Chef Ty Leon had been working on perfecting his pie crust for years, and he turned to his grandmother's recipe to get it just right. After some careful experimentation, he made one change: He increased the amount of butter, something a grandmother would surely approve of. Now Leon is opening Bistro Georgette, a new eatery inside Avanti Food & Beverage (3200 Pecos Street) that specializes in French street food, including sweet and savory hand pies made using that buttery crust.
Bistro Georgette is the project of Leon, who just came off a three-year stint as executive chef at Mizuna, and two former Mizuna colleagues, Heather Morrison and Austin Carson. Morrison rose to service manager after eleven years at the upscale Governor's Park restaurant, while Carson was general manager and sommelier. With Bistro Georgette, they've put together a menu of craveable French bites, starting with hand pies stuffed with beef bourguignon or wild mushrooms, and also including a croque madame on brioche dripping with creamy Mornay sauce, crispy potato croquettes stuffed with shredded coq au vin, and classic steamed mussels in a buttery sauce sided with waffle-cut potato chips.
Other house specialties include a Lyonnaise salad with bacon and a poached egg; jambon-buerre, the quintessential French ham sandwich; and a fried-chicken plate with pain perdu (that's French toast to Americans) and syrup. For dessert there's a chocolate eclair piped with vanilla creme, or a traditional tart tatin, a type of pie that's cooked upside down in a pan before being flipped onto a platter to expose the caramelized fruit. Leon is using Palisade peaches for opening week, but will likely phase into apples as fall approaches.
Leon says that he wants to maintain the high standards he practiced while at Mizuna, while offering a different style of food: "It's stuff we like to cook when we're cooking for friends."
As part of Avanti's incubator series, Bistro Georgette takes over the space previously occupied by the Regional (which is moving to Fort Collins under chef Kevin Grossi) on the ground floor of the food hall. Leon says the goal is to eventually open a brick-and-mortar version of the bistro, possibly even before the food counter's lease is up in two years.
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Until then, the chef's pie crust will be a big part of the Bistro Georgette experience. "I used to make pot pie for family meal [at Mizuna]," Leon explains. "That's how it all started — purely out of boredom."
But since then, he's taken inspiration from other bakers to create beautiful geometric patterns on the top crusts of his pies, which he bakes in black-carbon sauté pans. Using circular cutters and a chitarra (a stringed pasta slicer named for its resemblance to a guitar), Leon weaves and layers intricate shapes on top of fruit fillings. Some of those artistic creations will be on display in a pie case on the counter as daily specials.
Bistro Georgette debuts on Wednesday, August 8, at Avanti, which works with individual vendors to come up with beverage pairings for each dish. The bar recommends Carboy Côtes du Rhône red blend to go with the savory hand pies, a Prost German-style dunkel with the croquettes, a New Belgium sour saison with the mussels, and an updated rendition of a White Russian alongside the chocolate eclair.