Toast the New Year at our Dec. 30 Champagne Dinner

It’s time for us to break out the bubbly again and toast a new year…and you’re invited to join us. Our Champagne Dinner Monday, December 30, at 6:30 p.m. will pair five sumptuous dishes with five sparkling wines that will lighten your spirits and float your taste buds away. Here’s what we have planned:

Aperitif

First Course
Wild Mushroom Tart
Black Truffle Vinaigrette
Wine: Baron Fuente Rosé Champagne

Second Course
Lobster Bisque with Butter-Poached Lobster Medallions
Wine: Collalto Extra Dry Prosecco

Third Course
Sous Vide Rack of Lamb
Baby Arugula Salad
Polenta Cake
Wine: Graham Beck Brut

Fourth Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop
Coconut-Lemongrass Saffron Broth
Wine: Baron Fuente 2004 Champagne

Fifth Course
Boule de Neige
Wine: Graham Beck Demi Sec

Cost of our end-of-year feast is $80 per person plus tax and gratuity. After you call to make your prepaid reservation, you will receive an email confirming your reservation and payment. Sorry, but we cannot accept any cancellations after Tuesday, December 24.

We look forward to seeing you at this very special dinner event. Don’t miss out; call 216.481.9635 to reserve your spot before it sells out!

Gift cards and special events to make your season bright!

We’ve got plenty going on at the Bistro for you this holiday season–and one of our special events is going on today and Friday to make your shopping easier, so jump on it right away!

GIFT CARD SALE: Buy $100 in Bistro 185 gift cards during our two-day-only Holiday Gift Card Bash on today, “Manic Monday,” or on “Festive Friday,” December 21, and you’ll get $25 in gift cards free! What a great way to treat those hard-to-buy-for foodies on your list who seem to already have everything, and maybe even treat yourself!  Keep in mind, you must buy your cards either today or this Friday to get this special deal–in the restaurant only.

BUBBLY BANQUET: Are you ready to party to celebrate another year’s end? We hope so, because we have two terrific opportunities lined up for you to do it! Our annual Champagne Dinner, Thursday, December 27 at 6:30 p.m., will have you enjoying five courses of the finest of cuisine accompanied by magnificent champagnes. On the menu:

First Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop
Meyer Lemon Risotto
Champagne: Cremant de Limoux Rose

Second Course
Black Truffle Beef Tenderloin Filet
Sauteed Garlic Greens, Red Wine and Vanilla-Scented Poached Pear
Champagne: Vintage 2004 Brut

Third Course
Hearts of Palm, Fennel, Mushroom Salad
White French Vinaigrette
Champagne: Vintage 1998 Brut

Fourth Course
Butter-Poached Lobster in Puff Pastry with Lobster Sauce
Champagne: Rose Dolores

Fifth Course
Chocolate Pots de Creme
Champagne: Moscato d’Asti

The Champagne Dinner is $100 per person plus tax and gratuity. Make plans now to spend an evening floating to Happyland on the bubbles–call 216.481.9635 and reserve your prepaid place at the table!

NEW YEAR’S FEAST: We won’t be out of champagne when our special dinner is over–nor of fantastic food. We’re planning a menu of exclusive offerings from our regular selection of fare plus some very special additions–including Seafood Pot Pie, Rack of Lamb, and Veal Chop–at three seatings on Monday, December 31. Seating times are 5, 7 and 9 p.m. We’ll cap off the festivities with a champagne toast at midnight. To reserve your seating time, call 216.481.9635. Happy New Year!

IN THE NEWS: Did you see our recent writeup in the News-Herald’s article on vegan and gluten-free dining? If not, here it is. We’ll be seeing you vegans (and non-vegan fans of our vegan fare) for our “Down On the Bayou” dinner this Wednesday!

Champagne Dinner puts a sparkling finish on another year

There’s no doubt about it, to my mind: while each of the Bistro’s wine and beer dinners and vegan multicourse feasts is unique, there’s something extraordinary about the champagne/sparkling wine dinner that serves as the finale of the special-dinner year. It’s as if all the stops are pulled out in order to create the ultimate elegant dining experience. As the Tenant, I have missed only one since moving here in 2008, and I know they’re something to be especially anticipated. In that sense, not to mention all others, last night’s did not disappoint!

