Led by longtime restaurateur Alain Urbini, the French restaurant focuses on classic techniques and fresh flavors.
In a charming corner of Red Hook, Brigitte Bistro is busy transporting diners to the south of France.
Not literally, of course. Yet one taste of any of the dishes on the bistro’s menu is all it takes to understand why the eatery has quickly become a must-visit in Dutchess County’s dining scene.
It’s all thanks to principle and technique, notes owner Alain Urbini, a longtime restaurateur who worked on several restaurants in New York City, including Pitchounette 81, a charming French bistro on the Upper East Side that shuttered during the pandemic.
“It’s in my DNA,” he says of his time in the restaurant industry. Having lived in Rhinebeck for a number of years, he was already familiar with the space that now houses Brigitte Bistro, since he used to dine at Mercato Osteria Enoteca, its former inhabitant. (Mercato owner Chef Francesco Buitoni now helms GioBatta Alimentari in Tivoli.) When he saw the restaurant closed and the building was for sale, he had a vision of what the space could be. From that moment on, he worked to transform 61 E Market Street into the elegant French dining space that it is today.
Inside Brigitte Bistro
Since opening on July 1, 2021, Brigitte Bistro has made a name for itself as a refined French bistro with a focus on fresh ingredients and classical technique in the Hudson Valley.
“You have to learn from all the masters,” Urbini explains, citing culinary icons like Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller as inspiration. “School is one thing, but it takes 10 to 15 years to develop taste.”
For Urbini, taste is a critical principle of the cuisine at Brigitte Bistro. While the fare is relatively simple, in that it focuses on proteins, starches, and vegetables, it relies upon masterful preparation to ensure diners can enjoy the full scope of flavor. And indeed, what flavor there is. On the menu, French classics shine when paired with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Starting with the appetizers, the escargot en persillade glimmer in an herb-heavy garlic butter while the tartare de saumon frais et fume pairs smoked and fresh salmon tartare with an enticing horseradish crème fraiche.
As for the entrees, they rotate seasonally and highlight artful preparations. The poulet d’automne matches pan-seared organic chicken breast with creamy polenta and vegetables, while the magret de canard, poivre-cerises makes mouths water over roasted duck breast with a peppercorn Armagnac sauce and wild rice.
“It’s affordable and it’s really good,” enthuses Urbini, who prioritizes local, organic ingredients as often as possible. For meats, he sources most of his protein from D’Artagnan, a favorite among chefs in the region. He and his chefs also make a point to take their time in the kitchen to ensure everything is prepared just so. Confits and coq au vin take two days apiece, while the frites for the restaurant’s moules frites take three days to ensure crispy perfection.
Just as the menu rotates with the seasons, so too do the specials. Each week, Urbini and his team craft different specials based on what’s in season and what’s “a little different and elevated,” he explains. With the desserts, meanwhile, he focuses on simple, beautiful flavors, and ones that are within the wheelhouse of his chefs. Depending on the day, diners could savor anything from mousse au chocolat to crème caramel.
And that’s just the food menu. Since Urbini was previously a sommelier, he has a penchant for serving French wines and includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Burgundy, and Sauvignon Blanc on his menu. His liquor menu is ample as well, as evidenced by the picturesque – and well-stocked – bar inside the bistro.
Above all, Urbini wants Brigitte Bistro to be a place for the people. The bistro draws its name from Brigitte Bardot herself, with more ‘70s stars decorating the walls throughout the space. The overall vibe is effortless, elegant, and entirely welcoming. Since the restaurant comfortably seats around 25 people, it’s a small space, and one that celebrates slow living in the Hudson Valley.
“It’s a small kitchen, and a slow process,” Urbini says. “People feel good here.”
61 E Market St, Red Hook