Slowly but surely, downtown Bridgeport is making a comeback these days.  After years of lacking good cuisine to anchor the area, a few brave restauranteurs are committed to changing that.  We love Ralph and Rich’s for a standard Italian fare and of course, a great drink at the bar.  But more and more these days, we are looking for something a little less standard.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending some time at Bistro B and their sister restaurant, Barnum Publick House.  We first stopped at the Barnum Publick House for a drink and a few appetizers.  This is the more casual establishment of the two restaurants. The Barnum Publick House is the perfect “go to” bar to have some great cocktails, craft beers, and a plethora of wines. They have good old fashioned pub food that has some extra pizzazz to change it up a bit.

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The Bridgeporter – Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon, Vermouth, IPA Foam

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So Clutch – Cucumber Vodka, Dry Vermouth, Pickle Juice
Moon Goddess – Onyx Moonshine, Lime, Pineapple, Arugula

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Barnum’s robust craft beer list

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Lump Crab Cakes – Warm Corn Relish, Lemon Tartar Sauce

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Stonington Calamari – Spicy Flour, Sweet Chili Sauce

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Short Rib Nachos – Jalapeno, Tomato, Cheese Sauce, Sour Cream, House Potato Chips

After enjoying some great drinks, in particular the Bridgeporter, we headed next door to Bistro B.  The first thing you notice when you walk into Bistro B is the French bistro feel. They really hit the nail on the head when it comes to the decor.  The bright white marble bar ties it all together. 

We started out sitting at the bar, trying out a few of the different small plates.  The first appetizer that came out was the House Cured Salmon.  I would describe it as salmon carpaccio that was served with a great horseradish mustard creme.  Adding the creme is a must, as the two are meant to complement each other nicely.

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House Cured Salmon – Star Anise Pickles, Horseradish Mustard Creme, Brown Bread

The next two plates to come out were the Chicken Lollipops and the BLT Sliders.  The “Lollipops” are the drumsticks of the chicken.  The house made barbecue sauce had a nice flavor, but the chicken was a bit overcooked on this particular evening.  The Sliders brought together pork belly, Roma tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and maple aioli.  Any time I have the opportunity to have a good dish with pork belly, I’m happy.  These little teasers were a great warm up for the larger plates.

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Chicken “Lollipops” – House Made BBQ Glaze, Best Blue Cheese Dressing

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BLT Sliders – Braised Pork Belly, Roma Tomato, Iceberg, Maple Aoli

The next plate that came out was one of the “garden plates”.  The Lambs Lettuce was a dainty plate of baby lettuce, hummus and crispy artichokes.  Artichokes are one of our favorite things and these were flash fried to perfection.  They were crispy and not oily, as can often happen. This dish was a great segue to the larger plates that followed.

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Lambs Lettuce – Crispy Artichokes, Roasted Garlic Hummus

Now for the main courses, which did not disappoint.   The first entree to come out was the Potato and Onion Encrusted Halibut.  The sauce on this was exceptional.  It was a well balanced dish that incorporated forest mushrooms, asparagus, and truffle.  In addition, the crust on the fish brought a great texture to the dish.

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Potato & Onion Encrusted Halibut – Forest Mushroom Ragout, Asparagus Tips, Truffle

The Pork Schnitzel was a nice blend of thinly cut pork prepared in the traditional schnitzel style with a mustard honey jus. With a side of cucumber salad, the acidity of the mustard was balanced out with the freshness of the cucumber.

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Pork Schnitzel – Cucumber Salad, Mustard Honey Pan Roast

The next two entrees were my favorites…

The roasted hangar steak was cooked perfectly, in the tradition of Steak-Frites, a staple of any French bistro.  To top off this beautiful steak, the chef roasted pears that melted in your mouth.  It added a touch of sweetness to a savory dish.

The last entree was the “Chicken Fried Chicken”.  This was, as the name suggests, the chef’s take on classic fried chicken.  This was an overwhelming success as the chicken was perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. The black pepper gravy was a great accent to the chicken, as were the cinnamon spiced baby carrots.

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Roasted Hangar Steak – Pomme Frites, Roasted Pears, Glazed Yellow Wax Beans

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“Chicken Fried Chicken” – Crispy Amish Chicken Breast, Black Pepper Gravy, Cinnamon Spiced Baby Carrots

To top off our meal, we had a nice duo plate of butterscotch pudding and the flourless chocolate cake.  I always love a good butterscotch pudding, and this was definitely a good one. The chocolate cake with the vanilla gelato is a delectable choice for any choco-holic, like Cristina.  As an added bonus, they even included a homemade madeleine, which was superb.  It was another friendly reminder of the French bistro vibe that Bistro B is trying to deliver on.  I look forward to making a trip back to try some of the other dishes that I didn’t get to have this time around.

Whether you are looking to have a glass of wine and a couple of small plates or a bottle of wine and full meal, Bistro B is a great option if you are in the downtown Bridgeport area.  If you are feeling a little more casual, check out Barnum Publick House.

Bistro B

Website: www.bistrob.net

Address: 1006 Broad Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604

Phone: (203) 908-4224

Do they take reservations?  Yes

Attire? Business Casual

Vibe?  Trendy, Chic

Hours: Tue – Sat: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Barnum Publick House

Website: www.barnumpublickhouse.com

Address: 1020 Broad Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604

Phone: (203) 690-1044

Do they take reservations?  Yes

Attire? Casual

Vibe?  Modern pub

Kitchen Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11:30 am – 9:30 pm, Fri – Sat: 11:30 am – 10:30 pm, Sunday Brunch: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

-Jeff