Dining is art in Lewisburg, West Virginia.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Presentation is how a chef makes a first impression. As the server sets the plate down on the table in front of you, you might get a whiff of the dish if it’s particularly aromatic, but you’ll definitely see it before you grab and fork and dig in.
Chef Stephen Gustard not only gets the importance of visual cues, he elevates plating to art. His approach is not merely artful, it’s bona fide art. His food is presented with thoughtful intention.
Consider the symbolism of this entrée salad of frog legs and pork belly, a recent dinner special. A ring of nasturtium leaves surrounds the outer edge of the plate, looking like lily pads. If there’s a more clever way to present frog legs, I’ve yet to see it.
It managed to taste even better than it looks.
I rave about this dish and yet I only had a couple of bites, thanks to the generosity of my dining companion who’d ordered it. That actually says a lot about this chef’s skill in making a lasting impression.
My order, a salad of roasted beets, field greens, aged goat cheese and orange vinaigrette, was—no exaggeration—the best beet salad I’ve ever had (so far), and I’ve had a lot of them. A colorful contrast of hues it also provided a toothsome combination of textures and a welcome range of flavors from bitter to sweet.
We’d started our meal with a shared meat and cheese platter that proved to be an eye-popping, mouth-watering mix of local artisan cheeses and house-made charcuterie, along with assorted accoutrements of house-made mustard, fresh honeycomb, candied walnuts and crunchy crostini. It was a taste of West Virginia that would have impressed even the snobbiest Francophile foodie.
On a hot summer evening, a light meal was all I craved alongside some scrumptious dry rosé wine. But if you’re in the mood for a meal with more heft, the menu offers some French classics like Boeuf Bourguignon and Bouillabaisse alongside creative options like Thai green curry duck confit and comfort foods like hamburger and mushroom ravioli.
You can’t go wrong with whatever you order.
Located in historic downtown Lewisburg, West Virginia, The French Goat is a bistro where you can expect attentive upscale service, skillfully made cocktails or thoughtfully curated wines, and food that looks and tastes fantastic.
The French Goat
111 S. Lafayette St.
Lewisburg, WV 24901
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
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