Le Bilboquet is our outpost of the Manhattan bistro that started its life as a darling of the Upper East Side, with rattan chairs, a zinc bar, and patrons there to people—watch as much as to dine on ring-mold stacked tartares and steak au poivre with mesclun and a thatch of shoestring fries. I’ve tended to be turned off by its souped-up French cuisine and lack of fundamentals. But a recent visit showed the place at its best. There was piquant Roquefort, soft as cream, in boats of endive; green beans accented with garlic; and an earthy wild mushroom soup that needed only a livening with black pepper. Entrées, too, made a good show of classics, as in Dover sole meunière with a tart lemon sauce flecked with fresh herbs and skillfully finished with butter. A special of duck breast à l’orange—rosy meat, a light orange flavor—was marvelous. Sauces retained their life. And ingredients seemed to respond to a kitchen that brought out their best natures. Profiteroles delivered the hot-cool luxe of house choux pastry dripping with molten chocolate. I’m relieved, somehow, to know that if I skirt the crab and avocado tower and the Cajun chicken, Le Bilboquet can deliver the best French food I’ve had in quite some time, and that it isn’t merely a place for air-kissing.