Enjoy a “magnifique” French July at the Bistro…it’s as easy as “un, deux”

Quel magnifique juillet! What a magnificent July the Bistro has in store for you! Whether you’ve ever been to France or you’ve never even eaten a French fry, you’re going to love what we’ve got in store. Next month, we’ve scheduled two Gallic feasts with cuisine that will leave you saying “Oo là là!”

First, celebrate Bastille Day with us. Yes, it’s July 14, but we’re celebrating it Wednesday, July 17 at 6:30 p.m. We’ll pair our five courses of French delights with five French wines (to be announced):

First Course
Blini with Smoked Salmon and Caviar
Crème Fraîche

Second Course
Celery Root Remoulade
Herb-and-Cream-Baked Local Organic Egg with Black-Truffle-Toasted Brioche

Third Course
Filet of Beef au Poivre

Fourth Course
Shrimp Provençal
Black Beluga Lentils

House-Made Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce

Cost of this one-night excursion to France is $60 per person plus tax and gratuity—a bargain fare indeed for a gourmet journey!

Next on our travels…a vegan excursion to the South of France. Whether you eat vegan already or just want to try it out, you’ll have a second opportunity to delight in the flavors of France at our South of France Vegan Dinner Wednesday, July 24 between 5 and 8:30 p.m. This 3-for-$30 offering stars this trio of courses that will make you feel as if you’ve just strolled in from sunning on the beach in Nice:

Chilled Potato-Leek Soup

Local and Organic Ratatouille with Couscous

Mixed Local Berry Tart
Silken Tofu
Lemon Sauce

Are you ready for a tasty trip or two? Call 216.481.9635 and make your prepaid reservation today! Sacre bleu, it’s going to be délicieux!

Celebrate Julia Child’s 100th birthday with us!

Wednesday, August 15, will be the 100th anniversary of Julia Child’s birthday. What a remarkable woman she was! She enjoyed an interesting career, married later in life than most women did in her era, moved with her husband when he took a new job in an unfamiliar place, and, feeling bored, found herself casting about for something to occupy her time there. She found it, in her love of great food and the fascinating culture that surrounded her. She taught Americans how to cook French…eliminating the scary, inhibiting aspects of a challenging cuisine through she sheer boldness of her personality, both in the pages of her cookbooks and, eventually, on our TVs. And not only did she help us find the courage of our convictions as she massaged chickens, flipped potato pancakes, and (sometimes) blowtorched cheese, she taught us all just how delicious it is to take a broader perspective on life. In the clip above, she displays her gift for culinary improvisation to David Letterman (who maybe isn’t as appreciative as he should be). Stove isn’t working? Make Beef Tartare Au Gratin!

We had a ball celebrating Julia’s unique contributions to American cuisine in the summer of 2009 with our “Julia Project,” and at 6:30 p.m. on August 15 we’re bringing back the spirit of Julia for one more special night. Our Julia Child’s 100th Birthday Wine Dinner won’t include Beef Tartare Au Gratin, but it will include these spectacular dishes from her repertoire:

First Course
Potage Parmentiere (Potato and Leek Soup)
Black Truffle Pearls
Wine: Villa Pozzi Pinot Grigio

Second Course
Menage Trois Le Canard (Duck 3-Way)
Wine: DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages

Third Course
Boeuf Bourguignon
Bacon Lardons
Pearl Onions
Shiitake Mushrooms
Wine: Hob Nob Cabernet

Fourth Course
Fruits de Mer en Croute
Sauce Homard
(Seafood with Lobster Sauce in Puff Pastry)
Wine: Josh Cellars Chardonnay

Fifth Course
Mousse au Chocolat
Wine: Cristalino Brut Rose Cava

The cost of our dinner will be $80 per person, plus tax and gratuity. To get you in the mood, here’s a real gem of a video in which Julia gets serious with beef in a dish we’ll be featuring. It’s the very first episode of The French Chef, in which she shows us how to make Boeuf Bourguignon. (Note she explains how to peel the pearl onions. Isn’t it nice that today you can buy them peeled in a bag from the supermarket freezer?) Enjoy…then call 216.481.9635 and make your reservations for an evening you won’t forget!

