Sweets for your sweetie: our fourth annual Chocolate and Wine Valentine’s Dinner

Love is a wonderful thing…whether it’s for another person, or for chocolate. If the one you love also loves chocolate — and even more so if you both have a passion for it — you may already know that for the past three years, the Bistro has been celebrating Valentine’s Day with a special wine dinner in which each course incorporates some form of chocolate. If you do know, you’ll want to make plans now to join us for our Fourth Annual Chocolate and Wine Valentine Dinner Thursday, February 13 at 6:30 p.m. And if you don’t, well…now you do!

Wouldn’t treating your loved one to a complete dinner full of chocolate delights beat a box of candy any day? If just the idea isn’t intriguing enough, here’s the menu:

First Course
Hazelnut- and Panko-Crusted Middle Eastern Baby Lamb Lollipop Chop
Arugula-Cherry Tomato
White Chocolate Vinaigrette

Second Course
Seared Scallop
Tangerine-Chocolate-Balsamic Drizzle

Third Course
Risotto Cake
Cocoa-Cayenne-Dusted Shrimp

Fourth Course
Sous Vide Duck Breast
Chocolate-Cherry Cordial Sauce

Fifth Course
Chocolate and Banana Ravioli
White Chocolate Shavings
Crème Anglaise

If you haven’t yet joined us for one of our chocolate dinners, you may be thinking “Chocolate in every course? Wouldn’t that be an awful lot of sweetness?” Surprisingly, no. Without the addition of sugar, chocolate and cocoa (both brown and white) act more as flavoring or spices than as sweeteners. Our chocolate-flavored entrees (other than dessert) are more savory than sweet —and they’re a revelation in flavor.

Watch this space for wine pairings to come. You’ll fall in love with them, too!

Cost of this candy crush of an evening is $60 per person, plus tax and gratuity, by prepaid reservation. Don’t think too long about whether to call 216.481.9635 and make one…just go with your heart. Then go, with your heart’s desire.

Give your Valentine a sweet treat at our Valentine’s Chocolate Wine Dinner!

It’s that time of year again…time to start thinking about hearts, flowers and romance. At the Bistro, our suggestion is always: If your beloved adores chocolate, be imaginative! Don’t settle for a heart-shaped candy box when you can give your Valentine the full chocolate experience: our Valentine’s Chocolate Wine Dinner. On Valentine’s Eve, Wednesday, February 13, at 6:30, we’re serving six full courses (plus an amuse-bouche) of chocolate-based and chocolate-kissed delights, each paired with a wine sure to kindle the fires of passion:

Aperitif: Juve y Camps Cava

First Course
Butter-Poached Lobster Tail
White Chocolate-Saffron Sauce with Pappardelle Pasta
Wine: Icardi Cortese

Second Course
Pan-Seared Duck Breast
Orange-Chipotle Mole Sauce
Wine: Le Cigare Volant

Third Course
Grilled Baby Hearts of Romaine Caesar Salad
Wine: One Last Kiss White Blend

Fourth Course
American Kobe Sirloin
Shiitake Mushroom Cap
Black Truffle Chocolate Drizzle
Wine: Jim Barry Cover Drive Cab

Fifth Course
Hazelnut–Panko Crusted Day Boat Scallop
Nutella Sauce
Wine: Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc

Sixth Course
Chef’s Whim Trio of Chocolate-Inspired Desserts
Wine: Bugey Botex Du Cedron

The cost of our rapturous salute to chocolate and love is $100 plus tax and gratuity. Reserve your place and delight your Valentine by calling 216.481.9635. It’ll be a sweet soiree indeed!

Valentine Chocolate Dinner: everything your heart desires

One thing you should know about me, The Tenant, by now is that I adore chocolate. Our love affair has been a very long one, and shows no signs of ending, ever. So, you could say the Bistro 185 Valentine’s Day Chocolate Dinner is made for me.  Certainly, this dinner didn’t cause me to fall out of love; it only deepened our existing relationship.

