232 Woodbine Ave.
Overall: Margot is a lively neighborhood restaurant with original, creative cuisine that belies the location. Although an early visit showed a few flaws, this restaurant should quickly blossom into one of the finest area BYOBs.
Food: Margot claims to be modern-American with flavors that promise bold innovation, and the food delivers. The starter we tried — “Sweet Potato Pancakes” ($8), which appeared in a tower with caramelized apples and chipolte & chive sour creams — was an excellent blend of flavors and textures. The sweetness of the apples paired beautifully with the spicy chipolte cream, and the crispy on the outside/soft on the inside potatoes melted in the mouth.
The “Duck of the Day” ($23), a confit-style grilled duck breast with tequila lime glaze served on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus, was simple but excellently prepared and completely tasty; the slightly sweet, crispy skin matched especially well with the creamy, pungent potatoes. I was slightly disappointed in the “Pork Medalliions in Shiraz Reduction” ($17), served with creamy Asiago polenta, sauteed haricot verts and pine nuts, but only because the menu’s description had me expecting greatness. I did find excellence in the polenta, but the pork was a tad bland, and, although I am a big believer in quality over quantity when it comes to food, I was shocked at how little pork this dish included — just two thin, tiny medallions. (For comparision, the plate of duck came with three times as much meat.) Regardless, the dish was enjoyable, especially when combining pork, polenta and reduction in the same bite. I might also nitpick that the hard tips of the haricot verts (green beans) were not trimmed, creating a little bit of friction in my mouth; this seems like a detail that should have been handled in the kitchen.
While we did not sample the Whole Wheat Linguini with sun-dried tomatoes, wild mushrooms, peas and asparagus in a light cream sauce ($19), Margot scores points for offering the healthier whole wheat pasta option.
Lastly, we tried the Ghirardelli chocolate challah bread ($6), which was probably the best bread pudding I’ve ever eaten (although, honestly, that is not saying too much). The rich chocolate, slight spices, whipped cream and warm (though it could have been a tad warmer) bread made a wonderful combination. The only shame is that there wasn’t any fine espresso to go along with it (just average drip coffee).
Ambiance: Although Margot describes itself as “intimate and candle-lit”, it is better pictured as a bustling neighborhood bistro. Neatly designed with bold colors, an open kitchen and white tablecloths, it is great for a upscale but casual night out. It is rather loud when full — only a problem when seeking out a quiet evening — and there are a few bad tables, especially for two people. (Avoid at all costs the table that is bordered by the front door, the waiter station and the bathrooms.)
It should also be noted that there is a porch out front for finer weather, which should be quite pleasant, especially with the quiet neighborhood location. That same location, however, makes it quite difficult to find adequate parking (only street is available), so plan accordingly.
Service: Staff is extremely friendly and dilligent, if a bit inexperienced. Margot herself also stopped by to say hello, which certainly added a personal touch not always available at even the smallest restaurants. There were a few minor flaws — we were never brought a bread basket even though the table next to us received two, and it took a little to long to have our wine opened, but nothing took much away from the experience.
Value: Starters are $7-10 and entrees run from $15 (meatloaf) to $27 (Filet). Factoring in the creativity, presentation and quality of food, the entrees are priced appropriately, and the BYOB factor makes this an excellent value. Expect to pay around $30-40 per person, depending, which — based on the quality of experience — is a mighty fine deal in our book.
# of times we’ve eaten there: 1
web: http://margotbyob.com (cool site!)