French Wine Dinner: Oo la la, it was delicious!

As the Tenant sits down to review yet another special Bistro dinner, she is reminded of the first time she ever sat down to a classic French meal: when she was in high school French Club, dining with her classmates at a lovely old French restaurant in Shaker Heights with the not-very-French-sounding name of The Wagon Wheel. Perhaps some of you are old enough to remember it. I recall the name as the subject of much joking at the time; we were from Lake County and lived close enough to Geneva-on-the-Lake that the most familiar restaurant to us with the name “Wagon Wheel” was a burgers-pizza-and-beer joint near the beach. Classmates who heard the name of the restaurant we had selected for our club dinner thought we were going to the one in Geneva, and joked that the only French food we’d find there would be “French fries.”

I tell this story only because sometimes things come full circle in the most amazing way. One of the courses we dined upon that evening in Shaker–the Wagon Wheel there turned out to be very French–was Coquilles St. Jacques, baked in a scallop shell. It was amazing. And, as it happened, some time ago I was in the Bistro, and happened to overhear that the recipe for the Bistro’s own version of that dish, one of its most popular starters, was influenced by none other than…the old Wagon Wheel. What a coincidence!

While Coquilles St. Jacques was not on the menu at Wednesday’s French Wine Dinner, it certainly carried on in the tradition of that long-ago French meal I so enjoyed…while introducing me to at least one type of cuisine I had not yet experienced. And it was all paired with very enjoyable wines provided by Heidelberg Distributing Co. of Independence.

Our first wine at this dinner was an aperitif: Cremant de Loire, a truly charming sparkling wine that started things off well indeed. From there, we made a little trip back to the Bistro’s Julia Project with one of its very popular dishes from that era: Potage Parmentier, or Potato-Leek Soup. Dressed with frizzled onion and a sprinkling of chive oil, t was heartwarming and rich and full of flavor as ever, an ideal first course. It was also well paired with Chateau L’Hoste Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc 2008, a soft, light, slightly buttery wine, dry without being extremely astringent or puckery.

For our second course, we were served something brand-new to me, but which Marc (who prepared this particular dish) and Ruth explained is a classic type of French lunch: Cured Salmon in a Jar. We were each served a large, shallow jar and a plate of toasty baguette slices. Inside the jar, under a bay leaf, we found tender morsels of salmon that had been cured in oil for five hours, flavored by slices of potato, onions, olives, carrots, lemons, peppercorns, rosemary and thyme. As Ruth explained, these could be placed on the toasts and eaten, or enjoyed straight from the jar. I found it really tasty. I wouldn’t mind having a jar of this combination in my fridge all the time! The wine for this course was Domaine du Pere Caboche Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc, a blend of white grapes from the  Southern Rhone region that was a bit drier and just as pleasant as the Sauvignon Blanc.

Our third course was as rich and rewarding as could possibly be: Coq au Vin with Fingerling Potatoes. Ruth explained that this dish was prepared by browning the skin of the chicken first in olive oil, then marinating it overnight in a petit Syrah before being finished with mushrooms, roasted garlic, pearl onions and the potatoes. It must have been this treatment that made it fall-off-the bone tender and yet at the same time gave the skin such a crispy, smoky flavor and made the sauce so hearty; the vegetables with it were equally sumptuous. It was served with Michel Chapoutier Crozes Petit Rouge 2008, a Syrah from the Rhone that was a perfect match.

After all that richness, a salad course was just what we needed, and this one, a French Green Salad with Brie and Pear Beggar’s Purse in a Balsamic Reduction, was a fine choice. The salad was accented with spears of white asparagus, and the little phyllo-dough purses of cheese and pears tasted marvelous with it; they provided a warm, flaky contrast to the cool lettuce and tart dressing. So did the wine, Simmonet Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc Burgundy 2009. This is a fresh and fruity stainless steel-fermented wine from the only place in Burgundy allowed to produce Sauvignon Blanc.

