Read all about it, Part II…

We were delighted to see a rave review of our Julia Project on Cleveland Magazine‘s blog under the “Feast!” category (“Child’s Play”). Local food writer Laura Taxel and photographer Barney Taxel stopped by after a viewing of the movie Julie & Julia to try both our regular-special Boeuf Bourguignon (which is not part of the Project) and the Julia dish of the evening, the sea scallops with green sauce and risotto. “It was superb,” she said. They also enjoyed their free dessert: a slice of Chef Todd’s layer cake made with almond meal, raspberry lemon curd, buttercream frosting and whipped cream. We are very happy they enjoyed their evening with us!

Video: Julia makes a dinner featuring Steak Diane

We’ll bring you a “Behind the Dish” post with the scoop behind our version of tonight’s Steak Diane (from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home) later today. For now, here’s a video from the old Julia Child & Company series in which Julia prepares Steak Diane as the highlight of a “nifty little dinner” that includes Chocolate Mousse Cake and “mashed potatoes made with real potatoes.” Enjoy!

Behind the Dish: Bouillabaisse de Poulet

Julia’s variation on the traditional bouillabaisse — normally fish stew — that substitutes chicken for the fish is a tasty dish indeed. Here’s how we make it at the Bistro: the poached chicken is flavored by a combination of white wine, vermouth and “Provençal vegetables and herbs”: onions, scallions, our rooftop-grown tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, fennel, saffron and orange peel. Swirled in as a final touch is a bit of pistou — a French variation on the Italian pesto — a combination of basil, tomato, garlic and cheese. We will serve it with Ohio-grown baby red potatoes for a hearty dish with plenty of local flavor.

And, what’s a birthday — especially a great chef’s birthday — without cake and ice cream? Our dessert choices tonight will include a special Angel Food Cassata with Cherries and Nectarines as Julia’s birthday cake, and our ice cream flavor of the evening is sure to be an eye-opener: Mango Jalapeño. Or, enjoy your mangoes and your cake together in a special dessert with a real taste of the tropics, Plantain-Mango Trifle with Banana Chips and Dulce de Leche Pastry Cream.

It’s going to be a special celebration at the Bistro tonight — don’t miss it!

Friday-night fish dinner with Julia

We’re feauring Loup en Croûte as a special again tonight, in very limited quantities, and some of you are making it your Friday-night fish selection. Terrific! As for our cherry and apricot savarin? Each little cake is swimming in Kirsch sauce, deeply buried in fruit and whole almonds, and topped with fresh whipped cream.

It’s a gorgeous Friday summer night in Northeast Ohio — the kind you’ll wish you had back when digging out of a blizzard this coming winter — so enjoy it! We’d be honored to have you at the Bistro.

Behind the Dish: Be savvy about our savarin

On tonight’s menu, we have a Julia-inspired dessert: Savarin with Ohio-Grown Tart Cherries and Seasonal Stone Fruit with Crème Anglaise. What, exactly, is a savarin? It’s a ring-shaped, doughnutlike, yeast-based cake, much like a denser form of shortcake, with a “bready” or brioche-like texture, served with a rum or Kirsch (cherry liqueur) syrup. The dish is named for the 18th-19th century French politician, writer and gourmet Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, one of history’s most influential food writers. Some of these types of cakes are also called “babas,” as in baba au rhum.

Our take on the Julia-style savarin will feature a syrup flavored by red tart cherries, grown by Patterson Fruit Farm in nearby Chesterland in Geauga County, flavored with Kirsch. When we’re done painting it with syrup, it will be topped with more cherries, apricots and toasted almonds.

If this sounds like something you could enjoy on our patio tonight with a good cup of coffee — maybe even after having dinner with us as well — we invite you to join us for a beautiful summer night’s meal.

The inspirational power of great food

We confess! Last night at the Bistro, we jumped the gun a bit and put our veal scallops and calves’ liver dishes back on the menu for Saturday night. And it looks as if many of you thought that was a good idea, because we sold out of them! Not only that, but a number of you brought in your Julie & Julia movie ticket stubs and showed us your copies of the Julie & Julia and My Life in France books, and received complimentary desserts.

If you ordered our Julia dessert of the evening, Chocolate Mousse Cake, you had a delicious experience: a rich and fluffy chocolate dream! We served it with a fresh Ohio raspberry coulis to which we  added some Chambord, French raspberry liqueur, and topped it all off with freshly made whipped cream. Altogether, a great night for the Julia Child Project.

