Make the most of the season at our Summer Time Beer Dinner Aug. 28

Shakespeare probably said it best: “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” Seems as if you’re just getting into the relaxation and sunshine groove when whoosh—the back-to-school ads start appearing and you’re reminded oh, so soon that fall is coming. No, not already! It’s not often that living in Cleveland feels almost like living in San Diego weatherwise, but this summer has come close. And we earned it after a winter like that last one, didn’t we? If only we could stretch it out just a little bit longer…

Well, we can. Kids may be headed back to class soon, but there’s nothing says adults can’t kick back and enjoy the season for as long as it lasts. And what better way than with a five-course dinner of dishes perfect for summer, each accompanied by a satisfying brew? Even better—a dinner in which the brews themselves are used in the preparation of the dishes?

If that sounds like your perfect way to ease into Labor Day, our Summer Time Beer Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 28, is for you. We’re pairing each in a five-course menu of warm-weather delights with a specially selected beer, ale or stout actually used to make the course. Take a look:

First Course
Liefmans Fruit and Shrimp Ceviche
Blood Oranges, Peaches, Watermelon and Cantaloupe Infused with Citrus and Beer
Beer: Liefmans Fruitesse Framboise

Second Course
Sweet Lamb Mini Flatbread
Pulled Leg of Lamb Braised in Kentucky Peach Barrel Wheat Ale
Caramelized Onions and Roasted Red Peppers
Rooftop Garden Mint Drizzle
Beer: Kentucky Peach Barrel Wheat Ale

Third Course (Intermezzo)
Crabbies Spiced Orange Ginger Granitée
Beer: Crabbies Spiced Orange Ginger Beer

Fourth Course
Beer Batter Scallop
Warm Asparagus and Watercress Salad
3 Floyds Sauce
Beer: New Belgium 3 Floyds Grätzer Ale

Fifth Course
Russian Chocolate Stout Soufflé
Chocolate Stout-Infused Crème Anglaise
Beer: Stone Imperial Russian Stout

Cost of this end-of-season celebration for beer lovers is $49 per person plus tax and gratuity. Get ready to enjoy it now by making your prepaid reservation at 216.481.9635 today!

Hop to it this April at our “Hop-Pocalypse” IPA Beer Dinner

Do you like innovative cuisine and a good IPA beer? Have we got a special dinner for you! Our “Hop-Pocalypse” IPA Beer Dinner Thursday, April 3, at 6:30 p.m. brings together fun, different dishes and the cream of IPA brews for your sampling and delight. Peruse this mouthwatering menu of IPAs and accompanying courses:

First Course
IPA: Jackie O’s Waka Waka Waka
Wild Watercress, Baby Fennel, Cherry Tomatoes,
Mandarin Segments, English Cucumbers and Red Radishes
in a Champagne Vinaigrette

Second Course
IPA: Three Floyds Alpha King
Braised Daisy Field Farms Kurobuta Berkshire Pork
Guajillo Pancake, BBQ Gelee, and Jicama Slaw

Third Course
IPA: Heavy Seas Black Cannon
P.E.I. Mussel Nugget Nectar Curried Saffron Broth
Green Harissa
Garlic Tostada
Micro Cilantro

Fourth Course
IPA: 3 Heads 2 Kind Double IPA
Airline Amish Chicken Breast
Cauliflower and Redskin Potato Puree
Lardon Crema
Carrot Crisp

Fifth Course
IPA: Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam
Blueberry Panna Cotta
Hazelnut Brittle
Micro Royal Mint

Cost of this opportunity to hopscotch the IPA landscape is $45 per person plus tax and gratuity. To ensure your reservation, get hopping and call 216.481.9635 now!

If you love beer, you’ll love our plans for December 18!

Beer aficionados, December 18 is a day you’ll want to celebrate. Why? Because at 6:30 p.m., we’ll be holding a beer dinner of five heartwarming courses coupled with five beers—and an aperitif to kick things off. What’s more, two of the beers will be “mystery keg tappings” starring the products of top breweries. What will we find inside the kegs? It’s anybody’s guess, but it’s bound to be a fun revelation!

