I haven’t spent a lot of time in France, but one would imagine that there are (or at least should be) a lot of country bistros like Cuisinett that serve solid comfort food in an intimate and neighborly atmosphere. One doesn’t find a lot of French food in the Bay Area, so it’s pretty special to have one in San Carlos that has become a go-to place for many people (we have two French restaurants if you include Crepe Stop, but that is a very different place). In a slightly off the main drag location at the beginning of San Carlos Avenue, Cuisinett took over a spot in 2011 which had seen a fair bit of restaurant turnover in the past. However, it appears that owner Geoffroy Raby has found a winning formula as Cuisinett gets a decent crowd every day for lunch and dinner (Sunday open for lunch only).
It’s one of those places where you’re greeted as family or old friends — Geoffroy seems to be really happy to see his guests whether he is shaking their hands when welcoming them inside or just checking up on them during their meal.
It’s a place where you order first at the counter and then take a seat. It is reasonably small inside with a handful of tables outside, so sometimes there could be a short wait particularly at peak lunch times. If it’s crowded, they really make an effort to find everyone a place.
They have a good variety of menu options, particularly for their size. Part of their menu centers around a few meat choices, including roast chicken, steak, or pork, all with your choice of one of seven sauces — this is where the French flavor really comes in, with options such as Coq Aux Vin, Provencal, Moutarde Dijon, Poivre, and Champignons.
They also serve some seafood dishes, the most popular (and classic) being the Moules Frites, a bowl of mussels with fries. Another classic dish is their Ratatouille, an excellent vegetarian choice. Classic French salad dishes include their Niçoise, Bretonne, and others. Quiche lovers will see the familiar Lorraine and Provençale preparations, and there is also a solid hamburger and chicken sandwich.
However, one of their most unique dishes and one of my personal favorites is the Merguez Frites, a spicy lamb sausage sandwich (you can substitute a side salad for the fries). The lamb sausage has just enough gaminess with an amazing harissa aioli and shallots topping it; if you like lamb, this is a dish you’ll probably have dreams about.
In addition, there are always daily specials, which likely will include a soup, burger special, Croque Monsieur, seafood stew, and other dishes. They also have a few kids’ choices as well as dessert selections. The only thing that seems to be missing from the menu is French onion soup, but maybe that’s just too cliché. Or course, as a French restaurant, they serve wine; by San Carlos standards, it’s a relatively small selection, but matches what you’d expect in a bistro.
Although one can certainly order takeout off the main menu, they also offer two “family meals” that are very reasonably priced and simulate a home cooked meal (by someone French). One option is a whole roasted chicken with your choice of Coq Au Vin, Provençale, or Moutarde sauce (I’m partial to the last one). It also comes with a salad, roasted potatoes, and baguette. For the whole French experience, all you need is a bicycle with a basket in front to carry your baguette! The other option is Quiche Lorraine or Provençale with salad and beignets. You can add a bottle of wine to either order.
We’re very excited that Cuisinett has gained a strong foothold in San Carlos; the food has been consistently high quality regardless of what we order, and comfort food is always more comforting in its welcoming atmosphere. A bientôt!