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Vin du Lac Bistro: Local cuisine with a taste of France

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News that the Vin du Lac kitchen duo of Chef Francis St. Dennis and partner Michelle Lak will be opening their own bistro in the new Pybus Public Market this spring should come as good news indeed for Wenatchee area diners looking for spectacular food.

St. Dennis says the Bistro at Vin du Lac — one of Chelan's premier wineries overlooking the lake — will be left in good hands with a couple of talented trainees, but he's very excited about the couple's new venture, Pybus Bistro.

And we should be as well. Our Foothills Dream Meal team of Rochelle Feil, Annette Pitts and myself were recently treated to a tasting of several wonderful items that will continue on the Vin du Lac menu. Similar items are likely to appear on the Pybus Bistro menu, said St. Francis, a graduate of the Portland School of Culinary Arts.

Our tasting consisted of a pork paté and creamy leek risotto appetizers; butternut squash soup; a fabulous salad of Honeycrisp apple, endive, walnuts and bleu cheese; fresh green beans with pecans and shaved Parmigiano cheese. All were beautifully prepared and focused on fresh fall vegetables and fruit grown nearby.

Star of the show for me was our entree of house-made, melt-in-your-mouth potato gnocchi, with sautéed Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, pecans and bacon in a light spinach cream sauce. Soft, crunchy, salty, creamy heaven with every bite.

St. Dennis and Lak put two desserts on our table for sharing: a pan-fried spiced pear and cranberry bread pudding and a chocolate tarte served with caramel and whipped cream. Once again, heavenly.

The couple — both Wenatchee natives by the way — cook with a creative flair grounded in traditional French methods, but a strong nod to fresh, local and lighter fare. Annette said it best when she noted that few local restaurants so well connect the food on the table to that grown in the region.

All the items we had are on the standard Vin du Lac dinner menu. We enjoyed a 2010 Vin du Lac Lehm Dry Riesling made from grapes grown around the bistro and tasting room overlooking the lake. All the items on the menu are tailored to pair well with Vin du Lac's selection of award-winning wines.

Open for lunch or dinner Thursday through Sunday, the food is definitely worth the drive to Chelan this fall or winter when the town is quiet and the lake shimmers with serene beauty.

Foothills magazine held its first Dream Meal competition last fall. I was fortunate enough to join Wenatchee World copy editor and former food editor Rochelle Feil and Annette Pitts, executive director of the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway, both serious foodies, in reviewing dishes at several local restaurants. The winners were announced in the January-February issue of Foothills. Here are reviews I wrote about each of the restaurants. I'll be posting one review a week. This is the last of the reviews from last year's competition. We're hoping several more local eateries will participate this year. Rick