Monday, May 27, 2024

Escargots de Bourgogne at Batifol in Kendall Square. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Vive la France. We’ve been blessed with the French wine bar Colette in Porter Square and now Batifol in Kendall Square, something of a cousin once removed. (It’s complicated. The owner of Batifol, Loic Le Garrec, runs Petit Robert Bistro in Boston.) The interior of Batifol, like Colette, has a long marble-top bar and red leather cafe-style bar stools. In English the name is related to a term for “frolic,” and the after-work vibe at Batifol in techy Kendall is lively, with natterings about UX design, pathogens, marketing strategies and project paths as common as first dates.

The locale on Third Street is where Abigail’s used to be (I miss its pierogis), close to the red line, Cambridgeside mall and all things Kendall. The menu is classic, with coq au vin, steak frites, duck (Moulard Duck Miel-Citron, a seared breast, served rare with fava beans) and chicken (Demi Poulet Rôti, roasted poulet with mashed potatoes and au jus) on the big-plate list; on the smaller side, there are charcuterie selections, oysters, French onion soup, salads and escargot. The latter is sinful and worth the trip, and you don’t even have to use a tiny fork to extract them from hard-to-hold snail shells – no, what you get is a nice thick wedge of brioche toast with plump snail meat atop slathered in a rich garlic-parsley butter sauce. It goes down so fast you’ll want two, but the small-plates offerings have more: That onion soup is solid and quite satisfying, with a lightly toasted, brimming crown of Gruyère; the Salade Frisée offers warm goat cheese and more of that heavenly brioche toast; and the Salad Niçoise, the thing apart from those snails that beckons me to Batifol, has anchovies, vine-ripe tomatoes, al dente verts (green beans), saffron potatoes and tender, rare slices of seared ahi tuna. It comes in a generous portion that makes for a meal in its own right. (Though next time I’m going to ask for its tangy basil vinaigrette on the side.) The other thing on the menu I’m eyeing is a side of saffron fettuccine that I’m told is meal size despite being barely more than $10.

Batifol has taken space in Kendall Square that was once Abigail’s. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Batifol goes morning to midnight. There’s a weekday menu that offers croissants, a Croque Monsieur (a French bistro must), an Angus burger topped with Gruyère on a brioche bun – what else? – and Tuna Pan Bagnat de Nice (ahi confit with roasted red peppers, anchovies and saffron aioli), as well as brunch on the weekend with the French take on eggs, a ham-and-brie omelet, and varying spins on eggs Benedict. That Salad Niçoise and heaping Gruyère-and-onion soup are on all three slates; those snails you can get only on the dinner menu, and remain the main reason one for a frolic in Batifol. 

Batifol (291 Third St., Kendall Square, Cambridge)

Cambridge writer Tom Meek’s reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in WBUR’s The ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.