Hop in the wayback machine for our Jan. 22 “Retro Dinner”

OK, so here we are at the cusp of a new year…starting fresh, moving forward into whatever the future holds…but wait? What’s that you say? You like taking the occasional diversion into the past? You’re counting down the days until the final season of Mad Men? You enjoy dining old-school and sipping the kind of cocktails Don Draper knocked back at home (and, yes, when he was at work, all too often)? Well, if that’s what turns you on, have we got a dinner for you!

Join us Wednesday, January 22 at 6:30 p.m. for our Retro Dinner—a blast to the past that’ll make you feel like it’s the ’60s again. From dishes to drinks, our menu is five courses of throwback treats:

First Course
Retro Trio: Crabby Deviled Eggs, Spinach-Stuffed Tomato and Waldorf Salad
Cocktail: A Furlong Too Late

Second Course
Swedish Veal Meatball-Stuffed Mushroom En Croûte
Pimm’s Cup

Third Course
Seafood Newburg
Cocktail: Harvey Wallbanger

Fourth Course
Chicken-and-Leek Pie
Cocktail: Absinthe Minded Martini

Fifth Course
Lemon Meringue Tart
Cocktail: Brandy Alexandra

Cost of this trip back in time is $45 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Don’t miss your opportunity to step into the past with us—call 216.481.9635 and make your prepaid reservation now!  You may even want to dress appropriately: dig those old dresses, suits, shoes and hats out of the closet (or your parents’ or grandparents’ closet) and get your vintage fashion look on so you can enjoy time traveling in style! Either way, save your spot now, and join us for a dinner party like they just don’t make ’em anymore (except at the Bistro!).

“Mad Men” Retro Dinner: a fabulous flashback to the ’60s

Wow, if you missed the “Mad Men” retro dinner, you missed a good one! As the chronicler of these events, The Tenant apologizes for being a bit behind because of technical issues regarding the posting of the video. I had really wanted to resolve those before going ahead with the review, but it looks as if it may take a while, so I’m going to go ahead anyway by illustrating with some still shots, and I hope to be able to resolve the video problems later.

A few Bistro guests–the ladies, at least–really got into the spirit of things by dressing for the occasion, which is exactly what Marc and Ruth hoped for. The men, not so much, so we ended up choosing only a female winner of our costume contest (by applause). The prize went to a certain lady by the name of Mary from Chagrin Falls, whom you can see here in her vintage leopard hat. Mary really decked herself out, from coat (her mother’s, she said) to dress to gloves and shoes: truly a deserving winner.

As for the meal? That was a winner, too. I missed a few of the early drinks, but I must confess that the Grasshopper served with dessert was very yummy. Tasted like a liquid, intoxicating version of a Girl Scout Thin Mint. Indeed, it would have made a fine dessert all by itself!

As for the food, the throwback-style hors d’oeuvres and courses served as a reminder that even in an era when Americans were generally not all that adventurous about their dining tastes, there were still pleasures to be had. The Shrimp-Stuffed Deviled Eggs were a simple delight, each

topped with a fresh shrimp and a sprinkling of orange caviar. Sausage and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms with Herb Beurre Blanc Sauce were rich and full of flavor.

Certainly Betty Draper (at least back in the days when she was hosting dinner parties for Don rather than counting her calories as Mrs. Henry Francis) would have been proud to serve up Oysters Rockefeller like this: buttery and spinachy and bread-crumbed, with a squeeze of lemon and just enough oyster liquor to make for delicious imbibing.
Then we came to our ’60s salad. To be honest, I thought this was going to be one of those dishes that would be authentic, but so-so compared to what we usually consider a salad today. True, back in the ’60s (and even in some very traditional steakhouses today) they just loved to serve those big wedges of tasteless iceberg lettuce ladled with dressing and maybe a scattering of bacon or tomatoes or something, but weren’t they a little ho-hum? Well, not this one. What I learned here is that when it comes to a traditional iceberg wedge salad, the dressing makes all the difference between a salad that’s a yawn and a salad

that’s WOW. This Thousand Island dressing was housemade and tasted it; the fresh chopped tomatoes blended into it only made the whole thing more of a refreshing eye-opener.