If you’re reading My Life in France, one aspect of Julia Child’s life story that will strike you right away is how taken Julia was by her very first meal on French soil in 1948. She and her husband had just disembarked at Le Havre from a week on a cross-Atlantic ship (how we take for granted our modern ability to get there quickly in a plane!), unloaded their station wagon from its hold, and set out for Paris, with a lunch stop in Rouen. Seated at an establishment called Restaurant La Couronne, they enjoyed a complete French meal starring sole meunière. “It was the most exciting meal of my life,” Julia rhapsodized — for her, an awakening to everything that great food can be.

Ruth herself enjoyed a similar experience once in France. To this day, she recalls a meal she enjoyed at a restaurant in the famous Louvre Museum. The poached salmon with tarragon sauce, accompanied by a simple salad of the European salad green mâche with a vinaigrette dressing, lingers in her mind as perfection itself.

Julie & Julia and My Life in France are all about the capacity for great food to create positive change in people’s lives. It’s that kind of experience we hope to bring to every guest at Bistro 185 — to pass our passion and inspiration for our work on to you. We hope you’re looking forward to our second week of menus as much as we are. Come join us tomorrow night for our Julia Soup of the Day, cream of mushroom, and carry the inspiration onward.

Some dinner before your dessert?

After kicking off our Julia Project with a soup of the day and moving on to entrees, our feature for tonight is on the sweet side: Le Gâteau Victoire au Chocolat Mousseline – Chocolate Mousse Cake, from Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home. If that sounds good enough for you to join us tonight (and when doesn’t Chocolate Mousse Cake sound good?), you’ll be faced with the dilemma: what to order for a main course? Fortunately for you, we have suggestions!

Not to skip anything, let’s take a look at appetizers first. Many of our offerings are standbys that are usually on our menu all year long and that our diners return to again and again, such as our Asian Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, potstickers, and house-cured gravlax salmon with potato pancakes. Others, however, are only recently added, and if you haven’t seen us in a while, you might want to give one of them a try. Here’s one: Medjool dates stuffed with almonds and wrapped in bacon with a reduced balsamic glaze drizzle and goat cheese crumbles. Or how about fresh white figs stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto with field greens and balsamic vinaigrette?

Now for dinner. How about a Black Angus Strip Steak with with sauteed shiitake mushroom caps and blue cheese mashed potatoes? Steak Oscar — topped with crab and shrimp — or perhaps Chilean Sea Bass treated in the same fashion? Whether it’s lamb shank, pork tenderloin medallions, roast duck with orange sauce or lobster ravioli that’s sounding good right now, you’ll love our specials.

One very seasonal dish you should know about before it’s gone: Wild Caught Alaskan Copper River Salmon with Ohio-grown English peas, haricots verts, asparagus, spinach, baby bok choy and baby redskin potatoes. It’s available only in very limited quantities, so make your reservations early.

Of course, our regular menu of comfort-food classics is always available to enjoy, so if you could go for some good old-fashioned chicken schnitzel and pierogies or a tasty Kobe beef burger, stop on by.

Whatever you’re in the mood for, we hope you’ll come in, bring a few friends to laugh and enjoy the time with, and make this Saturday night a little special.

Veal scallops, in the best of taste

One of our guests, heard commenting on tonight’s Julia Project dish, Escalopes de Veau à l’Estragon with Brown Tarragon Sauce: “Oh my, I picked the right dish!” Our presentation included spring peas and was served on the same thin, wide pappardelle pasta that accompanied our Chicken Fricassee of Tuesday night. The sauce for this dish is a bit lighter than that of the previous two entrees we have presented, but no less delicious for that, and redolent with the flavor of tarragon straight from our rooftop garden (each plate was decorated with a tarragon sprig). We hope you had the chance to enjoy; if you did, tell us about it!

Excitement is already building for tomorrow night’s dish, another masterpiece from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1: Foie de Veau Sauté with Sauce Crème a la Moutarde, Calf’s Liver with a Cream and Mustard Sauce. And don’t forget, the movie Julie & Julia opens tomorrow at area theaters. Save your ticket stub; if you make reservations for a party of four or more and show us your stub, you will receive one complimentary dessert per table. And what desserts we have to offer you: sinfully rich and sublime, whether it’s banana cream pie, raspberry-almond-and chocolate torte, carrot cake, peanut butter “s’mores” pie…save room!

We’re making plans now for which Julia Child dishes to feature in next week’s dinner specials. Watch this blog to see what’s coming next! If there’s a dish you’d especially like us to offer, make a request here — you just might see it on a future menu.