At Bistro 501, perhaps the only thing larger than the portions are those beckoning windows. If you’ve ever strolled down Main Street in Lafayette, you’ve no doubt gazed through them — curious about the fowl-themed interior décor … and likely envious of the food folks are enjoying inside.
On the other side, you can enjoy a view of downtown from this long-running institution for a quick lunch, luxurious dinner, cornucopia of cocktails and — for the meal on our most recent visit — bountiful brunch.
Bistro embraces the anything-and-everything side of the middle meal. There’s the vegetarian and gluten-free Health Nut alongside a gloriously gluttonous fried chicken and waffle, benedicts and bagel dishes, curry dishes and caprese sandwiches, buttermilk pancakes and battered cod. That’s just a sampling of the spectrum on this smorgasbord, which serves even the smaller folks who call them “eggies”; the Eggy Breakfast is one of three options for the young guests.
Biscuits and gravy aren’t usually my thing, often bland bread softened into sludgy, salty paste. But it was hard to pass up Bistro’s maple-chili sausage variant, with a delicately dialed-in sweet heat and served in a way that saturated the buttermilk biscuit without robbing its flaky crunch. Some dining companions from out of town sampled the Better Bacon — among Bistro’s many tasty team-ups with the Indiana meatmakers at Smoking Goose. Thick-cut, smoky and salted just right, it’s hard to go back to “regular” bacon after this.
The home fries were good, but they’ve got nothing on Bistro’s French fries (available at every meal). In theory, that cone is large enough to share. But you won’t want to, especially if you enjoy the grace notes of garlic in their side of dippable aioli.
After brunch, it’s also hard to go wrong. The Caesar salad comes in a parmesan-crisp bowl you can pick apart after you’ve sampled the scrumptious salad. Stuffed with short rib to keep it juicy in a way that satisfies even this staunch ketchup fan, the burger is a must. And their larger entrees stretch the staples in singular ways — from root beer-glazed carrots that pair with roasted chicken and BBQ pork to huckleberry or blackberry glazes and sauces and beyond. Big menu, big portions, big windows … and a big recommendation for Bistro 501.
Reservations recommended for dinner, brunch and large parties
Rob Ford is Tipmont and Wintek's communication director, a role he's held since 2015.
Rob has a bachelor's and a master's in Communication from Purdue University. He lives in West Lafayette with his wife and three children and has a life-sized Yoda statue in his office. Away from the office, you’ll find Rob working on his golf swing, jump shot, or hope for a Purdue basketball national title – all futile endeavors.