It's easy for French food to feel as tired as the stuff served to tourists on the Champs-Élysées. But not at Bistro Barbès, an unassuming French restaurant that opened last year in the heart of Park Hill, a neighborhood hungry for good food — and they definitely got it with this place. Chef-owner Jon Robbins has no interest in serving straight-up steak frites and sole meunière. Instead, he marries French technique with the sights, smells and flavors of the real France, a country where he lived and cooked for three years, a country populated by North African immigrants who have an approach to food beyond the five mother sauces. So at Bistro Barbès preserved lemons are as much a staple as veal stock, sweetbreads come in the form of p'stilla, and salads range from kale-based Niçoise to tabbouleh. What remains classic here, though, is technique: Robbins, a Mizuna alum, has a solid foundation, and it shows in every tender strand of housemade pasta, every perfectly cooked steak, every luscious beurre blanc.
Readers' choice: Le Central