Just in time for Valentine’s Day, and the accompanying opportunities for eyelash-batting over full-bodied pours of Bordeaux, the pair behind a popular South End restaurant have ushered an adorable newcomer to Cambridge’s Porter Square. Colette Wine Bistro is now open, offering twists on traditional French fare in a cute, upscale-casual space inspired by 20th-century literary salons.
“I wanted the menu to be vibrant and fresh in both presentation and flavor,” says chef Cyrille Couet, formerly of Miel (French for “honey”) inside the InterContinental Boston hotel. He was informed by international travels, and the results intrigue. Boneless chicken is brushed with mustard and tarragon, marinated in traditional French flavors and Indian-style yogurt. For daily-changing ceviche, Couet employs Caribbean-inflected elements—like coconut milk and sweet chili—inspired by his time working on the islands. Other items are more traditional, like a tart Tatin that “takes me home,” says Couet, a French native. There’s also a strong selection of raw seafood and charcuterie.
The beverage program is overseen by Sandrine Rossi, who runs Frenchie Wine Bistro in the South End with her Colette co-owner Loic Le Garrec. (Le Garrec is separately the owner of South End stalwart Petit Robert Bistro, too.) French wines and spirits are certainly well-represented, though the options aren’t exclusive to l’Hexagone.
Namesake Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, the Nobel Prize-nominated French author and actress, served as a muse for the interior. It features plush velvet booths, wall coverings of tropical landscapes from a high-end French design house, and an array of antiques—including, of course, a typewriter at the bar. That’ll be a perfect perch when Colette launches its “philosophie cafe” series, which will invite local university professors to present on various topics.
Colette Wine Bistro serves breakfast daily from 7 a.m.-10 a.m. and dinner daily from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Weekend brunch will launch next weekend, and lunch hours will roll out in a few weeks.
1924 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, colette1924.com.