An Elevated Experience at East End Bistrot

The upscale French chophouse concept in the newest restaurant from Giorgios Bakatsias, set in the East End Market development
by Catherine Currin | photography by Forrest Mason

Rich, red walls complement a lush floral wallpaper by Dolce & Gabbana; those same crimson walls are a backdrop for a hand-painted mural of an elegant woman among flowers by local artist Arianne Hemlein.

Delicate stemware holds exquisite wine selected by sommelier Scott Hardiman; textured white dishes display fine French fare by executive chef William D’Auvray. To dine at East End Bistrot is to feel transported from the mundane, to find luxury in every detail.

The latest concept from Giorgios Bakatsias, the restaurateur behind Rosewater Kitchen & Bar, Las Ramblas and Vin Rouge, among many others, East End Bistrot is set in one of Raleigh’s newest developments, East End Market. Bakatsias enlisted D’Auvray, with whom he opened Parizade in 1992, to helm the “French chophouse” vibe for the menu.

“We’re trying to be an opulent fine dining experience, but not taking ourselves too seriously,” D’Auvray says. “I’m not trying to be at the point where you feel like you need to wear a coat and tie.” 

That said, the experience at East End Bistrot (including, one notes, the prices) may demand a little glamor from its guests. Interior designer Tula Summerford created its eclectic yet elegant feel. “This space is a tale of two cities: Raleigh and Paris,” she says. “I am obsessed with everything French, and wanted to create a joyful explosion of energy and color.” 

Immediately prior to opening East End, D’Auvray worked as a restaurant consultant, but around here he’s best known for operating old Raleigh favorites Fin’s and bu-ku. So it’s no surprise that D’Auvray’s menu features classic French dishes like steak au poivre and beef bourguignon — but also incorporates his knowledge of seafood and Asian traditions.

“What we’re trying to do is work with what we know is an incredible ingredient, and then not over-manipulate it,” he says, nodding to delicacies like turbot from Hawaii, bay scallops from Nantucket and chanterelle mushrooms from France. 

D’Auvray’s raw menu celebrates his love for the finest seafood, with oysters on the half-shell, bluefin toro and a yellowtail sashimi with Calabrian chilis. But there’s also a self-proclaimed “best burger in town” that’s only available Tuesday through Thursday, served with pomme frites and a decadent duck fat aioli. Also on Tuesdays exclusively, East End’s plant-bedecked patio transforms into a champagne terrace, complete with bubbles, light bites and music. 

Perhaps the kitchen best sums up the dining at East End. Through a sliver in a giant wall of dimensional gold tile, you can get a glimpse of D’Auvray and his team at work. “Since all of the big decisions take place in the kitchen, I wanted it to be a focal point,” says Summerford.

As with the rest of the restaurant, the view into the kitchen is the the perfect marriage of craft and glamor.

This article originally appeared in the February 2024 issue of WALTER magazine