Menu for Sake Dinner is ready!

You already know what we have planned for the Vegan Sake Dinner — so what’s in store for the non-vegan version on Wednesday, May 25? We can tell you now:

First Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop
House-Cured Pork Belly
Sauteed Shiitake Mushroom Cap
Ginger Plum Sauce

Second Course
Roasted Asian Duck with Miso-Orange Sauce
Black Forbidden Rice

Third Course
Sesame Ahi Tuna
Pickled Ginger
Asian Greens

Fourth Course
Roast Pork and Crab Dumpling Soup

Fifth Course
Cold Soba Noodles with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
Tempura Shrimp
Tempura Green Beans

Sixth Course
Green Tea Ice Cream with Fresh Berries

This dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. sharp and the cost is $75 per person plus tax and gratuity. Keep your eyes here for future information on which sakes we’ll pair with which courses. In the meantime, make your prepaid reservation at 216.481.9635 and get ready for a true Asian gourmet experience!

Vegan Sake Dinner menu offers Asian delights

The menu for our Vegan Sake Dinner Wednesday, May 18, is ready!

First Course
Vegetable Consomme with Baby Bok Choy, Edamame, Shiitake Mushrooms and Vegetable Dumpling
Sake: Naba Shoten Minato Harbor

Second Course
Rice Paper Rolls with Thai Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce
Sake: Chokaisan Junmai Daiginjo

Third Course
Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette and Tempura Green Beans
Sake: Dewatsuru Kimoto Junmai

Fourth Course
Grilled Tofu with Sake Shiitake Sauce
Pea Shoots and Grilled Japanese Eggplant with Ponzu Forbidden Black Rice
Sake: Ichishima Silk

Fifth Course
Lychee Sorbet with Berries
Sake: Hideyoshi Namacho

This dinner is $60 per person by prepaid reservation and begins at 6:30 p.m. sharp. Call 216.481.9635 to ensure your place!

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!

Night at the Oscars: Doctor Zhivago and Chicken Kiev

Tonight’s salute to our favorite movies to celebrate Academy Awards season features the 1965 winner for Best Picture, Doctor Zhivago. Relive the romance of this classic film tonight by dining on our featured special: Chicken Kiev, stuffed with Brie cheese and basil with potato gnocchi toppped with a creamy vodka-tomato sauce and sautéed spinach. We’ll be featuring this special for the rest of the week (we had originally planned to salute three films per week, but we’re going to feature two per week instead to give everyone a few more days’ opportunity to experience each dish).

We’re also featuring some other wonderful specials to warm your heart this time of year. If you haven’t yet tried our Green Pasta — penne pasta with pesto, asparagus, haricots verts, pea pods and scallions — it’ll provide a welcome spot of color in your cold gray winter. You can add shrimp, filet of Bay of Fundy salmon or chicken breast to this dish as well.

Looking for something completely new? How about our Italian Meatloaf — a combination of veal, sausage, ground beef and pork topped with marinara sauce, served with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans? That’s real wintertime comfort food. Or maybe you’d rather take a mini-vacation in the tropics with Sautéed Wild Caught Caribbean Lane Red Snapper served with a red-pepper aioli, black bean, corn and mango salsa and some bacon corn fritters on the side.

If the bacon corn fritters alone sound wonderful to you, you can get a small plate of them for $5 at the bar during our Happy Hour — along with many other delightful mini-dishes, from sliders to crab cakes, and a nice $5 glass of wine to join them.

Don’t forget, this Saturday is our Fourth Anniversary Party, and we’re going to have even more special things planned, plus a complimentary glass of champagne and a slice of cake for everyone who helps us celebrate!

This time of year, it’s easy to allow cabin fever to get the best of you — but Bistro 185 is your cure. Come on in and say hello. You’ll find we’re just what the doctor ordered!

Behind the Dish: Braised Lamb Shanks with Baby Fall Vegetables

The Tenant is still taking care of you while the Levines are away…this time with a preview of a Julia Project dish that’s pretty basic.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Baby Fall Vegetables is a variation on a Julia recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 called Navarin Printannier, or Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables. The differences between Julia’s version and the Bistro’s version will be these: first, they’re doing it with lamb shanks rather than chunks of lamb stew meat; and second, given that it’s September, they’re using (duh) baby fall vegetables rather than spring veggies. According to Chef Todd, the costars of this dish, which will braise along with the lamb shanks in their tomato/garlic/onion/herb sauce based on beef stock, will be carrots, parsley root, parsnips, turnips, fingerling potatoes and Peruvian (blue) potatoes, as well as peas and green beans.

Sounds like a hearty fall dish to me. I’ll let you know how it tastes tonight, but why take my word for it…come on in and get firsthand experience!

