The charming new restaurant in the former Eve space is Paris native Noguier’s dream come true. The chef-partner tells us Bistronomic’s backstory, his favorite dishes, what surprised him most about his customers, and more.
How did Bistronomic come to be?
It’s been my dream since I was in France. When I left One Sixtyblue, I wanted to open my own restaurant. When I went to work at Café des Architectes, one day, I was walking along Wabash and saw the restaurant Eve and I said, “Wow, I wish I could open a French restaurant here because the location is very good. The restaurant is big, but it is not so big and it is not so small. And I thought to myself, I would like to open a French bistro, but more like a modern bistro with friendly prices.
I went to see Matt [Fisher, the owner], and I said, “Listen, Matt, I have the right concept.” In the beginning, he said, “No, no, no.” One day, I brought the business plan, the menu, the story, the vision, and I said to him, “You know what, you are going to keep it, and in two or three days, call me. We’ll have a meeting together and I will get back everything.” He said, “No.” I insisted. And he talked to his partner, John Ward. John said, “Of course. I was a big fan of Martial. I used to go to One Sixtyblue all the time.”
After Matt spoke to his partner, he called me. I think a lot of journalists called Matt and asked what he was going to do with Eve—close, or change the concept? Matt said, “I am talking to Martial.” And I believe that a lot of people said, “Wow, it would be difficult to find better than Marital in Chicago.” And the guy called me and said, “I want to see you now. We are going to open a restaurant.” I said, “Wow, you always say ‘no’ to me. It’s the last week, and you are going to close.” He said, “Yes. My partner loves you.”
OK, we were in business. We signed the agreement together. Everyone put some money, and we are equal partners—33 1/3 each. I think Matt didn’t believe, and now, trust me, he believes—because the restaurant is packed every night.
Did anything surprise you?
One surprise: I cannot believe the [following] that I have from One Sixtyblue and Café des Architectes. There are so many repeat customers already. Every night, there are about 40-45 [repeat] customers.
What are your favorite dishes?
My favorite dish now is the lamb shank. I like the tuna tartare. I love chicken because it is my favorite dish that I order when I go to France. My father is crazy about chicken. When we go to restaurants together in France, the first thing we do is order chicken. We love chicken. And I love the whitefish. We get a lot, a lot, of good reviews for the whitefish.
I understand your wife works at the restaurant.
My wife is the best. I am lucky. She is here very Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. She has her own business. My wife works in the restaurant, Matt’s wife works in the restaurant, John works in the restaurant. We are like a family. The restaurant is busy, and I am so happy. I am so proud of my staff. They are doing a great job.
Any special dishes coming?
Soon, I am going to do oxtail, but more like I’m doing the lamb shank, [which is] more like a roulade. I will also use carrot purée, carrot, and licorice. That’s the new dish I am working on.
I’m working on some rabbit rillettes, too. Also—you are going to think I’m crazy—I am working on escargots that will look like pommes frites, but it will be escargots inside. It will be crispy like french fries, and inside, there will be escargot. And there will garlic butter in the ramekin. They will be breaded with Parmesan and bread crumbs. It will be very nice.
Photograph: Anna Knott