Here’s the lineup:

Saison Du Buff

First Course
Curried Rock Shrimp and Corn Chowder
Micro Cilantro
Toasted Asiago Tostada
Beer: Victory White Monkey

Second Course
Braised Daisyfield Farm Berkshire Pork Belly
Arugula, Cranberries, Candied Walnuts, and Goat Cheese Salad
Citrus Vinaigrette
Beer: Mission Brewery Shipwrecked Double IPA

Third Course
Hazelnut-Crusted Red Snapper
Ginger-Lemongrass Scented Basmati Rice
Tahitian Vanillia Bean Beurre Blanc
Beer: Affligem Cuvée 950

Fourth Course
Roasted Ohio Grass-Fed Beef
Butterball Potato and Crispy Leek Green Peppercorn au Poivre
Beer: Mikkeller—Mystery Keg Tapping

Fifth Course
Dark Chocolate Crème Bread Pudding
Winter Sea Salt, Caramel Crème Anglaise
Maker’s Mark Gelato
Beer: Sam Adams—Mystery Keg Tapping

Cost of our December beer expedition is $50 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Reserve your seat now for a delightfully peaceful respite from holiday-season craziness: call 216.481.9635 today!

Ayinger Beer Dinner presents the bounty of Bavaria (and elsewhere) Nov. 20

Beer lovers and fine cuisine fans, you will not want to miss our Ayinger Beer Dinner Wednesday, November 20 at 6:30 p.m. We’re pairing some of the finest products of this Bavarian brewery and others—from Lindemans in Belgium to Samuel Smith’s in Yorkshire, England, and more—with a variety of tasty courses that will play off their special qualities. Here’s the menu:

Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée

First Course
Bruschetta Trio
Black Olive Pesto • Artichoke Parmesan • Roasted Red Pepper with Feta
Beer: Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel

Second Course
Classic Bolognese Sauce with Polenta
Beer: Westmalle Dubbel

Third Course
Grilled Caesar Salad
Beer: Samuel Smiths Organic Lager

4th Course
New Orleans Bar-B-Que Shrimp, Corn Fritters
Beer: Blanche de Namur

5th Course
Decadent Ganache-Filled Chocolate Cupcake
Beer: Lindemans Framboise and Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout

Cost of this taste-tempting beer banquet is $45 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Call 216.481.9635 to reserve your place now!

A wealth of news for your fall pleasure: Restaurant Week menu, Ruth’s latest recipes, Beer Dinner and Vegan Thanksgiving!

We’re bursting with news here at the Bistro in November…so bursting that some of it we’re not even ready to tell you the details about just yet! But let’s tackle our bulletins one at a time…

RUTH’S PUMPKIN RECIPES: Looking for a good recipe you can make at home to take the damp and chill out of your bones? Ruth has just the thing, and she cooked it up on the Fox 8 Recipe Box segment just this past week: Pumpkin Chili with Chicken and White Beans. Or if you’re in a Mexican-food mood, try a Pumpkin Chicken Cheese Quesadilla! Watch the video here, and get the recipes here:

Pumpkin Chili with Chicken and White Beans (serves 8)

4 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons good quality chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
32 ounces chicken broth
1 ½ lbs. ground chicken
1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled off the bones, or leftover chicken or turkey
2 cans diced tomatoes (do not drain)
2 15 oz. cans white navy beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Garnish:  sour cream, chopped scallions, shredded cheddar or jack cheese , tortilla chips, cilantro

In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, garlic, red pepper, celery, and jalapeno pepper and sauté about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender. To the same pot add the ground chicken, chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, basil, bay leaf and cinnamon. Cook together until the ground chicken is pink. Add the chicken broth, diced tomato, pumpkin, beans, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the shredded rotisserie chicken. Cook for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the chili is slightly thickened. Garnish with any of the above suggestions.

Pumpkin Chicken Cheese Quesadilla

Mix ½ cup of pumpkin puree with 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce. Spread on 2 flour tortillas. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and ½ cup cooked chopped chicken. Top each with another tortilla. Heat 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil in pan. Add tortillas and cook until they are golden brown. Cut into wedges.

CLEVELAND RESTAURANT WEEK IS COMING!: Cleveland Independents Restaurant Week is once again TWO weeks: Monday, November 4, through Saturday, November 16. We invite you to join us (especially if you haven’t tried us yet) and enjoy one of our “3 for $33” (plus tax and gratuity) complete dinner options. Choose one each from these starters and entrees, and add our Dessert of the Day:

Soup of the Day
Field Green Salad
Tempura-Battered Calamari

Bistro Steak with Hollandaise and Mashers
3-Cheese Ravioli with Marinara or Alfredo Sauce
Panko-and-Almond-Crusted Cod with Corn Pudding
Mussels in a Spicy Marinara with Pasta
Chicken Marsala
Sesame-Crusted Tuna with Peanut Noodles
1/2 Slab St. Louis Ribs with Fries

Whatever you select, you’ll love it! Of course, our other starters and entrees will also be available a la carte at the prices listed on the menu.

