Menu for Sake Dinner is ready!

You already know what we have planned for the Vegan Sake Dinner — so what’s in store for the non-vegan version on Wednesday, May 25? We can tell you now:

First Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop
House-Cured Pork Belly
Sauteed Shiitake Mushroom Cap
Ginger Plum Sauce

Second Course
Roasted Asian Duck with Miso-Orange Sauce
Black Forbidden Rice

Third Course
Sesame Ahi Tuna
Pickled Ginger
Asian Greens

Fourth Course
Roast Pork and Crab Dumpling Soup

Fifth Course
Cold Soba Noodles with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
Tempura Shrimp
Tempura Green Beans

Sixth Course
Green Tea Ice Cream with Fresh Berries

This dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. sharp and the cost is $75 per person plus tax and gratuity. Keep your eyes here for future information on which sakes we’ll pair with which courses. In the meantime, make your prepaid reservation at 216.481.9635 and get ready for a true Asian gourmet experience!

Vegan Sake Dinner menu offers Asian delights

The menu for our Vegan Sake Dinner Wednesday, May 18, is ready!

First Course
Vegetable Consomme with Baby Bok Choy, Edamame, Shiitake Mushrooms and Vegetable Dumpling
Sake: Naba Shoten Minato Harbor

Second Course
Rice Paper Rolls with Thai Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce
Sake: Chokaisan Junmai Daiginjo

Third Course
Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette and Tempura Green Beans
Sake: Dewatsuru Kimoto Junmai

Fourth Course
Grilled Tofu with Sake Shiitake Sauce
Pea Shoots and Grilled Japanese Eggplant with Ponzu Forbidden Black Rice
Sake: Ichishima Silk

Fifth Course
Lychee Sorbet with Berries
Sake: Hideyoshi Namacho

This dinner is $60 per person by prepaid reservation and begins at 6:30 p.m. sharp. Call 216.481.9635 to ensure your place!

“OPA!” Greek Wine Dinner menu is here!

There’s so much going on at the Bistro this month it may seem hard to catch your breath. And indeed, the menu we’ve got planned for the “OPA!” Greek Wine Dinner on Wednesday, April 27, may just take away what breath you have left! Plan to be here for this culinary visit to the Greek Isles:

First Course
Lamb Keftede with Tzatziki Sauce
Wine: Santorini ’06

Second Course
Sea Bass in the Style of Corfu
with Artichokes, Lemon, Potatoes, Greek Olives, Oregano, Rosemary,
and Garlic
Wine: Moschofilero ’09

Third Course
Greek Village Salad with Pita Bread
Wine: Merlot Xinomavro ’09

Fourth Course
Chicken and Spinach Spanakopita with Dill-Lemon Beurre Blanc
Wine: Naoussa ’04

Fifth Course
Shrimp Santorini: Shrimp, Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, Orzo, and Ouzo
Wine: Nemea ’05

Sixth Course
Phyllo Nests with Fresh Berries and Honey-Infused Crème Fraîche
Caramelized Pistachio, Walnut, and Almond Tartlet
Wine: Metaxa Brandy

The “OPA!” dinner is $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. Doesn’t just reading about it make you feel like doing Zorba’s dance? Call 216.481.9635 to reserve your spot. We won’t be smashing any plates at the Bistro, but this Greek feast will be plate-smashing good!

Vegan Irish 3-for-$30 makes eyes (and taste buds) smile

The Tenant has experienced yet another 3-for-$30 Vegan Dinner, and this one was every bit as tasty as last week’s Irish Spirits Dinner–and also just as filling!

The starter, Caramelized Onion, Cabbage, and Vegan Bacon Tart, arrived at the bar as a crusty square of pure delight, sitting in a tasty sauce and sprigged with dill. I love caramelized onions, and I love bacon, so this one had to be a winner, assuming the vegan bacon tasted anything like the real thing (it did). To give you some idea of how good it looked, I had folks sitting alongside me at the bar who inquired about it and wanted to know if they might be able to order it separately! I couldn’t blame them, either, because the flavor was as terrific as its looks.

