The view at St. Tropez Bistro, 2400 Market St., a panorama of the Schuylkill River and a nice chunk of the city, is well worth the trip. Thankfully, the food from the French menu is every bit as attractive and delicious as the scenery.
We don’t eat enough vegetables, so we listened to our oft-ignored inner herbivore and tried the tarte de legumes ($10), fully expecting to be angrily chasing it through the streets later while threatening to brain it with the leg bone of a large farm animal. But we enjoyed the dish, a menagerie flavors and textures with roasted eggplant, red pepper, goat cheese tapenade and a poached egg.
Closer to the type of fruit and vegetable intake we’re used to was the peach sangria ($6), a refreshing adult beverage that starts off punchy and ends nice and sweet.
Other appetizers we sampled were equally good. The salmon tartare ($9) was a welcome change from the traditional tuna. Another welcome variation was the take on calamars ($9), which in the more-than-capable hands of the Bistro St. Tropez chefs were grilled and stuffed with house-made sausage, herbs and saffron rice. The result was superb, colorful and subtly spicy.
We had to try one of the house favorites, the feuillete de laupin ($12), a French take on a potpie filled with rabbit, mushrooms and butternut squash. The puff pastry that held the dish was flawless and the bounty inside was flavorful, rustic and a great comfort dish for the fall season.
All of these fine dishes led up to the crowning achievement of the evening, the pièce de résistance, so to speak. The espadone ($24) featured the most perfect piece of pan-seared swordfish we’ve ever had and was seasoned with just enough oregano and lemon-currant chutney to let its natural flavor shine.
Shame on us for not being more adventurous on the dessert menu but, when you’ve become as jaded about chocolate as we have, a French dessert menu isn’t the best place to seek refuge. So we opted for the apple tart ($7.50), which was uncomplicated and so damn effective in hitting the right apple, pastry and ice-creamy spots without being too sweet.
Bistro St. Tropez often offers specially priced tasting menus, and for Thanksgiving, chef Patrice Rames is offering his annual Thanksgiving feast, Le Grand Buffet, for $48 per person ($20 for kids under 12) with seatings at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. If we were looking for a place to evade all of the work involved with Thanksgiving dinner, this would be our first stop and, looking at the menu, we still might ditch our familial obligations anyway.
Bistro St. Tropez is without a doubt a feast for the eyes and the soul.