I have been frequenting this charming French bistro for more than 20 years. I first learned of it while reading in a newspaper at a gym. I was waiting for someone and picked up the article, which was presenting good restaurants in and around the North Brunswick area, and I was interested because there are many good Hungarian restaurants there. My business partner, at the time, loved French cuisine. He had gone to high school in Paris and had fallen in love with French cooking, and, when I read that Sophie’s Bistro was a good French country type restaurant, we gave it a try. We went to Sophie’s, and I have been returning regularly ever since.
The owner, Peter, is more than accommodating. In fact, he owns another establishment in New Orleans, and, when we were planning a trip there, he gave us a complete list of places to dine. Sophie’s has a casual atmosphere. When you arrive upon it, the building is yellow, with blue trim. You can’t miss it! I would say that the cuisine is authentically French. I don’t know who the chef is, but their offerings are superb! They have a bar and a cozy dining room area. The cocktails at Sophie’s are always exceptional. This time, we had a few of their French martinis (vanilla vodka, raspberry liquor & pineapple juice garnished with a cherry) which were absolutely perfect! That night we ate in a separate room they have for events. They had a chanteuse and a keyboard player.
To begin with, regularly I order the Soupe à l’oignon Gratinée (traditional onion soup), with gruyère cheese (the only way to make onion soup!). Other restaurants do not use gruyère for their onion soup (beware!). Gruyère is Jon’s favorite cheese and Sophie’s even has a burger with gruyère cheese, the Hamburger Monsieur Jean (certified black angus burger with blue, goat or gruyère cheese on French bread served with tomato, onion, lettuce and hand cut French fries). They also have a veggie burger which comes with sweet potato fries.
Jon will often order the Pâté Maison (peppercorn pâté served with toast points, cornichons, chopped red onions and greens) or the Escargots (snails in a garlic and shallot butter sauce). He sometimes follows this with the Bœuf Bourguignon (beef and vegetable stew in burgundy wine sauce). I have ordered the Steak au Poivre/au Poivre Vert (two 4 ounce medallions of filet mignon with black peppercorn rub or vert with a green peppercorn cognac cream sauce, both served with a potato-cheese gratin) which is delicious.
The last time we were there was Bastille Day (July 14th), and there happened to be a special prix-fixed menu. I normally don’t like this, but I found items I could order. I chose the Bistro Salad (baby arugula, hearts of palm, roasted red beets, cherry tomatoes and Belgian endive dressed in an orange vinaigrette). This was extremely fresh and very delicious; Jon ordered the same and loved every bite. It was so good that I think I may now add roasted beets to my own salads!
Jon’s entrée was Sophie’s Bouillabaisse Stew (shrimp, PEI mussels, little neck clams, Norwegian salmon, scallops, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and celery in a turmeric white wine sauce served with aioli (spicy mayo) toast points). He said it was among the best ever. I ordered the Paneed Pork Loin (pork loin pounded thin, breaded then sauteed and topped with a cornichon cream sauce served with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and green beans), and, with every bite I made mmmmmmm noises for it was truly delicious! This rarely happens with me (except for some of my own cooking, of course!). For dessert, I had the Tarte au Citron, and Jon had Sophie’s Chocolate Mousse. Jon finished his quickly, but I took some tarte home for breakfast! Jon topped things off with his usual: expresso with Marie Brizzard anisette.
I have never been disappointed in all these years, except for a few months ago when we went to Sophie’s for soft shell crabs (a delightful delicacy), but, sadly, they were gone! Admittedly, they warn you the soft shells go fast and we too late. Our substitute meals were wonderful,
All in all, dining at Sophie’s Bistro is a lovely experience and a French culinary treat!
Sophie’s Bistro 700 Hamilton St, Somerset, NJ 08873-3273