Vegan Irish Stew

The main course, Irish Stew with Vegetables and Gardein on a Bed of Red Bliss Potato Mash with Spring Onions, was not any less stellar. As you can see–so tempting that I forgot to photograph it before starting to eat it! The sauce on this one had an incredibly rich flavor, so savory and full of depth, and the vegetables–which included onions, carrots and blue potatoes, amongst others–were just fantastic. It was studded with big chunks of lightly breaded gardein that had the same chickeny texture and flavor as I’d experienced with the Hungarian-style schnitzel dish. And as if all that weren’t enough, it was sitting on top of those incredible Red Bliss mashers. Heaven!

By the time I finished the tart and the stew I was already feeling pretty stuffed, but there was still dessert to go: Chocolate Mousse Infused with Irish Whiskey. Wow. This mousse was every bit as chocolaty-flavorful and tasty as the Baileys mousse last week, and accented with a big, fat, succulent strawberry of the kind you especially appreciate in the off season. A spray of foamy whipped almond milk on top added a nice topping.

It may be time to put away the shillelaghs and shamrocks for another year as we hope and wait for true springlike weather to arrive (it certainly wasn’t happening last night–looked more like Christmas than the end of March, grumble grumble), but this month’s Vegan 3-for-$30 proved that you don’t need corned beef to enjoy a fine repast worthy of the Auld Sod. Be on the lookout for the announcement of April’s Vegan Dinner–it’s bound to be just as delicious!

Irish Spirits Dinner a most tasty trip!

The Tenant is pleased to report that I made it all the way through the most recent special dinner just fine, as I thought I would. And I’m so glad I did, because missing out on any of the courses in this one would have been sad indeed. Irish or not, the Irish Spirits dinner was enough to–OK, sounds corny, but true–have your heart dancing a jig!

It was fun to taste the various Irish spirits, but that wasn’t my primary reason for attending this one. I tend to be more of a food person, so while it was an education to try out the various liquid libations, I focused more on the edibles.

The first course of House-Smoked Irish Salmon Ravioli was just amazing. The ravioli was Ohio City Pasta, filled with the most tender and sensational smoked salmon, gently coated in a cream sauce that exuded the wonderful fragrance of dill right off the top. The delicate saucing was just ideal for this dish. It was accompanied by Bushmill’s 16 Year single malt whisky, which is powerful stuff indeed. As I said, I’m not big on alcohol in general, but my dining companion certainly enjoyed it, as I don’t doubt any fan of Irish spirits would.

Next was an unusual idea for an Irish platter. On St. Patrick’s Day, and even throughout Cleveland’s ethnic restaurants, corned-beef-and-cabbage specials abound. But who else bundles that dish into a neat, tidy little empanada? This one was fantastic, the empanada lightly flaky and not at all greasy, with the horseradish mustard sauce served alongside just the right condiment to bring out the flavors. This one belongs on the Happy Hour Menu! Alongside the empanada was a Potato-Leek-Bacon Chowder so creamy and rich with flavor that I could have eaten a potful.

The spirit accompanying this course was Boru Irish Vodka, which I found interesting for its smoothness and a kind of intriguing, slightly sweet taste. I’m used to thinking of vodka as flavorless unless some kind of flavor has been added, so this was a different experience for me. As strong as the legendary Irish king for whom it was named, Boru is made from pure spring water and distilled five times. Definitely a change of pace!

The third course was probably the most interesting to me from a “brand-new food experience” standpoint. I had never before had a Scotch egg: a shelled, hard-boiled egg, wrapped in a layer of sausage, then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Well, now I know of something new to me that I like a lot! (I guess when it comes to fried food, and sausage, I am there.) Chef Ruth’s Scotch egg was served on a lovely, refreshing bed of leafy Bibb lettuce and drizzled with a delightful Green Goddess dressing that made it even tastier. The drink for this course was Magner’s Hard Irish Cider–quite different from what I’m used to thinking of as cider–more like apple juice with a kick.

