By Amy L. Schubert Food Writer Published Oct 16, 2006 at 5:40 AM Photography: Eron Laber of Front Room Photography
During our most recent dinner at Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro, 3133 E. Newberry Blvd., the moon was in full circle over the dimly lit lake, casting all the bistro’s diners into what could have very believably been the set of a classic romance film in France.

Couple that breathtaking view with exquisite French cuisine and professional, top quality service, and one can start to envision what a dinner at Lake Park Bistro is at its best.

In a transformed public pavilion in Lake Park, the Bartolotta Restaurant Group succeeds in what has arguably been their most successful endeavor to date. Long-standing Ristorante Bartolotta in Wauwatosa was a mere prelude to the opening of the Bistro, which is 10 years strong now, and was followed in the opening of Mr. B’s Steakhouse in Brookfield, and more recently, the celebrated opening of Bacchus in the former Boulevard Inn location in Cudahy Towers.

The Bistro strives for all things French, which brings to the palate traditional cuisine with elegance and very rich flavors; butter, cream and cheese and prevalent, as too are foie gras (a delicacy of fatty duck liver which was recently banned in Chicago due to uproars by animal rights activists); charcuterie, veal, lamb and duck.

On two recent dinner visits, we found both the food and the service at Lake Park Bistro to be superb. Escargot Bourguignon en Croûte (Burgundy snails in garlic butter beneath puff pastry, $9) was faultlessly prepared, with light, flaky pastry complementing the snails, bathed in butter and peppered with minced garlic, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

Assiette de Charcuterie Maison (an assortment of homemade cured, smoked, and salted meats, $12) delivered a country liver pate, a slice of dry-cured pork sausage, French cured ham, mustard, dried fruits, and cornichon pickles with bread. The diver scallop appetizer, Coquilles St. Jacques aux Artichauts ($14) was also exquisite in a basil white wine butter sauce with Roma tomatoes and braised artichoke hearts.

Chef Adam Siegel’s brilliance and his careful marriage of the cuisines of both northern and southern France continued through into the entrée selections, where we found hearty and complex contentment in the Veau Roti a la Bordelaise (veal tenderloin in a Bordelaise sauce, $34). Bordelaise is made with red wine (usually a Bordeaux), bone marrow, shallots, and demi-glace (a thick, rich brown sauce made of roux married with veal stock and slowly reduced to half), and was a lovely balance to the tender cut of Strauss veal.

The Canard “Deux Façon” a la Sauce Marchands de Vin (Duck two ways with red wine sauce, $24) featured pan seared duck breast and a confit (duck slow cooked in rendered duck fat). The confit by far outshone the duck breast, which was still excellent amidst the opulent red wine and butter sauce.

Filet mignon au poivre ($32) was the only disappointment we encountered on the menu, and not for lack of flavor or ingenuity. The filet was encrusted with peppercorns and served in a lovely green peppercorn cognac cream sauce, but was slightly overdone to a medium temperature.

Overall, however, both visits to Lake Park Bistro were exceptional. Service here is friendly and flawless, without being pretentious, and we liked that our servers did not hesitate to make recommendations on the menu.

View and ambience at the Bistro also make it ideal for a special, picture-perfect movie night out, for it features an unrivaled view of the lake and even more so, if you can catch it on the night of a full moon, you may start to dream you’ve fled Milwaukee for Le Gai Paree.

Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.

The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.

Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to OnMilwaukee.com.