The main dish was the kind of impresser you’d expect to find coming out of the kitchen if Pete and Trudy invited you over to Cos Cob for an evening: Beef Wellington. It’s beef filet in a tux, one made primarily of puff pastry, and tender and juicy inside that jacket. Gently golden brown, deliciously sauced, it fit right in with the theme of the evening.
Our grand finale was grand indeed: Individual Baked Alaska. I’d never had Baked Alaska before in any style, but I knew what it was made of, and, well, you’ll never find me arguing against ice cream and sponge cake enrobed in meringue. Ours were delightfully decadent desserts served in twin pools of raspberry coulis and chocolate sauce. Couldn’t have been better.
The Baked Alaska even served as birthday cake for one lucky diner celebrating a natal day. It certainly looked as if everyone had a truly fun time at this dinner, and the positive feedback was coming in even before the evening was over: at least a few guests want the Bistro to do it all over again, even down to the same menu! From drinks to food to classic ’60s tunes playing all night, it was filled with style and taste. A delightful time-traveling trip–no sugar cubes required (unless they were for putting in your after-dinner coffee)! One thing’s for sure: if there’s even an encore presentation of this episode of “Mad Men,” you won’t want to flip the channel. Drop in, tune in, and turn on–you’ll love it!

Party like it’s 1966 at our “Mad Men” retro dinner

Get your ’60s groove on! Thursday, May 24, at 6:30 p.m., our “Mad Men” Retro Dinner will feature six courses with six classic retro cocktails you might find in Don Draper’s bar recipe book. It’ll be close enough to his birthday–why not?

It’s completely optional, but you’re invited to dress up in ’60s costume: we’ll be giving away two $50 Bistro 185 gift certificates, one for Best Female Costume and one for Best Male Costume. So dig those miniskirts, go-go boots, classic ties, psychedelic dresses and what-have-you out of the closet (or Mom and Dad’s closet?) and do your best Don, Betty, Roger, Peggy, Pete, Megan, or just yourself as your 1960s best (or what it might have been if you were around then, or old enough…you get the idea). You just might win!

Opening Cocktail
Kir Royale

First Course
Shrimp Stuffed Deviled Eggs
Gin Rickey

Second Course
Sausage- and Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms with Herb Beurre Blanc Sauce
Cocktail: French 75

Third Course
Oysters Rockefeller
Cocktail: Negroni

Fourth Course
Retro Iceberg Wedge with Thousand Island Dressing
Cocktail: Harvey Wallbanger

Fifth Course
Beef Wellington
Bourbon Old Fashioned

Sixth Course
Individual Baked Alaska

Cost of this event is $65 plus tax and gratuity. Don’t miss out on your chance to enjoy one mindblowing retro ’60s evening! Call 216.481.9635 to make your reservations now!

“True Blood” Dinner was frighteningly good!

The Tenant has another dinner review ready at last…and this one was fun and tasty indeed! It was great to see how much people got into the theme of this dinner, whether it was dressing up for a real “evening out” or outfitting themselves Sookie Stackhouse-style with Bon Temps T-shirts and the like. It was all to enjoy a truly special combination of dishes–all red, and all perfectly prepared.

The festivities began with two dishes very suited to the Louisiana setting of the True Blood TV series: Shrimp Fritters with Red Devil Aioli and Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage, Red Beans and Rice. The shrimp fritters, tender and deliciously spiked with corn, tasted wonderful with the fiery aioli. The jambalaya also brought the Southern heat, full of spice, peppers, savory sausage, onions, and red beans in a rich red-orange sauce. To relieve the flames a bit, the first beverage on the menu was a very refreshing “Vampire Cocktail” consisting of Chambord, vodka, and cranberry juice with a slice of lime. It packed a cool and tasty punch indeed. To accompany the jambalaya, we were served glasses of Michael David Sixth Sense Syrah, an earthy, fruity wine whose pepperiness went well with the sauce.

For the third course, we got the chance to really cool down a bit. The Roasted Red Beet and Pomegranate Salad with Balsamic Drizzle brought crisp sweetness to the table, with scarlet chunks of beet and fruit accented and contrasted by the crunchy yellow pomegranate seeds. I never really ate beets as a child, so I never had any idea how delicious they could be until I tried Chef Ruth’s treatments of them–a wonderful contrast of the sweet and the savory. The wine that joined it, Dracula Zinfandel, had a nice touch of fruity sweetness, but was rich and robust as well.