To conclude this tres elegant meal, we were served an Apple-Apricot-Marzipan Tart with Soft Whipped Creme. My German side has a passion for marzipan (especially around Christmastime), and this marzipan tasted wonderful with the paper-thin slivers of fruit, crispy golden crust and gentle glaze. The dessert wine, an oak-aged Chateau Rieussec Sauterne, was also quite special. A sweet ending to an evening that brought me back in time to my first experience with French cuisine, and made me feel all the more determined to visit someday and experience the country’s cooking firsthand.

This dinner brought November to an end and provided a promising preview of some of the special things the Bistro has in store for December. With two wine tastings, a French Canadian beer dinner, a Champagne Dinner and special plans afoot for those who make reservations for New Year’s Eve, there’s something to please everyone. Make your plans (and your reservations) now!

Whet your appetite with pics while we get Vegan Thanksgiving ready for you!

Feeling a little hungry about now? If you made reservations for our Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner tonight, we’ve got some coming attraction shots to get you in the mood!

Our Celery Root Soup has been simmering on the stove:

The pears for the salad have been roasted…

…and the pumpkin seeds are waiting to be toasted while the cranberry vinaigrette stands by…

The Beggar’s Purses with Sweet Onion, Lentil, Quinoa, Wild Mushrooms and Sundried Cranberries are filled, tied up and ready to be baked.

Here are some of the wild mushrooms that went into stuffing them:

The Roasted Curried Butternut Squash Sauce is all ready to top them once they’re done…

The Brussels sprouts that will accompany them are here fresh, green and waiting for roasting…

…and the French chestnuts that will dress them are not far away…

Last but far from least, the pecan pie is also prepared…

So, there you have it: a glimpse of what awaits you tonight at our vegan Thanksgiving table. Hope these images will get you through the rest of your day and warm your spirits on a cold, rainy November afternoon. See you tonight for spiced wine cocktails and great feasting!

Here’s the menu for our French Wine Dinner!

We’ve got our French Wine Dinner menu for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 30, all planned. These five courses (some of which may remind you of our Julia Project), paired with six French wines, are sure to be très magnifique!

Cremant de Loire

First Course
Potage Parmentier (Potato Leek Soup)
Wine: Chateau L’Hoste-Blanc Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc

Second Course
Cured Salmon in a Jar
Wine: Domaine du Pere Caboche Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc ’93

Third Course
Coq au Vin
Fingerling Potatoes
Wine: M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage La Petite Ruche Rouge

Fourth Course
French Green Salad
Brie and Pear Beggar’s Purse
Balsamic Reduction
Wine: Simonnet-Febvre Sauvignon Blanc de St. Bris Burgundy

Dessert Course
Apple-Apricot-Marzipan Tart
Soft Whipped Crème
Wine: Sauterne Chateau Rieussec

Cost of this dinner is $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. For a taste of France at the end of your November, call 216.481.9635 and save your place at our table!

We’ve got a perfect storm of upcoming fall events for you!

Blustery cold weather can be tough to endure as the seasons change, but the storm of upcoming events at the Bistro will have just the opposite effect. Our special tastings and dinners will warm your heart and soul with good food, good drink and good company!

First, if you’re a wine lover, you’ll want to join us for our Last Minute Wine Tasting Monday October, 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. with wine maker Niccola. Enjoy a tasting of four wines for only $13:

Nero d’Avola
Pinot Grigio

We’ll also have hors d’oeuvres for purchase to enjoy with your wine. Bar seating is limited for this event, so call 216.481.9635 for reservations now.

This Thursday, we’ve still got some spots left for our “True Blood” Dinner October 27 at 6:30 p.m., so if you haven’t signed up for this one yet, you’ve still got a chance! Call now to ensure your spot. It would be a bloody shame to miss this Halloween feast Bon Temps style!

