Review Preview: Bar Les Frères

This week I visit Bar Les Frères (7637 Wydown Boulevard, Clayton; 314-725-8880), the new venture from well-known local restaurateur Zoë Robinson Pidgeon and her go-to chef, Ny Vongsaly (I Fratellini, Bobo Noodle House).

Bar Les Frères is small -- very, very small -- but there is a lot to remark upon, not least of all the décor.

Bar Les Frères occupies a former shoe-repair shop along Wydown Boulevard Road in Clayton. You will repeat this fact to yourself in amazement and disbelief upon your arrival there and during every visit thereafter. This was a shoe-repair shop? This is a restaurant?

The tiny dining room looks like the secret club room of an Edwardian manor, the refuge of the lost, mad uncle the Crawleys will discover in the sixth season of Downton Abbey. The walls are the bottomless red of a femme fatale's kiss. Deer antlers, sixteen pairs of them, loom above the bar. Framed paintings crowd the other walls. These are facsimiles of classical portraits, mostly, but scattered among them are a few contemporary doodles -- humorous send-ups of the portrait as art.

Once you stop gaping, you can't help but smile.

As for the food -- well, you might smile at that, too. Check back here tomorrow for my review.