Contrary to what you see on TV, chefs and restaurant folks can often be reluctant to brag about their success. So, when I ask chef Madalyn Durrant about how the first week at the newly opened Bar Parisette has gone, she demurs and says it’s been going pretty well. GM Diana Benati immediately jumps in to correct the record: “The first four days have been almost alarmingly good,” she says. The new French bistro is a re-concept of attagirl, and is serving an intriguing menu of seasonal dishes along with one of the best-priced wine programs in town.

Durrant most recently did time at Webster’s Wine Bar, where she kept up that restaurant’s reputation as a below-the-radar gem. In a year that has been filled with new French restaurants serving very similar menus, Durrant wants to revise the definition of what a bistro is and bring it back to what modern French cooking actually looks like right now. “French bistro cuisine is not so much about a regionality, as it is about an ethos. It’s affordable, it’s simple, it’s well prepared and it’s technique driven,” she explains. “The more modern bistros in Paris are having a moment that new American cuisine had a while back and are incorporating a lot of flavors from around the world.” Put another way; “We aren’t intending to reflect the American stereotype of bistro food, but more what is currently being produced in the bistros of France.” So you’ll still see some classics like steak frites and moules frites, but rather than a never-changing menu of classics, expect a much more dynamic list of dishes that reflect the seasons. As owner and sommelier Matthew Sussman puts it, “We don’t have French onion soup on the menu, because there’s no point in eating it in July!”

Sussman, who diners may know from Table, Donkey and Stick, is in charge of the wine program at Bar Parisette and has created a value proposition that’s sure to entice neighborhood residents and wine geeks alike. Most wine lists show a markup of between three to four times a wine’s retail price (and some go as high as five times), but Bar Parisette is committed to serving wine at retail, plus a small percentage to cover service. “We’ve already had responses from people who are blown away by what they are getting for their money,” Sussman says. “Anyone can look things up on their phone; it’s annoying to spend $80 on a bottle of wine that is $23 at retail. The hope is that people will recognize that.”

Durrant’s menu is filled with little treasures that go perfectly with the wine. Roast chicken, usually not a place for much innovation, is served with a side of carrot juice caramel, which is made by replacing the water normally used in caramel with carrot juice, along with a little side of refreshing radishes and snap peas. A dish labeled “sunflowers” features the blossom in multiple ways, including sunchokes (the root), toasted sunflower seed powder, and sunflower shoots, which I’d never seen on a menu before. The combination is served with yellow wax beans and topped with marigold flowers for a dish that just screams summer. Tomato farcie, a classic French dish but one that rarely appears on American bistro menus, combines lamb merguez with roasted eggplant, couscous, and spices inside of a beefsteak tomato, which is then roasted and topped with a rose petal and mint gremolata. “There’s a distinction to be drawn between classic and obvious,” explains Durrant. “This stuff is still classic, but not yet overdone.”

With respect to the bistro standards, don’t expect too many twists and turns. Steak frites is served with a simple peppercorn mustard cream sauce, exactly the way that Durrant makes the dish for herself at home. She says: “My approach with these things, rather than ‘elevating’ them, is just to make what I want to eat.”