To sweeten the deal further, the Bistro’s choice of wine accompaniment for this dinner was all from one source: R&B Cellars of Alameda, California, the city’s largest family-owned winery, started by jazz musicians whose passion for their music is reflected in the names they bestow upon their products. It seems only fitting that music suited to love and romance be connected to the wines served at this event.

Things got off to a perfect start with the first course, Pappardelle Pasta with Lobster in a White Chocolate-Saffron Cream Sauce. I’m not even a big fan of white chocolate, but the sauce on this dish was just perfect: light and creamy but with a tiny, subtle touch of sweetness, so complementary for the buttery lobster meat. The wine, too, could not have been a better choice: Serenade in Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, a just as smooth and buttery as the dish itself.

From seafood we went to a hearty, beefy dish, without a misstep along the way. I’d had a taste of the Chocolate Merlot Demi-Glace that was going to accompany the Espresso and Cocoa-Rubbed Medallion of Beef Tenderloin earlier in the afternoon, and dreamed of how well it would go with the beef. It did! Unbelievable. The meat was cooked sous vide to slightly pink perfection on the inside, so it was tender as velvet. The Arugula and Roasted Red Peppers alongside were like a mini-salad, spiced up with a gently astringent vinaigrette. Our wine for the course was the hearty Saxy Syrah, deeply fruity and peppery and just right.

At the Bistro, even the salad courses are something out of the usual, and this one certainly lived up to its reputation. I’d never had a Chopped Caesar Salad quite like this one before. Not with shaved white cheddar cheese streaked with chocolate throughout the cheese itself, and sprinkled with cocoa nibs! (The cheese on its own is unutterably delicious. I could eat it by itself.) And Ruth had found a unique way to add the customary anchovies to the salad: in the form of a perfect little fritter. Unique and delicious–a hot and savory contrast to the cool salad and that heavenly cheese. The wine alongside was Swingsville Zin, which Chris Victor of Superior Wine distributors explained to us is made with grapes from 70-year-old vines, combined with just a bit of petite syrah. I don’t know whether it’s the vines, the syrah or what, but this was one plummy, smooth-tasting Zin.

We had one more meat course to go, and it was something special. The Lamb Chop Milanese, a lollipop-style lamb chop, arrived on its bed of Mexican Hot Chocolate Sauce pillowed by a light and airy Pumpkin Flan. This was a delightful mixture of flavors: savory lamb, sweet chocolate, orange and a hint of spice. (It was more like “Hot Chocolate” than “Mexican Hot”–a phrase that tends to make people think of chilies and the like.) Appropriately enough for the flavor blend of the dish, the wine was a true blended wine: The Improviser, a spicy, fruity melding of Zin and a number of other varietals.

Only dessert awaited us after that, and when the dinner is chocolate, you know the dessert is going to be chocolately fabulous. Our Chocolate Bouchee with Strawberries combined tender pastry with chocolate ganache and salted caramel on a bed of strawberry coulis, crowned with a huge, fat, juicy sweet strawberry coated in milk chocolate and drizzled in white chocolate. Oh yes. This hit the spot. What a finish. Our dessert wine was Fortissimo Port, a wine made from Portuguese varietals grown in California and made in the traditional Portuguese manner. Just the right partner for our chocolate conclusion!

Should Ruth decide to explore the potentials of chocolate again next Valentine’s season, all I can say is: if you’ve enjoyed any of her chocolate dinners thus far, you know you’ll sign up again, and if you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to do so, especially if you’re a chocolate lover like me. You’ll discover new depths to your passion that you never before knew. And that’s a satisfying romance, whether you’re dining with a partner or solo. A Bistro 185 chocolate dinner is sure to satisfy your palate and steal away your heart.

Take a sneak peek inside our chocolate factory for tonight’s wine dinner!