BEVY OF BAVARIAN BEERS: Beer lovers and fine-dining aficionados will want to join us for our Ayinger Beer Dinner Wednesday, November 20, at 6:30 p.m. This $45-per-person event will highlight five courses specially paired with beers from this traditional Bavarian brewery. Watch for a menu coming soon!

VEGAN THANKSGIVING: You loved it so much it’s become a tradition: our meatless, completely animal-free Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner. This year’s feast will be Wednesday, November 27 at 6:30 p.m. (the night before Thanksgiving). We’re still working on the menu for this one, but you can be assured it’s going to be another amazing meal! Check back soon. Cost will be $45 plus tax and gratuity.

AND THERE’S MORE NEWS TO COME…We’re announcing something brand-new to our schedule this month that we think you’re going to like very much. What is it? Watch this space and find out!

Oktoberfest comes early: Enjoy German food and a bevy of beers Sept. 19

With all we’ve got going on this fall at the Bistro, you’ll have to update that calendar to make sure you can keep track. Lovers of German cuisine will need to keep this in mind as well: we like celebrating our Oktoberfest in September! We couldn’t wait another month to serve up our dinner that celebrates this country’s hearty cuisine with a slate of complementary brews. Join us Thursday, September 19 at 6:30 p.m. for the Oktoberfest Rare Bomber Beer Dinner, and experience a menu with plenty of oom-pah-pah:

First Course
Veal Schnitzel with Fried Organic and Local Egg, Anchovy and Lemon

Second Course
House-Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Kraut and Apples

Third Course
Bavarian Cucumber and Sour-Cream Salad

Fourth Course
Beer-Braised Bavarian Sausage and Spaetzle

Fifth Course
Apple-Filled German Crêpe

Savor it all with this selection of beers:

• Ommegang Gnomegang—Belgian Style Strong Pale Ale
• Blue Moon Vintners Series—With Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes
• Uinta—Cahoots Double Rye India Pale Ale
• Sierra Nevada—Ovila Dubbel
• Affligem—950 Cuvee

Cost of this tasty European culinary excursion is $49 per person plus tax and gratuity. Call 216.481.9635 and make your reservation to experience the best of Germany on a plate!

UniBroue Beer Dinner: cozy, hearty food and brew!

The Tenant returns…and as I wrap up my last preparations for the Christmas holiday, I can’t help but be warmed by fond memories of last week’s UniBroue Beer Dinner at the Bistro, which served up wintertime comfort food French Canadian style–along with a selection of intriguing beers courtesy of Quebec’s UniBroue brewery. As our expert of the evening, Greg from Cavalier Beer Distributing, explained, UniBroue specializes in Belgian-style brews–slightly sweeter beers made from Belgian yeast strains and conditioned with the yeast staying in the bottle–which made fine accompaniments to the hearty courses served up alongside.

I’ve traveled to many parts of Canada many times, but I must confess that in all the times I’ve visited, I have yet to try what’s more or less the national snack: poutine, a French Canadian concoction of French fries piled with cheese curds and topped with gravy. While you can find poutine on Canadian menus everywhere, even the fast-food counters (especially the fast-food counters!), I had yet to try it. For this reason, I was all the more curious to experience it as the first course in this dinner. And the fries for this version wouldn’t be just any fries, but fries cooked in duck fat. This, along with the hand-cut slenderness of the frites and the green-onion garnish, elevated the poutine served here from fast-food snack to true Bistro-level fare. And was it delicious! The frites were oh-so-crispy, the gravy rich with a slight touch of cinnamon, and the cheese an intriguing contrast. Our beer served with the course was La Fin du Monde, a Belgian-style Triple Ale, which Greg explained actually was a term referring to its 9% alcohol level rather than any actual “triple” process followed in the brewing. I liked its light, airy feel and mild sweetness.

Our second course was one I’d gladly enjoy as a holiday meal, at Christmastime or anytime! In Quebec they’re fond of cooking meat with one of the products for which they’re well known–maple syrup–and while that kind of cooking can be cloying in less than a practiced hand, Chef Ruth knows how to do it just right. The Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin had just enough sweetness to complement the utterly tender meat and gently glaze the roasted, caramelized Brussels sprouts surrounding it, along with the chunks of bacon (whose smokiness contrasted delightfully with the sweet maple) and pecans. Amazing!

