The first look inside Fleur Bistro

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A week after Fleur Bistro opened its doors, owner Bart Jones is starting to get back to normal.

"Last week, I could barely talk," he recalls. "I think I slept an hour the night before the opening."

Jones and head chef Nate Boothe are serving casual American cuisine at Fleur, tweaking it along the way with culinary influences from wherever the map takes Boothe.

"It's southern, eastern, western and I've kind of collaborated it all and brought it here," says Boothe, who spent most of his formative years at Trulucks in Southlake, Texas serving 500 dinners a night. Fleur provides him with a much more intimate setting.

"I can put my hand on every plate and I love that," notes Boothe. "I've been running my own kitchen for ten years now, but this is the first time I've had a full grasp on every piece of food out there."

A salad with Colorado-sourced Gorgonzola and pears poached in pinot noir share the menu with a "two-way" steak and tuna tartar. "I try to let the food talk for itself. There are not a lot of ingredients on the plate, but the ingredients that are on the plate are the best we can buy right now. If I'm back there playing around with something, and it comes together, I throw it on for the night and see how it rolls."

The food matches the decor -- simple and high-quality. The restaurant inhabits what was once a flower shop; clean, white columns and engravings highlight the room. "The concept kind of came out of the space," says Jones. "It's romantic and Victorian, and once we got the space we thought, why not do a bistro?" But fist he needed to define what it was, exactly, that he wanted from a bistro. "It's that little local neighborhood spot with good wine and good atmosphere where you want to go every week," he concludes, adding that "We want to be the place where people go when they're thinking they have a hot date on Friday night."

We had a date with Fleur a few nights ago, the photos of which can be seen on the following page.

Yellow and red organic roasted beets topped with creamy Boursin cheese, arugula and red peppers and finished in a pinot grigio vinegar dressing. An early top seller, the baked peppadews stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and served with wasabi aioli, is a perfect combination of sweet peppers, mellow cheese, and crispy, salty prosciutto. A portabello mushroom braised in olive oil infused with thyme and sage, stuffed with shrimp and Gouda cheese and served over a tomato and tomatillo sauce. "The good thing about braising mushrooms is it keeps its size and it keeps its flavor," says Boothe. Organic, grass fed short ribs braised for seven to eight hours in pinot noir and served over a blueberry compote accompanied by roasted sunchokes finished with truffle oil. The crispy exterior gives way to smoky and tender meat. Boothe describes sunchokes as a cross between artichoke hearts and potatoes. Colorado lamb chops over a wine and blueberry reduction. The quaint Victorian bar at Fleur.

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