Wine & Dine
Delicious bistro fare at Le Bilboquet paired with wines chosen by Georgia’s sole master sommelier
In a metro area of nearly six million, there are wine dinners nearly every night. But one led by Georgia’s only certified master sommelier, well, that is a unique treat. That rarity was the shared experience of several guests on a recent evening at Le Bilboquet, a legendary New York City French bistro that opened in Atlanta in 2014.
Situated in the courtyard of the Shops Buckhead Atlanta, the jewel box of a restaurant offered an exquisite setting for the first of several sommelier dinners slated to take place on the third Monday of every month through the summer. Before the first bite, the restaurant’s interior, with its large windows, impresses. “I love the way the light changes throughout the day and from season to season,” noted local writer Carolyn O’Neil, one of the evening’s attendees.
Amid views of high-end storefronts such as Theory and Billy Reid, the bistro’s lounge was arranged with a perfect square of tables draped in white tablecloths. Each was adorned with candles, simple white dinnerware, mother-of-pearl flatware, petite arrangements of fuchsia carnations and aspidistra leaves, and, of course, lots of crystal-clear stemware.
The wine lover’s delights set to fill these tables were, naturally, exquisitely French, and most of them are quite affordable. Our aperitif was a flute of dry 2014 vintage of Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut, Languedoc-Roussillon, with a yeasty base and fresh hints of apple. As with all the wines that evening, this bubbly was selected by Michael McNeill, the only certified master sommelier in Georgia and one of only 149 in the United States.
Le Bilboquet’s reputation preceded it, so tonight’s guests came prepared for the best—a meal with finesse and zest—That’s exactly what guests received: a five-course menu of delights created by Cyrille Holota, an alum of The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead and JOËL who has been the executive chef here since mid-2016.
“Chef Holota likes to have the servers guess ingredients,” explained our hostess, Ilona Knopfler. Le Bilboquet’s general manager.” It makes the menu more than words; it’s experiential. They’ve lived the experience and can better tell guests about it.”
Excerpt is from an article featured in the summer issue of Flavors Magazine, subscribe today and don't miss a single issue!
Rustic Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
Recipe by Cyrille Holota, Executive Chef, Le Bilboquet
Yield: 8 appetizer servings
1 cup Crab Base Mayonnaise (recipe included)
2 eggs, beaten
3 pounds jumbo lump crab
7 ounces cubed pullman loaf
Verjus Summer Truffle Dressing to taste (recipe included)
1 bunch jumbo asparagus
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice to taste
orange zest to taste
frisée lettuce as needed for garnish
Parmesan shavings for garnish
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix Crab Base Mayonnaise with eggs. Gently fold in crabmeat, and then add cubed bread. Let mixture rest about 30 minutes. Shape crab into 8 cakes (about 3 1/2-ounces each). Place cakes on baking sheet and cook until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile peel asparagus and cook in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Shock in ice water. Cut asparagus into 4-inch pieces.
Right before serving, season asparagus with salt and pepper, truffle dressing, lemon juice and orange zest. Place asparagus in center of plates; place warm crab cake on top and drizzle truffle dressing around plate. Add 3 small pieces frisée lettuce and 3 shaves Parmesan per serving.
Crab Base Mayonnaise
7 egg yolks
1 cup grapeseed oil
3 ounces Worcestershire sauce
2 ounces jus
1 cup Dijon-style mustard
salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces cumin powder
For the Crab Base Mayonnaise
Make a mayonnaise with all ingredients above.
Verjus Summer Truffle Dressing
1 7.50 ml (25 ounce) bottle verjus
1 clove garlic
1 sprig thyme
8 black peppercorns
3 cups blended oil
1 ounce summer truffle, diced
For the Verjus Summer Truffle Dressing
Place wine, garlic, thyme and peppercorns in a pot and bring to boil. Turn off heat and let infuse 10 minutes. Strain liquid and slowly emulsify with oil. Once emulsified, add diced truffle. Refrigerate extra for future use. Holds for up to 1 week.