The beer for this course had an old French Canadian folktale behind it, according to Greg: the kind of folktale whose plot seemed to have a fairly consistent pattern after we’d heard a few of them. Maudite, which means “damned,” makes reference to a story of long-ago lumberjacks, impatient to get home, who make a deal with the Devil to fly their canoe quickly back to Montreal by air. Unfortunately, one of them makes the mistake of mentioning God during the trip, which displeases the Devil and condemns them all. (There are many versions of this story, but that’s one. We learned that there seem to be many French Canadian legends connected to men who make deals with the Devil, only to their regret.) Maudite, the beer, is a quite pleasant one by contrast, darker than La Fin du Monde, very effervescent. It went well with this dish indeed.

The salad course, a French White Salad, was a pleasant change of pace. Very much a contrast from the warm, smoky dish preceding, this was a cool combination of chopped Granny Smith apples, white asparagus, mushrooms and leeks, in a lightly sweet dressing, garnished with a few crunchy pomegranate seeds and accompanied by a crispy toasted baguette slice. Its accompanying beer, too, was white: Blanche de Chambly, a traditional white ale of half grain, half barley, with a touch of citrus and coriander, and a slightly lower alcoholic content (5%) versus the first two beers (the Maudite ranks at about 7%).

It was back to stick-to-your-ribs fare for the next course, a Deconstructed Cassoulet. This plate assembled a crispy leg of duck confit atop a bed of white beans and braised sauerkraut with a smoky slice of sausage alongside. It was absolutely savory and rich and a delight. In keeping with the hearty nature of the dish, the beer for the course, Trois Pistoles (which actually refers to coins, not pistols, as Greg explained to us), was darker in color but still had a light, sparkly feel.

Dessert concluded the meal with quintessential Frenchness: a Chocolate Creme Brulee garnished with raspberries and served with the final beer, Terrible (pronounced the French way). Terrible was not at all terrible, but quite pleasant–a hoppier, darker beer, with some cocoa notes to play off the flavor of the dessert very nicely.

All in all, this dinner was a treat for anyone who loves Belgian-style beer and/or the sturdy, satisfying cuisine of our northern neighbors. Beer fans, especially, will want to stay alert for the next opportunity to experience this kind of feast.

For those who prefer their bubbly more in the form of wine–your chance to indulge is coming soon. I hope to see you at the Bistro on the 28th as we say goodbye to 2011 by floating away on a river of champagne and incredible edibles. In the meantime, have a terrific holiday season!

Mark your calendar for these tasteful end-of-year events!

Last night’s Vegan Thanksgiving was indeed something special…and we’ll be getting video and a review up over the next few days, so keep an eye out for them. In the meantime, get out your calendar–paper, electronic or otherwise–and save these upcoming dates to make sure you don’t miss out on any of our upcoming tastings, dinners or special offers!

“BLACK FRIDAY” SPECIAL RETURNS…Our “Black Friday Gift Certificate Special” was so popular last year that we’re bringing it back. If you’re having trouble thinking of the perfect holiday gift for people who seem to have everything, we can make your search simpler and less stressful. Stop in THIS FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25 ONLY, purchase $100 worth of Bistro 185 gift certificates (in any denomination — one $100 certificate, two $50 certificates, one $75 certificate and one $25 certificate, or four $25 certificates) and you’ll receive a $25 certificate FREE! Give the special people on your list the gift of a relaxing afternoon or evening out, away from the stress and strife, enjoying a superb meal, and your thoughtfulness will be remembered a long time.

Remember, while we sell gift certificates anytime (and highly recommend them as the perfect all-occasion gift), this offer is good on Black Friday only, in person. Admit it, you were looking for an excuse to rest and have a bite to eat during or after hitting the stores (or even if you refused to hit the stores!), so why not relax and get a lot of your shopping done at the same time? You might even want to keep that free gift certificate for yourself…your call.

Here’s one more advantage: you don’t have to leave the house Thanksgiving night or at the crack of dawn Friday morning to take advantage of this special. Trust us, at 5 a.m. this Friday, we’ll be in bed! But come around during lunch or dinner, and we’ll sell you as many certificates as you want to buy. See you then!