If you’ve been looking for a review of our 21st Amendment Beer Dinner, we’ll have one soon. In the meantime, on Wednesday, November 16, at 6:30 p.m., we’ll have another special event for beer lovers: a UniBroue Beer Dinner featuring products of that Quebec brewery served up with five courses of French Canadian cuisine.  This dinner will cost $50 per person plus tax and gratuity, and we’re taking reservations now.

Vegans, remember last year’s delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner? We’re bringing it back this year, with new dishes and a spiced wine cocktail for our beverage. On Tuesday, November 22, our $45 turkey-free feast will serve up four courses of vegan fall fare two days before the big day. We’ll have one seating only–6:30 p.m.–so call now to ensure your spot.

Finally, we’ll wrap up our busy month at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 30 with a five-course, $65 French Wine Dinner.

Watch this space for full menu listings for our Unibroue Beer Dinner, Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner and French Wine Dinner. For now, take up the calendar and the phone, and secure your spot at the table for the rest of our fabulous fall!

Vegan Night features a savory trip to Paris!

The Tenant here, having eaten vegan again tonight! I’m here to tell you the 3-for-$30 Vegan Dinner served up this time around was another fine stop on the Bistro’s world vegan tour.

The festivities began with the Ratatouille Niçoise Salad. This was a rich and spicy combination of fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, yellow squash, and eggplant, accented with fresh and roasted fennel seeds, orange zest and white wine that really brought the flavor alive. It was served on a bed of greens, garnished with niçoise olives and capers, and drizzled with a balsamic glaze that added a little sweetness to balance out the spice. The flavors were both hearty and just right for springtime. A couple of tender mini-croissants were tucked alongside and came in handy for soaking up excess sauce.

The main course, Gardein “Chicken” Française Finished with a Meyer Lemon Sauce and Imported Lemon Oil, was one in which the sauce truly made the difference. The gentle sauce had just enough lemony bite to accent the “chicken” cut beautifully, and the Potatoes Lyonnaise were rich with saucy flavor. The Haricots Verts Amandine were perfectly green, fresh beans with a spring-y snap and fresh flavor that tasted buttery even without butter. This course was plated up beautifully as well–a feast for the eyes.

I knew I was going to love dessert, because once you say “marzipan,” I am there. The Apple and Marzipan Tart was sheer heaven, dusted lightly with cinnamon and drizzled with both the crème anglaise originally announced and a dark sauce that I forgot to ask the identity of! Whatever it was, it was a perfect complement for the fragile and wonderfully tasty pastry concoction, packed with slender slivers of apple and a layer of yummy marzipan. To my mind, this one should be in the dessert case all the time, vegan or not! It would be a shame for people who don’t normally try the vegan dinners to not get a taste of it. True, it could be made non-vegan as well, but the fact that it was made so deliciously without any animal products is a testament to the versatility shown in the kitchen by Chefs Ruth, Jakub and Todd whenever they’re at work.

Once again, I found myself enjoying a full vegan dinner without feeling I was missing out on any flavor at all. I highly recommend the experience to others…and if you’re vegan, you’ve got to love it! Keep in kind that next month is a multicourse Vegan Sake Dinner. If you love Asian food, you will want to make plans now to attend.

“A Night in Paris” Vegan Dinner menu ready!

If we haven’t yet convinced you that our April 3-for-$30 Vegan Dinner on Wednesday, April 20, is going to be magnifique, let this menu persuade you…

First Course
Ratatouille Niçoise Salad Served on a Bed of Greens, Garnished with Niçoise Olives and Capers with Balsamic Glaze
Mini Croissant

Gardein “Chicken” Francaise Finished with a Meyer Lemon Sauce
and Imported Lemon Oil
Potatoes Lyonnaise
Haricots Verts Amandine

Apple and Marzipan Tart with Crème Anglaise

Sounds délicieux, n’est-ce pas? Be sure not to miss this tour of French cuisine, vegan style!

Get out your calendars! We’ve got months of fun planned for you!

We hesitate to say anything too soon, but it seems that maybe the weather is actually starting to act like spring (even if that means rain instead of snow). Can warm, sunny weather be far behind? We hope not. But whatever the weather, we’ve got some amazing events planned at Bistro 185 that will keep you enjoying fantastic food and inspirational spirits all spring and summer long.

