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The Tip

Fill up the tank at Cognac Bistro

Nelson and Joanna Cognac opened a full-serve bistro in an old gas station in Brookline. The menu includes classics and dishes with a twist. Nelson and Joanna Cognac opened a full-serve bistro in an old gas station in Brookline. The menu includes classics and dishes with a twist. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Devra First
Globe Staff / February 11, 2011

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COGNAC BISTRO

455 Harvard St., Brookline

617-232-5800

It’s a commonly held belief that good food does not come out of a gas station. Forget about hot dogs glistening with grease as they slowly rotate, to be chased by neon blue Slush Puppies. In a former Texaco in Brookline, you’ll find French bistro fare such as onion soup, blue crab remoulade with beignets, steak frites, and heaping platters of fruits de mer.

Cognac Bistro still looks like a gas station from the outside. It’s square, with garage doors. On the inside, however, it’s charming, with brick walls and framed posters advertising Cognac. The bistro is named for the drink and for chef-owner Nelson Cognac, who also operates the Mediterranean restaurant Kouzina in Newton. He and wife Joanna took over the Brookline space, previously a b.good, in October.

The menu offers plenty of classics, but also dishes with a twist. Instead of escargots, mussels are served in plenty of garlic-parsley butter. Salmon is prepared in the style of coq au vin. There’s a croque monsieur, but also a lamb burger. The bar menu features clams casino, grilled beef sliders, and a clam roll on brioche. And Sunday brunch brings omelets and baskets of house-baked bread, poached eggs with lobster hash, French toast, and more, along with eye-openers like a Bloody Mary garnished with blue cheese olives and shrimp. A current special offers Bluepoint oysters for $1 each every night.

Have a dozen (or two) with a glass of Muscadet and you’ll quickly change your mind about gas station fare.

Ratings

  • 4 Stars Extraordinary
  • 3 Stars Excellent
  • 2 Stars Good
  • 1 Star Fair
  • No Stars Poor