We’re of the mind that every town deserves a reliable French bistro, and now Guilford has their very own. D’Vine, the new restaurant in the old Whitfield’s space, has finally opened and we’ve waited patiently. There is nothing slapdash about it…this semi-traditional French restaurant with a fresh face, is going old school with classic dishes like steak frites, magret of duck, Hunter’s chicken and skate fillet, with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. Whitfield’s colorful decor has been replaced with serene gray walls, white trim and simple white tablecloths, fitting for the refined dishes being whisked out of the kitchen.
A first course of bright, local asparagus came peeled at the stem (who does this anymore?), atop a pile of morels and forest mushrooms in a creamy sauce with crispy ham and truffle pecorino. Off to a happy start! My husband’s French Country Salad was a lightly dressed melange of frisee, mache and watercress with the now ubiquitous egg on top. Lovely. Tasty roasted chicken Hunter’s style was my choice: a large portion of perfectly roasted bird in a puddle of cheesy polenta and mushrooms. Hearty and satisfying. While Joe’s skate wing could have been a bit crispier, it was still skillfully turned out, with a luscious lemon beurre blanc and more of those delightful peeled asparagus spears. We could have (should have) stopped there, but no, we didn’t resist the desserts made in-house: a textbook creme brulee studded with fat blackberries and a warm flourless chocolate cake.
You won’t find many surprises here (except the dutiful waitstaff with crumber in hand), but well-executed classic French fare. The owner/sommelier has done his homework and hired a chef with loads of experience, ranging from a stint in France to the Four Seasons and our very own venerated Union League. Many of the fine dining restaurants on the Shoreline are creeping past $30 entrees, but prices here are solidly in the twenties. A welcome addition to the Shoreline restaurant lineup!