Le Quai Bistrot Francais in Waterford a French eatery worth the trip

We know the many river towns with waterway histories dotting the Hudson River. Beacon, Hudson and Coxsackie, to name a few, are thriving, drawing downstate weekenders and new residents into restaurants, waterfronts and revived main streets. Goal Waterford? It hasn’t had quite the renaissance of Troy or Cohoes. You might know the annual Tugboat Roundup and Canal Festival, the Erie Canal towpath and the village’s visitors center, but beyond McGrievey’s Irish pub and Corcoran’s Towpath Tavern, both popular with locals, there’s been only minimal culinary draw.

Until now. It’s a total surprise to find a casual French bistro nested in a former diner on Broad Street, where surrounding buildings could use a little love. Not only has Le Quai Bistrot Francais already been open for seven months, it boasts a veteran chef serving up French classics and a former investment banker turned general manager running the show.

All traces of the former diner have vanished under striped wallpaper and pale yellows and blues; a Matisse painting holds one wall, and French music tinkles in the air. At first glance, the white tablecloths and a quiet crowd suggest something more formal, but casual banter between new arrivals and those seated at the bar dispel the idea. By phone, general manager Robert Lizardo later says they welcome informality and suggests that if someone wants to grasp the braised lamb shank and gnaw it off the bone, they won’t be judged. We didn’t see anyone attempt it, but I get the point.

A three-page wine list has nearly doubled in recent weeks thanks to their nifty practice of buying closeouts and end bins. It means there are some magical finds priced competitively from $50 to $100 and even rotating wines by the glass include a beautiful Picpoul de Pinet, and a current rosé, from a boutique producer in Corsica, is the third rosé carried until sold out since their February opening. Even a short beer list makes me smile at the sight of Kronenbourg 1664, Old Speckled Hen and Fuller’s London Pride. Lizardo is remarkably conversant in wine pairings, not only from his keen interest but because he briefly owned Madame Jumel’s restaurant in Saratoga during the early 2000s. He returned to the world of finance but notes he “learned his lessons well.”

Le Quai French Bistrot

Address: 49 Broad St., Waterford
Hours: 5 to 9 pm Thursday through Sunday, closed Monday through Wednesday
Prices: Food, $12 to $44; wine by the glass, $9 to $15; by the bottle, $32 to $170
Info: 518-874-1047. Search by name on Facebook.
Etc.: Street parking. ADA-accessible.

Perhaps surprising is that chef-owner Mo Malih has sprung for no advertising at all. Word-of-mouth recommendations have brought guests as far as Schoharie, but 85 percent of the weekly business is from locals living within a mile, according to Lizardo.

Malih, a native of Fes, Morocco, is a veteran chef and certified grand sommelier whose resume spans gigs with Jean-Georges Vongerichten in Manhattan and Thomas Henklemann at the Michelin-starred Homestead Inn in Greenwich, Conn. But as his wife works for New York state, you might know him as a server at Schenectady’s French restaurant Chez Nous in its original incarnation, where he met Lizardo. It’s hard to imagine such culinary skill limited to front of house but, as Lizardo explains, “He’d done everything except own his own restaurant. And now he has.”

That’s lucky for us. A tight menu of French classics fine-tuned by Malih pits chilled leek-and-potato vichyssoise against a roast asparagus salad dressed in fragrant vinaigrette with orange blossom water and a pile of crumbled dry kalamata olives as salty counterpoint on the plate. It feels simple, Moroccan in spirit and ideal for summer. Housemade baguette is served with a smooth, pureed ratatouille slicked with peppery olive oil; the coarse pork-and-duck country paté comes as two great slabs with pickled vegetables and Dijon and grain mustards, while escargots leaking ubiquitous garlic butter are folded in phyllo pastry and floated over mushroom fricassee and cognac cream. It’s flaky and rustic — an improv interpretation with no “slippery suckers” to tug from their shells.


I'm William from America, I'm a food lover, often discovering and making new recipes. I started my blog to share my love for food with others. My blog is filled with delicious recipes, cooking tips, and reviews about restaurants and products. I'm also an advocate for healthy eating and strive to create recipes that are easy to make and use fresh ingredients. Many of my recipes contain vegetables or grains as the main ingredients, with a few indulgences thrown in for good measure. I often experiment with new ingredients, adding international flavors and finding ways to make dishes healthier without compromising on flavour. I'm passionate about creating simple yet delicious recipes that are fun to make and can easily be replicated at home. I also love sharing my experiences eating out with others so they can get the best out of their dining experiences. In addition to cooking and writing, I'm also an avid traveler, often visiting new places to discover local delicacies and explore different flavors. I'm always looking for a new challenge – whether it's trying an exotic food or creating a new recipe using unusual ingredients. My blog is a reflection of my passion for food and I'm always looking for new ways to share it with the world. Join me on my culinary journey and let's explore delicious foods together!

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