Le Bistro

Elegant French restaurant finds a home in Downtown Huntington

By Carter Taylor Seaton

Stir together membership in a long-standing gourmet club, visits to France and her husband’s latent desire to own a bistro, and you’ve got the recipe Pam Abraham and her family followed when they decided to open Le Bistro, one of the latest entrants to the growing list of Huntington’s fine dining establishments. Located at 905 Third Ave, in one of Dr. Joseph Touma’s renovated spaces, the restaurant features a country-French contemporary menu during the day and a more elegant French Mediterranean, new-American fare in the evening.

In April 2012, The Abraham Restaurant Group began sharing their current space with the Third & Ninth Deli, opening Jason’s du Soir Bistro for nighttime dining. When the owners of the deli decided to close, they created the daytime contemporary country-French Le Bistro, as well. When Chef Jason Oesterreicher took the position of Executive Chef at Bellefonte Country Club in February, the Abrahams, General Manager Matt Stickler and the staff re-invented the restaurant almost overnight.

“Change brings a little pain, but mixed with strength, a new spirit, and determination, it can be very powerful,” Pam says with a smile.

Chef Brittany Barker is Le Bistro’s Executive Chef, a rarity for women in the restaurant world. Abraham has nothing but praise for her skills.

“She has the qualities that you need in an executive chef: control of the labor, control of the food costs, control of the quality, and she created a fabulous team,” Abraham says.

A total transformation turned the space from the combo deli/bistro into a full French bistro. With crystal chandeliers, old-fashioned stamped-tin ceilings, hand-blown glass lights, an open kitchen and comfy seating, Le Bistro begs you to watch the food preparation, linger over your meal, enjoy good conversation, soak in the original art and visit with friends.

“There’s lots of individual socializing, then suddenly it looks like it’s someone’s living room,” Abraham describes. “It’s just magical.”

One group dubbed it their “bistro club.”

During the day, aqua linens grace the gleaming tabletops. Menu selections range from wraps, small plates, soups, salads and sandwiches to hot plates like Turkey Tetrazzini or Shrimp & Grits. At night, the white cloths come out and the menu changes. Pam’s family background is French, so it’s no wonder she chose to feature that cuisine. Over the years, she’s researched old French recipes but isn’t tied tightly to that cooking style. Still highly affordable, the menu can feature filet mignon, seafood or, on weeknights, the “Bistro Special” – salad, soup, and entrée for $24.

Watching Executive Chef Brittany and Chef de Cuisine Ben Van Horn working on a new recipe is like watching two surgeons, according to Abraham.

“They’re very creative and totally up on the newest of the new,” she says. “On the weekends, they create features that aren’t on the menu.”

All meats are top of the line, fresh seafood is delivered daily and is the same as that used at the Greenbrier Resort. The other ingredients are always fresh – no prepackaged foods found here. The third creative hand in these memorable meals is Pastry Chef John Gladson. His unique tiramisu is exquisite.

Fine art is a large part of the bistro’s décor. An art student for many years at Marshall, Pam studied with the late Stan Sporny, who later became a close friend. One of his large paintings graces a front booth area, and his former wife Laura Williamson’s works hang on the walls as well. Soon, another show will replace the current one, giving regular patrons a look at some of the best work produced by the art department at Marshall.

One of those regular patrons, Jill Stevens, loves Le Bistro.

“You don’t have to get dressed up to go there; you can just come as you are,” she says. “The quality, the flavor and the presentation of the food are as good as any restaurant in a major city. They have excellent food, great service and there’s something there for everyone.”

And that includes a wine program to help you select the most complimentary wine for your meal from among their 500-bottle array.

That same quality food and sophisticated presentation also marks Le Bistro’s catering service. Chef Brittany and her team offer catering for parties and business meetings in-house at Le Bistro, at the Palms Reception Hall just around the corner or off-site. Le Bistro’s website www.lebistrowv.com has full catering information, from booking instructions to tempting photos of their offerings. 

The Abraham Restaurant Group may have started at Le Bistro with what many consider the most challenging cuisine to prepare, but the expertise of the kitchen team and the professionalism of the management staff – General Manager Matt Stickler, Manager Robert Crickard and owner Robert Abraham – make it clear, they’ve cooked up a winner.

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