The fourth course was a pair of Baby Lamb Chops with Mint Shallot Sauce, resting on a bed of mashed Red Bliss Potatoes with Spring Onions. The lamb was just slightly pink and oh, so tender. Now it can be told, I suppose: when asked, I shared a bite with someone (who shall not be named) who had not signed up for this particular dinner (being more of a wine buff) but who had come to the Bistro that evening anyway and couldn’t resist wanting to know what the lamb course was like. Well, once he tasted it, he was a pretty happy guy, which came as no surprise to me. Perhaps he had second thoughts! Regarding the potatoes, they were aptly named, because to me, they were pure bliss, with just a hint of cider vinegar in the sauce that really brought the flavor out. I never would have thought on my own that mashers would benefit from a touch of cider vinegar saucing, but these did, and in spades! Another “I could eat a whole pot of this alone” dish.

O’Hara’s Irish Stout was the drink of the course, and I had a sip or two, although I’m not really a stout drinker. I think the people across from me were more experienced in the realm of Irish spirits, though, and enjoying the chance to sample a wide variety like this.

Last, but most certainly not least, came the dessert course: Baileys Irish Cream Chocolate Mousse with Scones, Berries, and Clotted Cream. The clotted cream was served on top of each tiny, halved scone next to our ramekins of mousse. My dining companion summed up the scones excellently: “off the hook!” As for the mousse, it was topped with whipped cream made from more of the Baileys. My dining companion offered a taste of her mousse to a third party, who was very appreciative! I think we ended up convincing two more people that maybe they should’ve signed up for this dinner after all!

The final spirit was Homemade Tullamore Dew Irish Cream, which was tasty but seemed almost a surfeit of riches considering what we already had in the mousse and the cream. Still, a fine end to a very satisfying meal.

The takeaway? If you love great food but the lineup of alcoholic beverages at a given Bistro 185 dinner is a take-or-leave, you might want to give it a try regardless. Because if you don’t, you’re going to miss out on some incredible food that’s worth the price of the dinner on its own. And those of us who attend regularly can testify to that! Of course, if you are a huge fan of both Emerald Isle food and drink, this one had to leave your Irish eyes smiling.

Don’t forget: this dinner was not the end of special cuisine Irish-style at Bistro 185 this month. They’ll be wrapping things up this Wednesday with the 3-for-$30 Vegan Irish Dinner, so be sure to plan on stopping by on the 30th so as not to miss out. Is it possible to enjoy Irish cuisine without corned beef? You bet, when your Irish stew is made with gardein! Not to mention which, this is another chance to get some of those Red Bliss potato mashers that delighted me–and some more unbelievable mousse. So, get your Irish up and come to the Bistro Wednesday! You’re sure to enjoy it!

Vegan visit to India was tasty indeed!

The Tenant returns with a summary of last Wednesday’s Vegan Night 3-for-$30 offering India-style! Again, I have to say I’m impressed and amazed by what can be done with foods entirely vegan-sourced. From beginning to end, delicious!

The appetizer for this dinner was Chickpea-Onion Samosas with Cilantro and Mint Chutney and Field Green Salad with Tamarind Vinaigrette. It consisted of two samosas, delicate puff-pastry pockets fried until perfectly crispy, with a filling of mashed chickpeas and onions. The cilantro-and-mint chutney alongside looked almost like wasabi, and had almost the same level of heat due to the spices in it, so just a little at a time was all that was needed to accent the flavor of each bite. The salad was very lightly and tastefully dressed as well. A good start to the evening!

Next came the main dish, Cashew-Coconut Lemongrass Curry with Vegetables and Tofu and Organic Brown Basmati Rice. This was an amazingly flavored curry dish. I love cashews and I love coconut, so it was perfect for me. The sauce was aromatic and full of flavor from the lemongrass and curry, studded with vegetables like eggplant and cauliflower, and full of plenty of cashew nuts. It was garnished with a touch of cilantro. Altogether the flavors melded delightfully.

