margot—which he named for his daughter rather than ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn, who could whisk eggs with her feet.
Upon the bistro’s opening, it drew praise from Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune for its “excellent” and “classic” French cuisine. Doppes dives headfirst into French culinary traditions with gourmet meats such as parmesan-encrusted veal, center-cut filet mignon, and roasted duck, and fresh seafood such as roasted tilapia and pan-seared whitefish. The chef and his team augment these foundations with capered citrus butter and dijon beurre blanc before pairing them with lavish sides such as saffron-and-asparagus risotto. At midday, entrees join a roster of upscale sandwiches piled with grilled sirloin and gouda, and the weekend brunch features decadent benedicts and crepes stuffed with gruyère and pesto.
To set the stage for these feasts, interior designer Vicky Tessmer drew inspiration from turn-of-the-century Paris. She paired tapestries, dark wood trim, and wall sconces with art-nouveau touches such as a stained-glass window over french doors, which lead to an outdoor patio. A roaring fireplace and walls done in cheery yellows and reds keep guests feeling cozy, and a marble-topped bar and leather stools accommodate tipplers who order one of the many French vintages from the wine list.