The pleasure began with an unannounced aperitif before dinner, a Lamarca Prosecco served in the only coupe glasses of the evening. This wine set the table, you might say, for all that came after. The couple who served as my dining companions for the evening were very excited, as, while they’ve enjoyed many a dining experience at the Bistro, this was their first time at a special dinner; normally, her job and early hours make it difficult to attend weeknight events, but she has the week off. I’m pleased to report we all had a fantastic time and that each of the dishes and wines was a pleaser indeed.

The first dish, Escargot en Croute, featured buttery, garlicky snails tucked into flaky beds of golden phyllo dough accented with a Pernod cream sauce, topped with creme fraiche and a dollop of orange caviar, long chives laid atop to finish. A top-notch presentation and the escargot was perfectly tender and delicious in its saucy, garlicky bed. The rather tart Dr. L Riesling Sec, a sparkler from Germany, accented it very well.

Course number two would conjure up a few memories of the beer dinner earlier this month, but oh, with what a difference! Once again, Duck Confit, a perfectly cooked crispy leg of duck, made an appearance, but this time in combination with a pile of thin, crispy duck-fat fries very similar to those that laid the foundation for the poutine from that dinner. This time, though, instead of being graced with cheese curds and gravy, the frites bore just the slightest touch of fragrant rosemary and sea salt, and were served with a dollop of the most flavorful, amazing Roasted Garlic Aioli (mayonnaise) one could imagine. If Ruth put this in jars and sold it, I’d be first in line to buy it! It tasted heavenly with both the duck and the fries. The wine chosen for the course, Champagne Laurent-Perrier Brut, could not have been a better choice with its fresh, crisp flavor.

I’d already warned my dining companions that if they’d never experienced a Bistro 185 scallop before, they were in for a treat with the third course: a scallop guaranteed to be cooked just right and full of flavor. The Scallop Rockefeller lived up to my advance billing in every way. Traditionally, a Scallops Rockefeller recipe calls for spinach, onion, garlic, lemon, butter, Pernod and hollandaise sauce. This variation had the rich cooked-to-wilting spinach and a delicate lemon shallot sabayon, but included a welcome addition in the form of crunchy little bacon lardons–which ramped up the appeal even higher. Each scallop was presented on a real scallop shell resting on a bed of lettuce: score 10 for presentation! To drink, we were poured Ayala Brut Zero Dosage, a highly unusual “brut nature” sparkling wine that is bone-dry with no sugar added during fermentation. As we discovered, this makes it a very appealing accompaniment to seafood (not to mention nice for those counting their calories–although, of course, at a dinner like this, we were not).

The fourth course was a classic of the kind that I like to believe anyone can appreciate–even the least adventurous diners of all and those who like to stick to a “meat and potatoes” diet. With French Braised Short Rib and Root Vegetable Mash with Wild Mushroom Saute, you simply cannot lose. As always, the Bistro short rib was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the mashers rich and flavorful with a combination of winter root veggies in the savory mushroom sauce. Our sparkling wine for this dish was another Italian, Adami Garbel 13 Prosecco, with a hint of dry tartness that set off the dish beautifully.

Our dessert for the meal was a special treat. It was described as Boule de Neige (“Snowball”) with Hazelnuts and Raspberries, and it arrived at the table as a mound of whipped-cream-covered, dense, flourless chocolate cake surrounded by a raspberry coulis and garnished with ground hazelnuts and fresh raspberries. What a dream! Ruth says she got the recipe from a French chef, but that’s all she’ll say about it, and after tasting it I can understand why she isn’t too eager to divulge the secret. This one should be a regular in the dessert case all winter long–if not summer! Who says snowballs are only for December through March? When they’re made of chocolate, hazelnuts and whipped cream, there really should be an exception. Our final wine was a Norton Demi Sec from Argentina, just sweet enough to go nicely with the dessert–although this dessert would go just as well with coffee, water or on its own!

This year’s version of the Bistro’s Champagne Dinner definitely left us feeling bubbly and happy. I certainly do hope you were there and enjoyed it as much as I did. Either way, though, you can still enjoy a magical evening of special cuisine and sparkling wine–make reservations for a sitting at the Bistro on New Year’s Eve and start thinking about which entree appeals to you most from the special menu for the evening. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to have a fabulous time!

A little preview of tonight’s Champagne Dinner…

Just to whet your appetite…

The escargot have been shelled…

Here they are, waiting to go…

The duck confit is cooked to crispy-skinned perfection…

…and the fries are sliced and ready to be cooked and served up hot tonight!

See you soon at what is sure to be an incredible feast!

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!