It’s just ducky

Our roast duck came out just the way we wanted: with a nice, brown crispy skin that releases just a bit of the juiciness of the meat inside even as you slice in. We ended up adding shiitake mushrooms to the porcinis to create an even richer mushroom flavor in the demi-glace. This was not a sweet treatment of duck but a very savory, herby one, and the deep flavors of the herbs were in every bite. We think the buttery sautéed green beans and the wild rice were just right for it. What did you think? If you had the duck tonight, we’d love to know.

Wedding Bells Are Ringing!

As we mentioned in an earlier post, it’s a time of celebration in the Levine household — our son Ari is getting married tomorrow. We’ve been very busy preparing the feast for his wedding, which we’ll tell you a bit about later. After the wedding, we’re actually joining Ari and his bride on a family honeymoon! It will be only a few days long, but should be plenty of fun.

Which romantic hotspot are we visiting? Vegas? Disney World? Bermuda? Surprise: we’re headed for Rochester, New York! Yes, it’s a little unusual, but that’s where we’ll be. Watch this space for more information on our trip.

The good news for our wonderful patrons is that we are not closing the Bistro during our absence. Chef Todd will take over in preparing all the Julia Project dishes for the rest of the week. So stay with us, and stop on by to keep sampling great cuisine Julia Child-style, and keep watching this space for news from our travels.

Behind the Dish: Fireplace-Roasted 1⁄2 Duck with Sautéed Porcini Mushroom and Veal Demi-Glace with Wild Rice and Sautéed Haricots Verts

OK, we have a confession to make…our Fireplace-Roasted Duck isn’t really going to be roasted in a fireplace. We don’t have a fireplace at the Bistro. But our duck will be roasted in an oven, which should provide it with the same crispy skin and locked-in juices as roasting it in a fireplace.

The Julia Recipe for today comes from master chef Jean-Louis Palladin (you can watch a video of it being prepared at the link here), and it calls for the duck to be served with wild porcini mushrooms. We’re going to use the dried, reconstituted form of porcinis, and cook them in duck fat, rather than the foie gras fat called for in the original recipe. Our primary seasonings are garlic, thyme and black pepper. We’ll also enrich the flavor of the mushrooms with the addition of the veal demi-glace. Ultimately, the cooking juices of the roast duck and the liquid from the porcinis will combine to make a wonderful sauce for the duck. With wild rice and haricots verts on the side to complement, it’s the perfect kind of dish to help you get ready for fall — and given what a dull-looking day today has turned out to be, that should be a good thing!

Julia Project Dishes for Week 5

You’ve waited patiently…and here they are!

Tuesday, Sept. 8 — Fireplace-Roasted 1⁄2 Duck with Sautéed Porcini Mushroom and Veal Demi-Glace with Wild Rice and Sautéed Haricots Verts (Cooking with Master Chefs, p. 103)

Wednesday, Sept. 9 — Spaghetti Marco Polo (from the French Chef series)

Thursday, Sept. 10 — Sea Scallops and Wild Mushroom and Green Sauce on Risotto (Cooking with Master Chefs, p. 75)

Friday, Sept. 11 — Côtes de Pork Robert with Sautéed Potatoes (Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1, p. 388)

Saturday, Sept. 12 — Braised Lamb Shanks with Baby Fall Vegetables (Potatoes, Turnips, Carrots, Haricots Verts) (Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1, p. 345-346)

Sounds good? Mark your calendar and make your reservation!

Just a few additions make magic!

Our red snapper has enjoyed a few special additions since our description of it before final preparation of the dish this afternoon and evening…just a few. We thought haricots verts would make a good vegetable addition, and it turns out we were right…they blend in perfectly with the flavor of the fish and the buttery sauce, especially with a slice of lemon and a touch of dill. Then we topped off the cucumber that accompanies the dish — as well as the fish itself — with just a wee bit of fresh chinook salmon caviar.

Behind that addition lies a tale. An acquaintance of ours recently went fishing in Lake Ontario near Olcott, New York, not far from Niagara Falls, where the reintroduction of salmon stock to the lake has helped boost the economy of many a small lakeside town. This is the kind of place where, if you catch an 18-pound chinook, you throw it back because it’s too small. Our friend was lucky enough to catch two huge female salmon loaded with roe, and while he knew what to do with the salmon meat — Marc has taught him how to smoke his own salmon — he didn’t know what to do with all that roe, so he gave it to Marc. Marc processed it by hand — not easy, but we think you’ll believe the effort was worth it. This kind of caviar isn’t heavily salty; it has a milder flavor than many commercially processed caviars. It just seemed like an ideal complement for our red snapper.

As it so happens, you could say it’s Surf and Turf Night here at the Bistro, because we’re also serving up an encore of the Beef Tenderloin we featured last night. Thursdays are always Reprise Nights during the Julia Project, in which we bring back a popular dish from earlier in the week, but this one was so well-liked we brought it back a night early!