Charming is the word that comes to mind when arriving at Comtesse Therese Bistro in Aquebogue. Extraordinary is the word I’d choose to describe it after having a meal there.
The Comtesse Therese Winery added a French bistro almost three years ago when Chef Arie Pavlou set up his kitchen and began cooking classical French dishes with local ingredients.
We began with a glass of Comtesse Therese Russian Oak Chardonnay, which was slightly sweet and very mellow with an easy, pleasant finish. It went perfectly with our meal, which started off with fresh-from-the-oven French rolls, sprinkled with fresh herbs—oregano, thyme and marjoram.
Next, Chef surprised us with a traditional French delicacy—escargot. If you’ve never had the opportunity to try escargot (yes, I’m talking about snails) I would recommend you give Chef Pavlou’s a try. Cooked with butter, garlic and fresh herbs the plump morsels of snail were moist, tender and just about melted in my mouth.
The heady flavor of garlic and butter mix with the earthy flavor of the escargot to create a tasty mouthful.
Next we tried a baby octopus and mesclun salad with zesty lemon vinaigrette. The octopus was cooked perfectly, the edges crispy-crunchy and the meat inside tender. The lemon zing from the dressing paired wonderfully with the octopus, and I loved the fresh herbs Chef used, giving the salad a very refreshing quality.
Continuing our bistro journey, Chef treated us to his pan-seared Hudson Valley Moulard foie gras, served with a delectable morel mushroom sauce. This duck liver was easily the best I’ve ever eaten, cooked and seasoned with such skill and care— its buttery texture had me closing my eyes, as I ascended to foodie heaven.
For the next course, we tried two soups. The tomato and Asiago cheese soup with sliced almonds was topped with a fabulous dome of flaky puff pastry. As you break through the pastry, a blast of tomato and cheese aroma gets your mouth watering.
It’s tomato soup for the adult diner, and we enjoyed every bite. We also tried the soup du jour, featuring fresh asparagus from the farmstand just down the road. The soup had the essence of asparagus and was surprisingly light for a cream soup. There were adorable discs of asparagus that were incredibly delicious floating throughout. Topped with a fat stalk of tender asparagus and served in a white porcelain bowl, the soup was beautiful to look at and my pleasure to eat.
For our main courses, we chose the Crescent Farms crispy duck leg and the lamb shank confit. Chef gets his duck fresh from the neighboring Crescent Duck Farm. The skin was perfectly crisp, and had that wow factor when it hit my taste buds—another blissful foodie moment. Served with that delectable asparagus was a tower of rich and creamy scalloped potatoes. The lamb shank was tender and full of flavor, nearly falling off the bone and was paired with an earthy, rich Madeira sauce.
As if all that French food wasn’t enough, there was dessert. Chef makes his own mint chocolate chip ice cream from the fresh mint that grows all around the bistro. It was the best mint chocolate chip ice cream I’ve ever eaten. It was like a crescendo of mint in my mouth, and I’m sure I’ll be daydreaming of it.
We tried the tart du jour, which had fresh, local blueberries and a crust made with almond paste, served with fresh whipped cream. It was delicious: the blueberries bursting in my mouth, paired with a nutty, crunchy pastry crust and pure, delicious whipped cream. The apple tarte tatin was French pastry perfection—a tower of tender apples atop a smooth shortbread crust, served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a fragrant mint garnish.
The apples were warm with flavors of cinnamon and vanilla, and a drizzle of caramel lent a hint of nuttiness. Chef also had us taste the housemade chocolate truffle ice cream, which was quite simply ice cream perfection, and I would buy it buy the gallon if he sold it. Rich, creamy, smooth and decadently chocolate, you simply must try it.
We didn’t go home empty handed—Chef also makes chocolate truffles that are sold by the quarter pound. I saved them for later, when I need some French-inspired comfort.
This restaurant is sure to be a staple on the North Fork for many years to come.
For more information on Comtesse Therese Bistro and Vineyard, visit comtessetherese.com.