We’re kicking off the fun this month with three events sure to make your April fly by. First of all, our next Vegan Dinner is already set for Wednesday, April 20. In keeping with our around-the-world theme, this 3-for-$30 dinner will whisk you off to “A Night in Paris.” This will be French cuisine the way Julia Child never imagined it! The very next evening will be a treat for martini lovers. Our Thursday, April 21 Martini Tasting with Hors D’Oeuvres, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at $40 per person, will introduce you to some incredible bar-side concoctions. And wrapping up the month, our Wednesday, April 27 Wine Dinner, “OPA!,” will spirit you off to the Greek Isles with six courses of Greece-inspired cuisine and wine pairings for $65 per person. Much less expensive than a Greek cruise, and the food will be just as tasty!

You might call our month of May “Asian Month,” even “Sake Month.” We’re planning two different multi-course Sake Dinners: a Vegan Sake Dinner Wednesday, May 18, offering five courses of Asian-inspired vegan cuisine paired with five vegan sakes for $60 per person, and a non-vegan Sake Dinner Wednesday, May 25, pairing six courses of Asian-inspired cuisine with six sakes for $75 per person. This food and drink will be just right for fresh springtime eating.

On Thursday, June 16, we’ll be going back to our 3-for-$30 Vegan Night dinner offering with a menu we’re calling “Hello Summer.” That’s all we’re going to divulge about it right now; keep watching for details! Wednesday, June 22, will see us presenting our “Hello Summer” White Wine Dinner: five delicious courses paired with five summery white wines for $60 per person.

In July, we’ll be celebrating Bar-B-Que Month, so if you didn’t get your fill at your 4th of July cookout, no need to worry–we’ll satisfy your cravings for delicious Q…vegans too! Thursday, July 14, we’ll serve up a Vegan Bar-B-Que 3-for-$30 special, while for the non-vegans Wednesday, July 20, we’ll feature a Bar-B-Que with a Latin American flair: five courses and five wine pairings for $60. Ole!

Locavores rejoice! Our cuisine theme for August celebrates our brief but precious market growing season by featuring the bounty of local farmers’ markets. We kick off Wednesday, August 17, with a Vegan 3-for-$30 “From Farm to Table” dinner, followed on Wednesday, August 24, by a Farmer’s Market Wine Dinner featuring five courses of all-local, all-organic cuisine paired with five organic Lorello Winery wines for $65 per person. Of course, this one, like much of our spring and summer cuisine, will include THE most local food we can serve: produce from our rooftop garden! It just doesn’t get fresher than that!

Finally, we’ll wrap up a summer season of fantastic food and drink with a bit of fun. Did you know that Monday, September 19, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Arrrh! If ye didn’t know before, mateys, ye know now! So shiver me timbers, we’ll be celebratin’ with a spirits tastin’ of–what else–rum! Our Rum Tasting will cost 40 gold doubloons (or dollars, if you lack doubloons) and feature hors d’ouevres to satisfy ye hearties’ appetites.

Be sure to mark your calendars and set your reminder alarms, because you won’t want to miss any of the Bistro 185 fun this spring and summer! You can start now by calling 216.481.9635 to reserve for the Vegan Dinner, Martini Tasting, and “OPA!” Wine Dinner. Also, keep watching this space for more details as we draw closer to the events!

STILL WANT TO LEARN HOW TO COOK LIKE CHEF TODD?: You’ve got more chances coming up! First, Todd will present an “April in Paris” cooking lesson this Sunday, April 10, teaching you how to prepare an entire menu of springtime French bistro-style classics. Then, on May 15, his “Small Sweets” class will give you hands-on experience in creating classic French sweet treats. Both classes will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at Sur la Table Woodmere, 28819 Chagrin Boulevard at Eton; tuition is $65 for “April in Paris” and $69 for “Small Sweets.” Call to reserve your place now at 800.243.0852. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to study French cuisine with a Paris-trained chef!