618 Church Street, Evanston; 847-424-1483
You’re well within your right to demand certain baseline pleasures from a French bistro: an honest onion soup, a juicy steak, crisp frites, fresh baguettes. An establishment with fewer than three of the above doesn’t deserve your money. (An establishment somehow lacking all four would shame France.) Pascal Berthoumieux’s sweet spot in downtown Evanston gets all these details right and then aces the secondary bistro stuff—red velvet curtains, plump bouchot mussels, intense chocolate mousse. But the X factor is the gregarious Bordeaux-born owner himself. A former general manager at Kiki’s Bistro and One Sixtyblue, Berthoumieux has micromanaged every detail at his own spot, from the rolling cheese cart to the waitstaff ’s black vests. To us, a good bistro like this is a quaint little treat. To Pascal, it’s life.
TIP: Marvel at the antique tools and clogs on the wall and wonder what any of them have to do with this restaurant.
PRICE KEY: ¢ $10 to $19 $ $20 to $29 $$ $30 to $39 $$$ $40 to $49 $$$$ $50-plus
[Cost per person for dinner, excluding wine, tax, or tip]