The meal concluded with an appropriate and charming dessert, Coconut-Cardamom Panna Cotta with Mango Coulis and Fresh Berries. The coconut and mango sauce made it just sweet enough, with the cardamom seeds (you can see them at the top) adding a little spicy kick. The berries, too, were a refreshing touch in the dead of winter. What I find interesting about vegan panna cottas is that like other dishes that would ordinarily use gelatin as a thickener or “jelling” agent, they instead use carrageenan, which is seaweed sourced. Carrageenan is already used in many commercial products, from toothpastes to dessert items. It’s just one example of how a dish can be made vegan without losing anything of the flavor or texture one would expect from the dish.

The entire meal was yet another example of how, under the touch of experienced chefs, vegan cuisine in the style of any country can be both authentic and a very enjoyable dining experience. And obviously I’m not the only one eating it up; they tell me this dinner sold out. Another example of “if you cook it, they will come!”

Be looking here for information on what the Bistro has planned for the next Vegan Night!

Chocolate & Wine Dinner a tasty treat!

You’ve been waiting for it, and you’ve got it: the video from the Valentine’s Day Chocolate & Wine Dinner. I must say, I (the humble Tenant) am really sorry I didn’t get to finish this one. Those of you who were there, you know why; not going to bother the rest of you with the story. Suffice it to say I’m fine, and I hope I didn’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment of what was a really terrific repast.

We began with an aperitif wine, San Giulio Malvasia. This was a red sparkling wine, poured in flutes, and I liked it for its bright, slightly sweet qualities that prepared us for the meal to come.

The first course was Seared Day Boat Scallop with Wild Mushroom Risotto in a White Chocolate and Lemon Sauce. Once again, a classic Bistro 185 scallop, seared and cooked just perfectly, and in a delightfully light sauce. If you expect chocolate, white or otherwise, to be heavy, a sauce like this is a revelation; it was a light and delicate creamy seafood sauce, only a touch sweet. The risotto studded with mushrooms was a fine complement. Our wine for this course was Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs, which didn’t overpower the flavor of the dish.

Course 2 treated us to Chocolate and Espresso-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Mango Sauce, accompanied by a Chocolate Noodle Kugel. The slices of pork, once again cooked just enough, were tender and flavorful, with lovely little crispy crusty edges of chocolate-espresso coating. The mango sauce went with them perfectly, and the square of noodle kugel was like a little noodle casserole: a bit sweet but also spicy. With this dish we received a glass of Rebel Wine Company’s The Show Malbec. This is a smooth and full-bodied wine that is just right for a more substantial meat course.

The third course was a real charmer. I told my companions that it seems Ruth never does an ordinary salad, and this one was another mold-breaker. The mixed greens for this salad arrived in lacy fried baskets of Parmesan cheese slightly flavored with chocolate. (Ruth admitted to me later that they were very tricky to make.) The greens were sprinkled with organic cocoa nibs–which really aren’t sweet at all–and dressed in a mildly sweet, light ginger-citrus vinaigrette. This was tasty enough, but I’ll be honest and admit what my favorite part of the salad was: the piece of dark chocolate-dipped bacon that speared every serving. How can you resist a thick slice of applewood-smoked bacon coated in a lovely thick covering of dark chocolate? Of course, whoever came up with the concept of covering bacon in chocolate in the first place should probably be consigned to the fiery flames for having stumbled upon such an entirely unhealthy and utterly sinful concept. But it’s too late now to undo what’s been done. And let’s face facts: chocolate-covered bacon is unbelievably delicious. Did the Graffigna Pinot Grigio go well with it? Sure, but did it really matter? Enough said about that.

For the fourth course, we enjoyed Duck Confit with Chili-Chocolate Mole Sauce and Agave Rum-Grilled Bosc Pear. What a fine combination this turned out to be as well. The duck was ever so crispy and the sauce again was a winning combination of sweet and spice, with the pears just making it all the tastier. The wine was Campo Viejo Rioja, a very nice red.

