A view of the dining room looking into the bar at Encore Bistro in Rye.Courtesy of Morris Gut
A view of the dining room looking into the bar at Encore Bistro in Rye.

Courtesy of Morris Gut
Many ethnic cuisines are represented by the restaurants doing business in Port Chester and Rye Brook, but surprisingly French, with its long and rich history, is not one of them. We are fortunate, however, to have a few French culinary choices in nearby Rye, including Encore Bistro which opened its second location about six months ago at 67 Purchase St. after months of renovation.

Lyon-bred David Masliah decided to branch out into Rye after his restaurant by the same name in Larchmont was an instant hit when it opened in March of 2000 and has enjoyed continued success to this day.

This larger 90-seat restaurant in Rye has white porcelain tiled walls and white ceramic tiled floors, burnt glass mirrors etched with house specialties, French novelty posters, long red banquettes, black tables and red-seated bistro chairs. Frosted picture windows look out onto Purchase Street.

The two restaurants not only share the same name but also the same menus with many classic French bistro specialties.

The food at Encore Bistro is first-rate so, although I haven't had a chance to try their prix fixe 3-course luncheon served Monday through Saturday yet, at $14.50 it is a bargain without a doubt.

I have been to the Rye location for dinner more than once and can recommend the Soupe a l'Oignon ($8), classic French onion soup, Paté Maison ($10), their exquisite country-style paté served with tiny French pickles or cornichons, Escargots ($8 for 6 pieces, $15 for 12), snails baked with parsley, garlic and butter, and Moules Provencales ($11), steamed mussels in a white wine, caper, olive oil, tomato, onion and fresh herb broth. I wouldn't mind if the escargots were baked with more garlic to produce a stronger taste. The mussels can alternatively be served in a creamy curry and white wine sauce.

Among the six delicious salads, the Salade parisienne ($14), frisée topped with smoked bacon, croutons, mushrooms and a poached egg, and Salade de chevre chaud ($12), warm goat cheese toasts over Boston lettuce with house dressing, stand out. I can definitely recommend the former.

Fish and meat main courses include such robust bistro fare as Steak Frites, grilled strip loin of beef served with the sauce of your choice; Onglet Grillé, grilled hanger steak with choice of bleu cheese, green peppercorn or red wine and roasted shallots, both $28 and both served with the best French fries I've ever tasted. They are so amazingly crunchy.

Other choices: Boeuf Bourguignon ($27), classic beef stew cooked in a red wine sauce served with linguine; decadent Croustillant de Ris de Veau ($27), sautéed sweetbread served crispy with whole grain mustard sauce; Carré d'Agneau Persille, sauce a l'ail ($29); roasted rack of lamb in a crust of fresh herbs with roasted garlic sauce; Saint Jacques au beurre blanc ($28), sea scallops in a parmesan crust, leek fondu, white wine, lemon and butter sauce which looks absolutely amazing if I wasn't allergic to scallops; and Truite aux amandes ($22), sautéed trout in an amandine sauce, one of my favorite fish preparations.

A signature lasagnes, offered as a special, is prepared with braised fennel, broccoli rabe, Portobello mushrooms and béchamel served with a creamy goat cheese sauce.

All of the dishes are made from scratch by Executive Chef Erwen Perez and his kitchen staff.

A carefully selected and reasonably-priced wine list covers mostly French, Italian and California vintages.

For lunch Encore offers such specialties as Panini au Poulet Grillé ($13) with grilled chicken, roasted peppers, eggplant and mozzarella; Salade nicoise ($17) made with mesclun, tomatoes, string beans, potatoes, olives, hard-boiled egg and grilled tuna; Quiche du jour ($12) and classic Croque monsieur ($12), a warm ham and cheese sandwich with French fries and salad. The Assiette de fromages ($15), an assorted cheese plate, is served with apple, walnut and mesclun salad.

Plates du Jour focus on various specialties during the week: Crepes Night on Monday, Mussels Night on Tuesday and Tartare Night offering a choice of steak, tuna, salmon or scallops tartare on Wednesday. There is also a kids' menu and an a la carte Sunday brunch menu which adds dishes such as Oeufs Benedict ($13), Pain Perdu ($10), brioche French toast with warm berries; and Quiche du Jour served with mesclun salad.

For dessert, save room for such changing house made treats as Chocolat Fondant, Profiteroles, Crème Brulée, Lemon Tart and Tart Tatin, old-fashioned apple tart cooked upside down and served with vanilla ice cream, all $9.

Masliah received his hospitality training at catering and management school in France. Locally he worked for La Panetiere in Rye, one of the grandes dames of French cuisine in Westchester, before realizing his vision of bringing the American dining public as well as the local French community a taste of "casual home style France" by way of a charming, reasonably priced bistro 14 years ago.

Both locations are open for lunch Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a. m. to 2:30 p. m. with prices ranging from $9 to $18 in addition to the $14.50 prix fixe menu. Dinner is served seven nights: from 5:30 to 10 p. m. Monday through Thursday, till 10:30 p. m. Friday and Saturday; 5-9 p. m. Sunday. Main courses at dinner range from $19-29. Sunday brunch is served from 11:30 a. m. to 2:30 p. m. with courses from $7 to $18. The children's menu costs $10.50. Free street parking is available in front of the restaurant, with additional paid municipal parking at the rear. Reservations are suggested for larger groups: 914-481-8833.