Wow. If your sweetheart decided to treat you this Valentine’s Day to reservations at the Bistro for tonight’s Chocolate Dinner, you’re never going to be satisfied with Russell Stover or a Whitman’s Sampler again. Here’s a look at what we’re getting ready right now…

Lobster awaits its moment to be bedded on pappardelle pasta and bathed with…

…our White Chocolate Saffron Cream Sauce. Beef tenderloins are cooking in their sous vide bath…

…after which they’ll receive their finishing touches and be served with our Chocolate Merlot Demi-Glace…

Our Caesar salad lettuce is chopped and awaiting the addition of cacao nibs and delicious slivers of White Cheddar cheese with veins of chocolate running through it…

The Mexican Hot Chocolate Sauce is ready for our Lamb Chops Milanese…

…and they’re going to be accompanied by some interesting touches…pumpkin cremes and anchovy fritters:

…and finally, the dessert everyone will be waiting for, the Chocolate Bouchee with Strawberries topped with a Chocolate Ganache and a touch of salted caramel:

Does it look good? It’s going to taste even better! So, whether you’re arriving with someone special, a group of friends, or on your own, you’re going to experience serious romance tonight. Step aside, Willy Wonka–this is chocolate only an adult could love, and you’ve got the golden ticket to enjoy it all!

Think outside the heart-shaped box: treat your sweetie to our Valentine’s Chocolate Dinner

Last year, our Valentine’s Day Chocolate Dinner proved that there can be much, much more to a romantic chocolate treat than candy in a box…or even the ubiquitous chocolate fountain. This year, we’re proving it again with five chocolate-inspired courses paired with five just-right wines. Join us Wednesday, February 15, at 6:30 p.m. to enjoy the savory as well as the sweet side of the cacao bean:

First Course
Pappardelle Pasta with Lobster in a White Chocolate-Saffron Cream Sauce
Wine: Serenade Sauvignon Blanc

Second Course
Espresso and Cocoa-Rubbed Medallion of Beef Tenderloin with Chocolate Merlot Demi-Glace
Arugula and Roasted Red Peppers
Wine: R & B Saxy Syrah

Third Course
Chopped Caesar Salad with Chocolate Nibs
Wine: Swingsville Zin

Fourth Course
Lamb Chop Milanese with a Mexican Hot Chocolate Sauce
Wine: The Improviser

Fifth Course
Chocolate Bouchee with Strawberries
Chocolate Ganache
Wine: Fortissimo Port

Cost of the dinner is $75 per person plus tax and gratuity. This one is bound to be popular, so don’t delay–call 216.481.9635 to reserve your spot now and show your Valentine a truly sweet and romantic evening.

New year, new events: mark your calendar and make reservations now!

We’re barely into the new year, and we’ve already got some very special events planned in the near, near future for the Bistro. Plan to join us for these soon:

VEGAN NIGHT GOES ASIAN: Vegan Night returns with a special Asian flavor! This $30 Asian Vegan Night Dinner Thursday, January 19, served from 5 to 9:30 p.m., will feature these three courses:

First Course
Lemongrass-Ginger-Miso Soup with Shiitake Mushroom Wonton

Second Course
Panko-Nori and Sesame-Crusted Eggplant Cutlets
Edamame–Mint Sauce
Jasmine Rice
Sauté of Asian Vegetables

Dessert Course
Coconut–Mint Panna Cotta
Fresh Berry Garnish

FAT CITY: If you’re a wine lover, you know there are times when only a “big fat red” will do. Enjoy a sampling of five top-notch red wines paired with five equally robust courses at our Big Fat Red Wine Dinner Thursday, January 26 at 6:30 p.m. For $100 per person, you’ll enjoy these sumptuous dishes and wines:

First Course
Foie Gras French Toast with Fig Balsamic Reduction
Wine: Chateau Haut Beausejour 2007

Second Course
Medallion of Beef Tenderloin with Black Truffle Hotel Butter
Potato and Onion Galette
Wine: Salus Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Third Course
House-Cured Gravlax with Eggplant Caponata
Wine: Merryvale Profile 2006

Fourth Course
Duck Confit Bolognese with Polenta
Wine: Archery Summit Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2007