WINE AND BEER DINNERS IN YOUR FUTURE… Remember our “Julia Project” in the summer of 2009? We had a great time together enjoying the world of French cuisine with our takes on the classic recipes of Julia Child. This Wednesday, November 30, at 6:30 p.m., join us for a wine dinner that’s sure to bring back memories of those special days. Our French Wine Dinner (see menu at the link) will feast you with five courses of incredible wine and dishes from la belle France. Sign up for this $65 happy flashback by calling 216.481.9635 to make your reservation now!

Is beer your preferred refreshment? You’ve still got time to reserve a spot at our UniBroue French Canadian Beer Dinner (see menu at the link) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, December 15. From Poutine with Duck-Fat Fries to Chocolate Creme Brulee, this menu will amaze you as you sample hearty beers brewed by our northern neighbors.

WINE TASTINGS TO HELP YOU MAKE YOUR PERSONAL HOLIDAY ENTERTAINMENT SELECTIONS… Love entertaining guests, but not sure which wines will suit your menu or are most likely to please? Maybe you’re looking for something special to sip by the fire this winter. Our December wine tastings are your perfect opportunity to try a few before you invest in a bottle. Our Tuesday, December 13 tasting, at $25 per person, will feature hors d’ouevres and four French wines: Jules Bertier Sparkling, Louis Laurent Vouvray, Brotte Côtes du Rhône and Chateau le Paradis Côtes de Bourg. We’ll have more information about the Monday, December 19 tasting, at $15 per person, soon. Both tastings run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. To sign up for either, call 216.481.9635 now.

FINISH OFF THE YEAR WITH A POP!… The holiday season is about tradition, and we’re continuing yet another so many of you have enjoyed: our year-end Champagne Dinner. For those who prefer a more civilized alternative to the New Year’s Eve craziness, this gives you the opportunity to toast the New Year early while enjoying a delightful variety of the bubbly and sumptuous food to go with it. Plan now to join us Wednesday, December 28, for “Amuse-Bouche,” our latest incarnation of this annual classic. Our $75-per-person menu will feature these five courses:

First Course
Escargot en Croute
Caviar-Creme Fraiche-Chives
Pernod Cream Sauce
Champagne: Dr. L Riesling Sec

Second Course
Duck Confit
Duck-Fat Fries with Sea Salt and Rosemary
Roasted Garlic Aioli
Champagne: Adami Garbel 13 Prosecco

Third Course
Scallop Rockefeller
Lemon Shallot Sabayon
Champagne: Ayala Brut Majeur Non Vintage

Fourth Course
French Braised Short Rib in Coquette
Root Vegetable Mash
Wild Mushroom Saute
Champagne: Ayala Brut Zero Dosage Non Vintage

Fifth Course
Boule de Neige with Hazelnuts and Raspberries
Champagne: Norton Demi Sec

Be sure to call 216.481.9635 and reserve your place–this dinner is always popular!

One more tip: for those who enjoy hitting the town on New Year’s Eve proper, we’ll be offering something special this year. Watch this space for more details.

Oh, and while we’re open today and tonight, we are closed Thursday to give all our staff a well-deserved day to spend with their families. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

UniBroue Beer Dinner postponed to Dec. 15

If you’re looking forward to enjoying our multiple courses of cuisine French Canadian style with a selection of artisnal Quebec beers to match, be patient and your day will come. We’re postponing our Unibroue Beer Dinner a month and will instead hold it Thursday, December 15. If you haven’t yet signed up but it sounds good to you (take a look here to review the menu and beer selections), why not do it now? Plan now to reward yourself after a day of holiday shopping or just relax with a good meal and some special brews. Call 216.481.9635 to reserve your spot!

Here’s the menu for our UniBroue Beer Dinner!

It’ll be beer and dining French-Canadian style at the Bistro’s UniBroue Dinner, featuring artisanal beers from Quebec, Canada, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, December 15:

First Course
Montreal-Style Poutine (Duck Fat Fries, Fresh Cheese Curds and Gravy)
Beer: La Fin du Monde

Second Course
Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Pecans
Beer: Maudite

Third Course
French White Salad
Beer: Blanche de Chambly

Fourth Course
Deconstructed Cassoulet
Duck Confit with White Beans and Sausage
Beer: Trois Pistoles

Fifth Course
Chocolate Crème Brulee
Beer: La Terrible

That last one, by the way, means the name of the beer is “La Terrible”–not that the beer itself is terrible! (Except maybe in the original sense–kind of an equivalent for “awesome”!)

Cost of this dinner is $50 per person plus tax and gratuity. Take advantage of this chance to try some incredible imports from our neighbors to the north, along with their cuisine–call 216.481.9635 and reserve your spot!