L’ardoise (l’ ak-dwaaz): blackboard/chalkboard — where restaurants in Europe write their specials
L’ardoise is a charming bistro tucked away in a mostly residential neighborhood on Noe street. The deep burgundy exterior, the plants, and the dim yellow lighting from within exudes a quiet, unpretentious charm from the facade. The moment you walk in and push through the black fabric at the door, you’ll be swept away by the intimate mood with a relatively formal bistro decor. The red wine walls, the dark wood paneling, the clustered tables all paint a old-school Parisian theme. The space was used wisely, with a small bar serving wine and snacks giving diners a peek of the action in the kitchen through the tiny window.
As for the food, we started off with the beet salad with arugula and goat cheese — a bed of arugula sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese and cubed beets. The plate was peppered with some sort of spice (not quite sure what the spice was or its connection to the salad). This particular dish was simple and refreshing to the palate. The goat cheese coats your tongue leaving subtle savoriness that enhances the sweetness of the beets. Each component of this dish meshed well together.
Second appetizer – escargot with garlic sauce foie gras salad. The escargot was cooked just right with a bit of bounce, however; I find this dish disappointing for the following reasons: the foie gras was absent from the dish, well, not literally. When I read the description on the menu, I imagined the foie gras would be the star of the dish, not smears of it mixed in the dressing. Skip.
Moving on to the entrees – Instead of ordering their blackboard specials, I opted for the Crispy Skin Chicken. Roasted garlic jus base, spinach over the pureed potatoes and topped with a hearty portion of the crispy skin chicken breast. I liked this dish a lot, a lot. The chicken was done right, within one bite you can tell they allowed it time to let the connective tissues gelatinize to prevent that stringy texture and the skin was oh-so crispy. The roasted garlic jus was a lovely counter to the pureed potatoes and chicken.
Second entree- L’ardoise’s signature dish, the Coq au vin (‘rooster in wine’). Essentially, this classic French dish is braised in red wine, mirepoix (celery, carrots and onions), peppercorn, thyme, parsley, and etc. for hours till all the connective tissues are broken down. Though I only had a few bites, I recall the meat was off-the-bone tender and stained with rich flavors it was braised in. Just writing this is inspiring me to replicate it at home!
Verdict – I had a wonderful experience here and would go back in a heart beat. There’s so much more on the menu I wanted to try; the sea bass, the hanger steak, the filet, the tiger prawn ravioli, oh my, I could go on!
Address: 151 Noe St
(between 15th St & Henry St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Executive Chef and owner: Thierry Clement, born and raised in France. Former chef of Fringale.
Service: Friendly, welcoming and professional.
Signature dish: Coq au vin
Decor: Intimate, cozy, and warm