Course number four was Seared Ahi Tuna with Red Cherry Sauce. Searing meant the outside of each slender slice of tuna was just lightened, while the center retained the rich red color of fresh tuna. The slices sat in a pool of sauce enhanced with a touch of Asian flavoring: five-spice powder and star anise. This was tuna like I’ve never had it before, and very tasty. Its wine pairing was the single exception to the rule of the evening, Vampire Chardonnay from Vampire Vineyards. This light, breezy wine fit in nicely at this point of the menu and went well with the fish.

For the fifth course, beef took the spotlight, with roasted medallions of tenderloin in red wine sauce, accompanied by root vegetable mash. The medallions were perfectly cooked and the wine sauce was just right. The vegetable mash was complex and interesting, a change from mashed potatoes with a fresh, almost minty kind of touch. The wine for this course was Vampire Pinot Noir, full-bodied and beefy enough to sit beside it very nicely.

Finally, along came dessert, the promised Red Velvet Cake with Raspberry Coulis. Here, I think many of us expected a traditional devil’s-food cake colored red, but we got a tasty twist: more like a pale sponge cake colored bright red by coulis, topped with fondant and garnished with raspberries (both real fresh berries and a German candy raspberry on top!) and layered with and surrounded by more coulis. Yummy! Our dessert wine was Villa M. Rosso Brachetto, a rosy-colored sweet wine with an airy, sparkling feeling and taste.

Any questions as to whether an all-red six-course menu could embody enough variety and richness of contrast in flavors and experiences were certainly put to rest by this meal. Chef Ruth came up with a “toothsome” Halloween-season fest for all! The “bon temps” definitely “rolled” at the True Blood Dinner!

Join us for a bite at our True Blood Dinner Oct. 27

We wanna do…um, actually, good things with you!

What’s the story behind our theme for October’s special dinner at the Bistro?
Well, if you’ve ever had a chance to talk with Chef Ruth about the topic of TV, one thing you know is that her favorite show is HBO’s True Blood. She can’t get enough of the saga of the vampires, telepaths, and shapeshifters that inhabit Bon Temps, Louisiana, where the good times bleed as much as they roll. So what better theme for the month of Halloween than a dinner based on True Blood?

It wasn’t long before Ruth came up with the perfect tribute: a dinner composed entirely of red dishes and red libations, from appetizers to dessert. And quite a few of them are inspired by classic Louisiana cuisine. Here’s what’s on the menu:

First Course
Shrimp Fritters with Red Devil Aioli

Second Course
Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage
Red Beans and Rice

Third Course
Roasted Red Beet and Pomegranate Salad
Balsamic Drizzle

Fourth Course
Seared Ahi Tuna with Red Cherry Sauce

Fifth Course
Roasted Beef Tenderloin Medallion with Red Wine Sauce
Root Vegetable Mash

Sixth Course
Red Velvet Cake with Raspberry Coulis

The dinner starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. on October 27 and is $65 per person, tax and gratuity additional. But the dinner itself isn’t the whole story. Sign up for this one and you can earn yourself a nice treat while helping up to three other people — and possibly even saving their lives.

As you may have heard, right now our region is in desperate need of blood. This time of year is often a low time for donations, and the need is critical. Because when it comes to “true blood,” there is no substitute!

That’s why, when you register for the Bistro 185 True Blood Dinner and donate blood between now and October 27, you’ll earn a $25 gift certificate good for a future visit to the Bistro. Simply show us your Red Cross blood donor card indicating the date of your donation to receive your gift certificate.

To make a donation appointment or for more information, call 1.800.RED.CROSS or visit the Red Cross blood donation Web site. To make donating easier, we’ll be publicizing locations and times of blood donation opportunities over the next month here on the blog. You can also find donation locations and times near your area on that site by plugging in your ZIP code. (The locations and times we list here on the blog will be based on our ZIP code, 44119.)

Here are a few locations you can take advantage of tomorrow!

Donation Locations and Times

Sept. 29
Cleveland Clinic Surgical Center
9500 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

200 Public Square (former BP Building), Cleveland
10 a.m.-2 p.m.

John Carroll University
20700 North Park Blvd., University Heights
Noon-7 p.m.

Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
1:30-8 p.m.

We’ll continue to post blood donation locations and times here on the blog up until the time of the True Blood Dinner. Even if you can’t attend the dinner, we’re hoping you will consider the critical need for blood and make a donation.

Come “Join Us for a Bite” on October 27 and help your community! Call 216.481.9635 and make your reservation today — then call the Red Cross and schedule your blood donation appointment. “True Blood: There Is No Substitute. Donate Now!”