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New York import Le Bilboquet brings French back to Travis Walk

Le Bilboquet, dining room
Le Bilboquet dining room boasts real rattan furniture and original art on the walls. Photo by Teresa Gubbins
Le Bilboquet bar
Le Bilboquet in Dallas has executed a perfect relica of the original in New York City. Photo by Teresa Gubbins
Le Bilboquet, exterior
Located in the former L'Ancestral space, Le Bilboquet has the the same understated signage as the New York original. Photo by Teresa Gubbins
Le Bilboquet, dining room
Le Bilboquet boasts a wall of doors that open onto a sidewalk patio. Photo by Teresa Gubbins
Le Bilboquet, exterior
Tightly trimmed ivy adds beautiful color and texture to the exterior walls. Photo by Teresa Gubbins
Le Bilboquet, dining room
Le Bilboquet bar
Le Bilboquet, exterior
Le Bilboquet, dining room
Le Bilboquet, exterior

It's getting all French up in here: A new restaurant called Le Bilboquet is slated to open next week in Travis Walk, in the space that was once occupied by L'Ancestral Restaurant.

Le Bilboquet comes to Dallas with loads of history. The original, open for 27 years in New York's Upper East Side, changed the game with its fusion of French bistro and trendy hot spot. The Village Voice proclaimed it one of New York's "10 most pretentious restaurants." It shut down on New Year's Eve after losing its lease, but a reopening has been set for August, with at least one other branch in the works for Brazil.

Meanwhile, some former Bilboquet staffers have settled in Dallas, including managing partner Laurent Lesort and longtime chef "Momo" Sow. They'll be re-creating menu favorites such as crab and avocado salad, foie gras terrine, and endive with Roquefort cheese.

"Chocolate mousse, crème caramel, apple tarte tatin, we'll be doing all the dishes exactly from the original Le Bilboquet," LeSort says. "It's simple food; we're not here to compete with the Mansion. Our most famous dish is the Cajun blackened chicken, and that's not French, although we serve it with salad and frites. People from all over say, 'The Cajun chicken!' It's the dish they want to go to Le Bilboquet for."

Perched on the corner of Travis and Armstrong, the space has been given a clean, bright makeover, with authentic touches from the original, LeSort says. That includes a dead-on replica of the bar with a bar-top made entirely from pewter; real rattan chairs made by hand; original art on the walls; and understated, barely perceptible exterior signage. A row of doors opens onto a long sidewalk patio, and the exterior walls are "carpeted" with ivy.

"The other thing about Le Bilboquet is that it was always a place where all kinds of people would mix," LeSort says. "Artists, downtown, Uptown — most important, it's a neighborhood restaurant, and that's what we hope to re-create here."

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