Accidental entrepreneur tries to bring bit of home to bistro

Classic country music plays from the speakers; life-size figures of the Blues Brothers, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, stand frozen in middance; and Josette LeBlond sends off a guest with “lover” as a term of affection.

It’s a typical midweek lunch hour at Josette’s Bistro, which serves French cuisine at 4983 W. Flamingo Road.

Growing up in Normandy, France, LeBlond worked in her father’s charcuterie (delicatessen) business. At age 17, she bought the business from her father and added a bakery. After selling the business to one of her workers, LeBlond moved to the United States in 1985 and worked in the kitchen of the Queen Mary.

Before long she opened Normandie Pate Inc., a pate and sausage business in Los Angeles. An accidental entrepreneur, as she explains it, Josette followed that with the Normandie Bakery, originally opened as a place for her son, Anthony, to work. Instead he stayed in France, where he works as a baker. The bakery supplies bread and other bakery items to a variety of businesses, including Whole Foods.

LeBlond moved to Las Vegas in 2001 and opened a wholesale Normandie bakery at 3701 Sirius Ave. and a retail deli at 5190 S. Valley View Blvd. Out of that concept evolved Josette’s Bistro, which also caters.

For LeBlond, owning the restaurant is like having a “home where I can invite my friends to eat,” she says in French-accented English.

She also brought a bit of home with her in the restaurant’s chocolate mousse recipe: It came from her grandmother.

The restaurant’s most popular items, she says, are pate, escargot, Bistro steak, coq au vin, lamb shank and sole almandine.

Josette’s Bistro also offers entertainment such as the Kiki Kalor Cabaret from 6 to 10 p.m. every Saturday, plus wine dinners and dinner shows.

Hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturdays.

Reservations are accepted by calling 227-4575.

Starters: Cold appetizer items include chicken liver pate with truffles ($5); cheese plate with European cheese ($9); charcuterie plate of cut meat and pate ($9); and foie gras ($12).

Hot appetizers include caramelized apple with melted brie ($5.50); escargot with garlic persil butter ($8); and shrimp scampi ($8).

Soups and salads: French onion soup ($6.50); soup du jour ($5.50); warm cheese salad ($8.50); artichoke salad ($8.50).

Entrees: Fish dishes include mussels Provencal in a zesty tomato broth ($19); sole almandine, sauteed and served with a lemon butter sauce ($21.50); and seafood pasta ($21.50).

Among the specialty dishes are porcini raviolis served with a creamy mushroom sauce and Parmesan ($18) and Cajun chicken served on pasta ($18).

And the meat dishes include steak tartare with french fries ($18); beef shepherd’s pie and mashed potatoes ($18); steak frites ($19); rack of lamb roasted with herb crust and mustard grain sauce ($28); and entrecote au poivre vert, rib-eye steak with green pepper sauce ($28).

Extras: The specialty menu offers mushroom bisque ($6.50); caprece salad ($7.95); Belgium endive with walnuts, apple and balsamic vinaigrette ($8.95); vegetarian special ($18.95); salmon with vegetable ($22.50); coq au vin with potatoes ($22.50); osso buco with pasta ($24.50); and surf and turf ($38).

Desserts: Creme brulee ($5.50); mousse au chocolat ($5.50); bananas Foster ($7.50); coupe d’amour, ice cream, chocolate mousse and fresh berries ($8.50); plain crepes ($6.50); crepes with vanilla ice cream, in Suzette, Nutella, strawberries, cinnamon or banana ($7.50).

Appetizers is a weekly informational column about new developments on the Las Vegas dining scene. Items should not be considered reviews or recommendations and none is a paid advertisement. Contact Ken White at 383-0256 or e-mail him at kwhite@ reviewjournal.com.

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