It was one of those steamy August nights, in a town teeming with visitors with parking at full capacity. Reginald and I had a later evening reservation at one of the new additions to Cape May’s restaurant scene, Maison Bleue Bistro. It’s classically French, right down to the background music, and features three different and intimate dining areas. The restaurant is inhabiting a sweet Victorian on Mansion Street, tucked behind Collier’s Liquor Store, and the parking is just steps away from the bustle of Washington Street Mall.
At the helm of the restaurant are Sandy and John Vizzone, who also own The Hugh Boutique B&B on Washington Street. Their award-winning restaurant, Jardin at The Hugh is a fantastic spot, with Chef Michael Schultz, who collaborated extensively with the Vizzones to create Maison Bleue’s menu. Schultz has an incredible resume and solid street cred at the likes of The Ebbitt Room and George Pepin’s Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia. (Side note: I highly recommend Jardin for a distinctive single-seating dining experience!)
Maison Bleue is a BYOB restaurant, conveniently close to Collier’s Liquors, and they have collaborated with the culinary team of Executive Chef/Partner Anthony DePasquale and Chef de Cuisine Garrett Thompson. Reginald stopped into Collier’s first and talked to their wine expert about a pairing for our forthcoming dinner. I’m not so sure this was necessary since he was going to get a Cabernet Sauvignon no matter what.
We were seated at a comfy four-top in the front dining room, essentially an enclosed sunroom. There were about six tables in this section, nicely spaced and cozy. Our waitress opened our wine and told us about the specials, all of which sounded delicious. We had already decided what we were going to order but to clarify, Maison Bleue offers a prix-fixe menu, a menu served daily, and a Weekly Specials menu.
For our entrées (the proper French term for appetizers, salads, and soups), Reginald chose the classic Vichyssoise. This was a sublime amalgam of sautéed and pureed leeks, potatoes, onions, and cream. It was served as hoped, chilled, and garnished with chopped chives. Surprisingly, Vichyssoise was only developed in the early 20th by Louis Diat, a French-born cook who was the head chef at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York, and likely a derivation of traditional and rustic French potato soup.
My entrée was the Duck Confit. Oh, my. A delicious tender leg (skin on and verrrry crispy) and served with port wine cherry jam and cippolini onion bits. This, from first bite to last, was an absolute triumph. I would not hesitate to order two portions and call it a Plat Principal, or Main Dish. Note that there is a healthy selection of entrées, including Prime steak tartare, Fisherman’s Eggs, and Lemon-herb Grilled Oysters. Whenever possible, Maison Bleue uses locally sourced ingredients. Love that.
For his Plat principal, Sir Reginald ordered the Coq au Vin (using the proper pronunciation), which is one of his all-time favorite French dishes. A very generous portion of slow-roasted chicken thighs in a rich, flavorful mirepoix and seasoned with a delicate blend of herbs.
My Plat Principal was an easy choice: Day Boat Scallops with local Woodsong mushrooms served on fennel blanquette—or white fennel. The scallops were pan-seared, and the mushrooms and fennel were perfectly complementary. I shared a scallop with Reginald (which I would not do again) and he declared his scallop a correction of every scallop he’d ever eaten. Since that meal, I’ve made pan-seared approximately six times!
Among the other Plat Principal offerings, there is a little something for every taste, including Duck l’orange, Waygu cheeseburger, Steak Frites, Moules (mussels) Frites, and local Fluke.
Now, on to dessert. If you’ve followed my foray into reviewing Cape May restaurants over these eight years or so, you might recall that Crème Brûlée has been our most cherished delicacy ever and ordered each and every time it appears on a menu. Maison Bleue’s version of all the versions we’d tried in this county, was hands down the best. A perfect crack of the burnt sugar crust, and the custard (also known as Trinity cream) was nicely chilled and creamy cream creamy.
There are only pros and plusses for Maison Bleue Bistro. Service, selection, location, atmosphere, and an easy reservation process from their website using Table Agent. But wait, there’s more! There’s also parking on site, and they also have cool t-shirts for sale that support the conservation of sea turtles.
So, if you are looking for a French bistro experience, try Maison Bleue, because it’s way more economical than flying to Paris!