Here is where I have to end my review. I only wish I could have made it to the Panko and Hazelnut Crusted Scampi with Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce with Brunoise of Fresh Melons in Chocolate Liqueur, not to mention the dessert of Chocolate Creme Brulee with Chocolate Cigar and Fresh Berries. I’m also a lover of any combination of chocolate and hazelnuts (keep your Nutella away from me if you don’t want it to disappear), and I know from past experience what kinds of reactions Ruth gets for her scampi. And a chocolate dessert like this one–need I say more? I would also have liked to try the Maschio Prosecco Treviso Brut and Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port. But I’m probably going to have to try to get Ruth to cook up these dishes for me some other time. How good are my powers of persuasion? I guess we’ll see. Then again, maybe I can convince her that I don’t want to have missed out on seeing what magic she worked with these dishes. Worth a shot, right?

Anyway, if you were there and would like to offer your comments on them, please do. As a matter of fact, feel free to comment on anything about this dinner. One impression I definitely came away with, from what I was able to enjoy, was that if anyone had any notions that  just because it was chocolate-based, it was going to be like eating six courses of nothing but gooey-sweet, candy-like dishes…well, it couldn’t have been further from the truth. On the contrary, it proved that with care and creativity, chocolate can be used as a flavoring or component of many dishes other than sugary desserts, just like cinnamon or any other such spice. Something worth thinking about the next time you want to try cooking up a special meal–or enjoying one in a restaurant.

What’s up next on the Bistro 185 special dinner schedule? As you may have already seen, it’s a chance to get your Irish on at an Irish Wine and Spirits Dinner. To ensure yourself a place at the table, be sure to reserve now!

Enjoy the luck of the Irish at our Irish Spirits Dinner March 23

March is traditionally a month when it’s easy to find Irish spirit in the air…and Irish spirits flowing (along with an awful lot of green beer)…on the 17th, anyway. But why confine the celebrations to one 24-hour period? By the time St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, all of us in Northeast Ohio are tired of winter and ready for an extended spell of warm, sunny weather. So the more we can lighten up the atmosphere as we welcome springtime, the better!

Bistro 185 wants to extend that feeling a little, so on Wednesday, March 23, we’re rekindling the atmosphere of the Emerald Isle with an Irish Spirits Dinner. This feast will offer an interesting twist on classic Irish cuisine, coupled with a marvelous selection of beloved Irish spirits of all kinds. Take a look at this menu:

Course 1
House-Smoked Irish Salmon Ravioli with Dill Cream Sauce
Bushmill’s 16 Year

Course 2
Corned Beef and Cabbage Empanada with Horseradish Mustard Sauce
Potato-Leek-Bacon Chowder
Boru Irish Vodka

Course 3
Scotch Egg and Bibb Lettuce Salad
Magner’s Hard Irish Cider

Course 4
Baby Lamb Chops with Mint Shallot Sauce
Red Bliss Potatoes with Spring Onions
O’Hara’s Irish Stout

Course 5
Baileys Irish Cream Chocolate Mousse
Scones, Berries, and Clotted Cream
Homemade Tullamore Irish Cream

This dinner is $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. Don’t miss out–call for reservations at 216.481.9635 now!

“A Night in Budapest” is vegan magic

Greetings, Bistro fans and vegan cuisine fans. The Tenant is finally back, with some time out for a cold. I regret to say that as a result of this cold, I decided not to attend the $10 wine tasting this week (I never want to risk making any of the other fine Bistro patrons, or the terrific staff for that matter, ill if I can help it). If you attended, however, and have a comment you’d like to make, please feel free!

As for “A Night in Budapest,” the latest Bistro venture into gourmet vegan cuisine last week, that was a fine evening indeed (as you know if you tried it yourself). The 3-for-$30 meal began with a first course of Tomato-Fennel Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings:

This dish was delightfully spicy with its blend of tomatoes, fennel, onion, paprika, and other flavorings. The cornmeal dumplings were deliciously tender, and the whole thing was topped with fresh sprigs of dill. A wonderfully warming winter soup.