Fifth Course
Lemon Tart with Italian Meringue
Wine: Dow’s Crusted Port

MORE CHOCOLATE TREATS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY: Our Chocolate Dinner during last February’s Valentine’s season was so popular that we’re doing it again–with a brand-new selection of dishes. Once more, rather than giving that same-old box of candy, you’ll be able to share chocolate delights with your Valentine via a truly original and romantic dinner. Join us at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 15, for our Chocolate Valentine’s Dinner and see just how versatile chocolate can be! Watch this space for our menu, coming soon. Oh, and if you missed last year’s Chocolate Dinner, take a look at this video to get an idea of what it was like:

As you can see, our upcoming events offer something for everyone. Call 216.481.9635 now to ensure your reservations!

Enjoy our 3-for-$30 menu during Cleveland Restaurant Week!

It’s Cleveland Restaurant Week, and Ruth is especially excited because she’s just been elected to the board of Cleveland Independents, the group that sponsors this annual opportunity for you to sample our unique, locally based restaurants at special prices.

If you’re a loyal Bistro 185 guest, you already know what we can do, and we hope you’ll plan to join us during Restaurant Week for more. If you’ve never visited before and are thinking of giving us a try, we’re eager to have you stop by and sample the pleasures of dinner with us.

Plan now to come in Monday through Friday (through November 11) and choose your three-course feast by selecting one from each category:

Salads and Starters
Soup of the Day
Chicken and Vegetable Pot Stickers
Field Greens Salad
House Tempura Vegetables

Chicken Parmesan with Pasta Marinara
Slab St. Louis Ribs, House Fries and Slaw
Medallions of Beef Filet, Hollandaise Sauce, Mashers and House Tempura Vegetables
Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna with Sesame Peanut Noodles
Sautéed Walleye with Hollandaise Sauce, Mashers and House Tempura Vegetables
Pan-Roasted Salmon with Pecan Butter, Sweet Mash and House Tempura Vegetables
Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage and Chicken, Topped with Rice and Black Beans

Key Lime Pie
Coconut Cream Pie
House-Made Ice Cream
Chocolate Crème Brulee
Warm Chocolate Molten Cake

Please note that entrees are not available for sharing and there are no substitutions; price also does not include beverages, tax or gratuity. The $3-for-$30 menu is available dine-in only.

If it’s been a while since you had a nice night out and you want to support the local economy when you plan that occasion…if you’re tired of the chain restaurant experience, but afraid that any “tab for two” at a one-of-a-kind place will end up in the three figures…or you just want to get together with some friends over a truly first-class meal without breaking the bank…you owe it to yourself to come to the Bistro and see how far we can stretch your $30! We know you’ll come back!

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!

“True Blood” Dinner a toothsome treat!

Well, this Tenant has sure had her hands full (not to mention her stomach) attending all these amazing Bistro events this fall, but they’re all so good that doing so is inevitably a pleasure. This year’s new edition of Chef Ruth’s “True Blood” dinner was certainly no exception. Once again, she amazed us all with the concoctions cooked up for this repast. Let’s review!

Things got off to a pleasing start with our aperitif, Toffoli Pink Shadow Prosecco. This was a lovely Italian red sparkling wine with a light berry flavor that prepared us well for the first course, Rare Ahi Tuna on Organic Greens with Blood Orange and Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Not every dinner begins with a light dish, but this one did, and it was perfect. The tuna, of course, was fresh as could be and the vinaigrette added a spicy sweet-and-sour touch. The wine chosen for this course was Shingle Black Bubbles Sparkling Shiraz, yet another bubbly red. I’d never tasted such a light-bodied, sparkling Shiraz before, at least not that I can recall, so this fruity pleaser from Australia was a revelation.

Next came a dish that is usually served more casually in New Orleans, an Oyster Po’ Boy sandwich, breaded and fried oysters tucked into a long roll with a spicy remoulade sauce. This one was accompanied by a Red Cabbage Slaw with, I think, a touch of jicama added. Just delicious! I think I could have eaten about three of these sandwiches if I didn’t have three more courses to eat. Our drink for this course was Bacon Bloody Mary Shots, a tasty little vial of tomato juice combined with bacon-infused vodka and I’m not sure what else, but it was good.

