My Seven-Course Dinner at World-Renowned Bistro de Margot

Some days food is simply food: fuel to get us through as we work, play, love, and live. Other days though… special days (like, say, when vacationing) call for elegance, extravagance, and the extraordinary in a meal. How could one achieve this? By going out on the town to an upper-crust restaurant with the most delectable cuisine (and no dirty dishes to clean). This was my experience at Bistro de Margot in Burlington, Vermont, owned by Chef Hervé Mahé. A Gold Barn Honor 2023 member, this cuisine is truly farm-to-table fresh.

As I stepped into the posh restaurant filled with flowers and candle-lit tables, the hostess led me over to a table for one. A few minutes after being seated, I received a basket of warm bread from O Bread Bakery at Shelburne Farm , and butter. Amy introduced herself as my server for the evening on this food journey through seven courses. Chef Hervé Mahé came out to greet me, and throughout the evening, he would tell me the inspirations for the dishes. On to the evening’s courses…

I ordered sparkling water and a mocktail with orange blossom syrup, lime juice, and topped with mineral water. I suggest this mocktail for those who love fresh and floral flavors.

The initial course started with a toothsome amuse-bouche: the Tomato Gazpacho. Upon initial sip, the gazpacho burst with a delightful acidic profile of seasoned unami with a hint of fresh-off-the-vine sweetness. It was my first time having gazpacho, and dear readers, this was a ten out of ten experience.

Every dining experience requires a salad and the Salade Margo was an exemplary addition. The fresh, crisp, and emerald green Boston Bibb lettuce was paired with paper-thin radishes, a precious quail egg, and a drizzle of Dijon mustard dressing. The textures and flavors played with soft and crunchy while being extremely simplistic.

Seafood emerged with the following dishes: The scallop dish consisted of single scallop nested in a savory cream-based soup with a dash of spice that elevated the dish. It was topped with a generous drizzle of oil offered an herbal note that tied this whole dish together.

Following in the next course was foie gras and lobster creme brulee, a sweet and savory coupling that surprised me. I never thought to pair these two lavish ingredients together into a creme brulee, yet I had an incredible time breaking the sugar top and digging in. Pieces of crushed pistachio and an enriched lobster essence offered a nutty component that elevated my tastebuds.

A flashback to my youth came in the form of the Oxtail, crisp with pickled vegetables in a red wine sauce. The oxtail was shaped into a pristine cube with silky meat that was cut beautifully with merely my fork. Chef Hervé Mahé reported that he shredded the oxtail from the bones and packed them into cubes overnight; then he breaded and fried them until they were a rich golden yellow, and he served them with vegetables and sauce for a robust and acidic kick. This was high on my list of favorites of the evening.

French music drifted in the air as couples came into the restaurant, and I had to admit, I was getting full on the delicious noshes! But of course, next was a dish as spectacular as the last. It was the pan-arctic char with sauteed chanterelles, buttered savoy cabbage, and Asian pear paired with a butternut squash flan and that lush red wine sauce. The pan arctic char had a well-done crust that created a satisfying crunch in my mouth. As for flavors it began mellow and transformed into a buttery taste. The vegetables and fruits were seasoned well and had a fresh crunch with each bite. The star, however, was the butternut squash flan with tiny cauliflower embedded on the top. A balance of savory and sweet made me smile, and I wish I could have more of this. This trio exhibited Chef Hervé Mahé’s knowledge of polarities and balance from flavor and texture.

A classic French dish and the final savory course of my evening was Steak Frites., a grilled hanger steak with Tomato Provencale and house-made french fries. Dark, rich, and woody is what came to mind upon first smell and the first bite of the steak. The Tomato Provencale paired as an acidic counterpoint that cut through the richness of the steak. I had a few nibbles of the fries – crispy on the outside and fluffy at the center with a hint of salt.

For the dessert course, I had another mocktail: a blend of rosemary essence, quince juice, and sparkling water, garnished with the aforementioned rosemary and a delicious gummy encrusted in sugar crystals. Upon initial sip, I could detect the floral notes, equal parts soft and welcoming. I considered this a drink fit for a princess. I even attempted to make this drink at home for friends after my visit. My favorite beverage of the evening!

Now on to the real dessert, which was a tasting palette of microscopic dishes that would satisfy any sweet tooth. The chocolate mousse with citrus meringue dance between rich cocoa flavors and a bright orange infusion. I am glad I only had a scoop of this because it was on the richer side. Switching to a fruit, I had a bite of the deconstructed lemon tart with sparkling citrus notes and a sweet edge. For a more classic French dessert, I scooped my spoon next into the Paris-Brest Revisite. This fluffy and buttery puff pastry filled with pistachio buttercream was rich and light with cream, accented with a nutty note from the pistachio. My last small bite was a duo of pear and almond in a tartlet, which had caramelized flavors and a delicious gooey texture. For a fresh and uplifting accompaniment, the pear sorbet with coriander seeds is a happily refreshing sweet sorbet with a kick from the seeds. This was truly unique while still being simple and elegant for a dessert.

My time at Bistro de Margot was unparalleled. If you’re ready to get a taste of the sweet life, you can find Bistro de Margot at 126 College Street, Burlington, Vermont, 05401.