I couldn’t help but have my doubts about Argyll Pub’s successor in Cherry Creek; following on the heels of a smash success is a job for geniuses or fools, & most people aren’t the former. So far, mixed online reviews have given no indication of any particular brilliance on the part of the joint owners of La Merise—& the fact that, as we were told, they’re respectively from Lithuania & Latvia certainly struck me as a missed opportunity: why they didn’t open a Lithuanian-Latvian joint? That would have been awesome.

But, granting that 1 meal is insufficient to quell all doubt, it went some way toward reassuring me that this French bistro deserves a chance.

The décor hasn’t changed much, nor should it have, since Argyll already had the right vibe—maybe it’s a little twinklier, a little more Gallic in ornamentation, a little more feminine right down to the staff, entirely composed of sweet young things when the Director & I were there for Sunday brunch. The menu’s wholly traditional, which means creativity’s off the table & execution is all-important.

On that score, my chicken croquettes were the pudding the proof’s in.

The meatballs themselves were nothing but light, perfectly moist & seasoned, ground chicken, which is all they needed to be given their bath in a dilled cream sauce that was likewise comme-il-faut in texture (not watery, not gloppy), alongside gruyère-scalloped potatoes sliced ultra-thin for extra crispiness & root vegetables roasted to a T, really—so much deep, glazed flavor.

Rather clunkier in presentation was the Director’s pick, a rolled crêpe that struggled to breathe under a heap of hollandaise-drenched ham, poached eggs—1 broken on arrival—& Swiss. But so long as you took care to get a little of this & a little of that with each bite, the flavors came together nicely, classically, richly.

The bread basket isn’t as good as it should be, but the wine list is better than it has to be, & in the end I was rather charmed by the whole affair. Seems to me like the sort of place that could blossom with a little neighborhood attention.

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