The third course was the True Blood Tenderloin, a lovely red slab of rare beef sauced and stabbed through the middle with the only thing you can stab anything with on “True Blood” night: a tiny wooden stake. Alongside was a little lagniappe not mentioned on the original menu: a mound of Louisiana-style “Bloody Red Beans and Rice.” Perfect! The meat was soft as velvet and full of flavor, and the red beans and rice added a touch of spice to the plate. The Sly Dog Cabernet served alongside, from Lake County, California, was just right: a smooth complement without being too heavy.

The final savory dish really brought the bayou-style spice to this meal: Creole Shrimp and Grits. The perfectly cooked shrimp lay on the fluffy grits in a pool of rich tomato sauce flavored with onion, peppers, spices and andouille sausage chunks. My dinner partners could not stop raving about this one. They want to see it on the regular menu, and I can’t blame them. Again, the wine served with this course was not particularly heavy: Howling Moon Old Vine Zinfandel, a California red, was more spicy than weighty.

For dessert, we enjoyed three very different kinds of deliciousness. First was the unbelievable Pecan Pie, in which the taste of the huge, perfectly toasted nuts shone through in the ideal balance of sweet and nutty. Next was the scoop of Sweet Potato Ice Cream, full of that delicious fall flavor, not unlike pumpkin in many ways, just a delight. Then there was that yummy little lagniappe with the pink topping: a chocolate cup topped with whipped cream flavored with cinnamon red-hot candies. Ruth called these “Red Devils.” I adore cinnamon red hots, so I loved this. Delicious cranberry drizzle snaked all around the plate and made everything taste even better. To drink, we enjoyed tiny glasses of Blood Orange Chocolate Sabra, which has to be one of the most delicious liqueurs ever made.

One thing’s for sure: when Ruth and Marc invite you to the Bistro for a “bite,” you go home happy. “True Blood, Season 2” did good things to everyone, and even kept with that Louisiana tradition of including a little something extra and unexpected to delight us. Are they already thinking about new ways to go for our jugular next year? Guess we’ll have to wait and see!

Take another “bite” of Bon Temps with “True Blood: Season 2”!

[Disclaimer: The video above contains adult situations. Not intended for viewing by children.]

It was a sellout last October, and it’s back again–the dinner that brought a bite of Sookie Stackhouse’s world into the Bistro to raise everyone’s Halloween spirits. And this year’s “True Blood Dinner” (aka “True Blood Season 2”), although it’s shape-shifted a bit, once again features a full menu of all-red toothsome delights. Chef Ruth has taken care to incorporate New Orleans-style dishes into this year’s offerings to ensure the proper Cajun/Creole atmosphere as depicted in the HBO series. And, like the show itself, the dinner includes plenty of “spirits”–in this case, libations from aperitif to dessert liqueur–in keeping with the red/”blood” theme:

Toffoli Pink Shadow Prosecco

First Course
Rare Ahi Tuna
Organic Greens
Blood Orange and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Wine: Shingleback Black Bubbles Sparkling Shiraz

Second Course
Oyster Po’Boy
Spicy Remoulade Sauce
Red Cabbage Slaw
Cocktail: Bacon Bloody Mary Shots

Third Course
True Blood Tenderloin–Rare
Wine: Sly Dog Cabernet

Fourth Course
Creole Shrimp and Grits
Wine: Howling Moon Old Vine Zinfandel

Fifth Course
Pecan Pie
Sweet Potato Ice Cream
Cranberry Drizzle
Liqueur: Blood Orange Chocolate Sabra

Cost of the dinner is $60 per person plus tax and gratuity. If you were here for last year’s, you’ll want to return (and feel free to wear your True Blood shirt, if you have one, to get into the spirit of things!); if you missed it, you’ll want to make sure you don’t this time. Call 216.481.9635 now and make your reservation for our “witching hour,” 6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 27–and get ready for a dinner sure to be “bloody marvelous”!