RED BANK: O BISTRO TAKEOUT? MAIS OUI!

The former Red Bank Pizza storefront on Bridge Avenue has been reincarnated as the to-go counter of O Bistro Francais. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

When chef Marc Fontaine opened O Bistro Francais in Red Bank a year ago, local gourmets rejoiced at the return of top-quality French cooking after a six-year absence from town.

Now, Fontaine has turned the disused former storefront pizzeria end of his Bridge Avenue restaurant into a takeout counter to supplement the linen-napkin dining room. And once again, Francophile eaters are over the moon.

Not your typical pizzeria menu board. Below, a croque-monsieur blanketed in bechamel sauce and lightly browned at O Bistro. (Photo below by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge.)

“The last time I had a a croque-monsieur, it was in Lyon, and this was just as good,” lawyer Richard Bennett told redbankgreen after devouring one of the bechamel-sauce covered ham sandwiches at the window counter of what was previously Red Bank Pizza.

He and Susan Cook, regulars in the O Bistro dining room, had driven down from Matawan on the takeout area’s first day last week to immediately sample the offerings.

“There’s nothing like this within, I don’t know, an hour’s drive?” he said.

The idea may at first seem incongruous: gourmet takeout? But why not, said Fontaine, when customers can’t get enough of what you havee to offer?

Like its long-gone predecessor, O Bistro offers a variety of pizzas, though with a decidedly French twist: pizza au jambon (pizza with ham, $7.50), and pizza au saumon fumé (smoked salmon, $8.50), for example.

Also on the menu: a chicken, brie, arugula and honey mustard crepe for $7; combos of soup-and-bacon quiche, or soup-and-goat-cheese-salad ($9.50); and an array of sandwiches and salads.

O Bistro Francais, at 15 Bridge Avenue. offers a three-course prix-fixe dinner fort $37 on Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday. The restaurant is BYOW, with a nice selection of wines available across the street at Crate’s Liquors.

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