Then it was on to the main dish, Vegan Chicken Paprikash with Potato Gnocchi:

This “chicken” was, as is true of many Bistro vegan dishes, made with gardein, which I’m told is made primarily from wheat gluten. Obviously not a choice for those with celiac or other issues requiring a gluten-free diet, but it does make an incredible chicken stand-in that is extremely difficult to tell from the real thing in terms of flavor. It worked perfectly in this dish, paired with classic traditional-tasting potato gnocchi and a sauce that, from my understanding, included cashew milk. It was rich, creamy in texture, and tasted just like something you might enjoy in a traditional home-cooking Eastern European ethnic restaurant.

The grand conclusion of the meal was Hungarian-Style Crepes with Apricot Preserves:

The crepes, made with almond milk and without eggs, were ultra-thin and delicious, layered with sweet fruit preserves, and accompanied by a snowing of powdered sugar, fresh berries, and “whipped cream” made with almond milk combined with a little tapioca to firm it up. A fantastic dessert and the perfect complement to the rest of the meal.

Altogether, “An Evening in Budapest” proved that even hearty, traditional ethnic cooking is possible using all vegan ingredients, and you won’t miss a bit of flavor!

Want more proof? Another opportunity is coming soon. On Wednesday, February 23, Bistro 185 presents “A Trip to India,” a three-course vegan dinner themed on Indian cuisine beginning to end:

First Course
Chickpea-Onion Samosas
Cilantro and Mint Chutney
Field Green Salad with Tamarind Vinaigrette

Entree
Cashew-Coconut Lemongrass Curry with Vegetables and Tofu
Organic Brown Basmati Rice

Dessert
Coconut-Cardamom Panna Cotta with Mango Coulis
Fresh Berries

Sounds special, doesn’t it? The dinner will be available between 5 and 9 p.m.; to ensure yourself a reserved time, call 216.481.9635 now and prepay with your credit card. Cost is $30 per person, plus 20 percent gratuity and 7.75 percent tax additional.

At Bistro 185, vegan dining is more than just a meal; it’s a tasteful journey into everything this type of cuisine can be. Book yourself this passage to India now!

Chocoholics, rejoice!

We’ve got the menu all planned for the Chocolate & Wine Dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16. As promised, every dish includes chocolate, and every one is going to be special:

Aperitif Wine
San Giulio Malvasia

First Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop
Wild Mushroom Risotto
White Chocolate and Lemon Sauce
Wine: Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs

Second Course
Chocolate and Espresso Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Medallions
Mango Sauce
Chocolate Noodle Kugel
Wine: Rebel Wine Company “The Show” Malbec

Third Course
Parmesan and Chocolate Basket
Mixed Greens
Organic Chocolate Nibs
Dark-Chocolate-Dipped Bacon
Ginger-Citrus Vinaigrette
Wine: Graffigna Pinot Grigio

Fourth Course
Duck Confit with Chili-Chocolate Mole Sauce
Agave Rum-Grilled Bosc Pear
Wine: Campo Viejo Rioja

Fifth Course
Panko-and-Hazelnut-Crusted Scampi
Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce
Brunoise of Fresh Melons in a Chocolate Liqueur
Wine: Maschio Prosecco Treviso Brut

Sixth Course
Chocolate Crème Brulée
Chocolate Cigar
Fresh Berries
Wine: Terra d’Oro Port Zinfandel

Think of what a special gift this dinner would make for your Valentine — this year, skip the box of candy and give an original “assorted chocolates” surprise! Not only that, but maybe your sweetheart will enjoy the idea of dining out after the rush. Especially when it means enjoying a relaxing, elegantly served six-course meal that’s full of chocolate magic.

You won’t want to miss this one, so call now and make your reservation ($75 per person, excluding tax and gratuity) at 216.481.9635. Chocolate may be the food of romance, but our Chocolate Wine Dinner will be a sweet experience even if you’re enjoying it solo!