Dining Review: French American Bistro serves up both hits and misses

Homemade croissants, baguettes and smoked salmon hit the mark, ham and cheese crepes miss

Homemade Quiche Lorraine, with Bacon, Cheese, Eggs and Cream, served with a side salad.  French American Bistro is located at  1201 Piper Blvd in Naples and is open seven days a week from 11am until 9pm.  Photographed on April 11, 2011.  Kelli Stanko/Special to the Daily News

Photo by KELLI STANKO // Buy this photo

Homemade Quiche Lorraine, with Bacon, Cheese, Eggs and Cream, served with a side salad. French American Bistro is located at 1201 Piper Blvd in Naples and is open seven days a week from 11am until 9pm. Photographed on April 11, 2011. Kelli Stanko/Special to the Daily News

Address: 1201 Piper Blvd., No. 11, Naples, (239) 514-1800; delivery, (239) 949-7117

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day

Cuisine: French and American

Beverages: Sodas, iced tea, beer, wine

Prices: Meals range from $7.25 to $14.95, with most hot and cold sandwiches less than $10 and entrees between $10 and $15.

Atmosphere: Charming bistro with ample space and red-checkered tablecloths inside, as well as a patio area outside shaded by large umbrellas.

— Fresh, homemade baguettes and croissants stand out above all else at French American Bistro, along with smoked salmon entrees and French onion soup.

But ham and cheese crepes were more miss than hit, and service, while friendly both times, was inconsistent: Very slow on one lunch trip and decent the next.

Overall, after two lunches at this charmingly decorated bistro restaurant, I’d go again and give them another try, ordering certain items and avoiding others — and if I was in a hurry to get back to work, I’d definitely order take out.

A friend told us about the restaurant’s homemade bread, so on our first trip my friend and I both ordered baguette sandwiches.

I chose the mountain baguette ($8.95) with imported prosciutto, lettuce, tomato, gherkins (similar to pickles) and Swiss, but asked for it without the gherkins, as I don’t like them. The bread had a good crunchy crust and the sandwiches were about a foot long with a generous portion of prosciutto and sliced Swiss. The lettuce was chopped small and cherry tomatoes cut in half. My only complaint was that it was a little dry — no mayo or dressing. I’d order it again but ask for oil or mayo on the bread. It came with a small salad of chopped lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion and a vinaigrette dressing.

My friend had the Scandinavian baguette ($9.45), which is homemade smoked salmon, slices of cucumber, chive cream cheese and lettuce. This sandwich really stood out. The salmon had a great smoky taste without being overly salty, and was balanced by the rich chive cream cheese, and surrounded by the crusty bread. It was one of the items we’d order again in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, on our first trip the service was slow. It took us about an hour and a half to eat lunch, including soup, sandwich and dessert. The soup and dessert were especially slow to come out. Two servers were helping us, and they seemed not to be communicating very well — asking us the same questions when the other person had already asked. When we first arrived the lights flickered — it was a rainy day — and they had to use manual credit card scanners, so we wondered if they had power trouble to worry about.

For soup, we tried both chicken vegetable ($2.95) and French onion ($4.75). The chicken vegetable was hearty and not overly salty, simple but nothing special. The French onion arrived in a little crock with melted cheese that was crunchy on the outside and soft toward the middle. Inside, fresh bread cubes and onions gave the beef broth substance and flavor.

On our next trip, the service was much faster. Just one server helped us this time, and she was responsive when we decided to add a soup at the last minute. Our food came out much faster as well.

We tried the salmon quiche ($9.45) with salmon, spinach, eggs and cream. It arrived in a little pie shell about 6 inches across. The crust was buttery and flaky, and the quiche was layered with about an inch-layer of egg, a small layer of spinach and smoked salmon. It was a great mix of slightly sweet and savory flavors, with the pastry crust, egg and cream balancing out the smoky flavor of the salmon. This entree was another hit.

My friend was very excited to try crepes, and decided on the ham-and-cheese crepes ($8.95) which are topped with a cheese sauce and bread crumbs. The crepes arrived in a small baking dish, but were so covered in cheese it was hard to even see how many there were. Eating a forkful, we found it difficult to taste or feel the crepe itself — it was lost in the gooey consistency of melted cheese, which was only broken up by the cubed pieces of ham. The cheese flavor was great, but the amount of cheese inside and on top of the crepes was overpowering.

For dessert, we tried the apple tart ($3.95), which arrived in the same size and shape pastry that the salmon quiche had been cooked in. It was warm, with a dollop of homemade whipped cream on the side. Biting in, we found the apples were well cooked but not mushy. We both decided we’d order this again, and enjoyed the fact it seemed to be less sugary than traditional American apple pie.

Finally, both times we ordered croissants ($2.50) to go. They were delicious both times — light, buttery and flaky. They’d make for a great sandwich.

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