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!

Tonight’s Specials: Oct. 5

Starters
Soup of the Day
Gravlax (house cured salmon) with potato pancakes, capers, chopped red onion and sour cream
House Smoked Duck Breast with mango chipotle glaze, sun-dried cranberries, potato pancake and sour cream
Chicken and Vegetable Pot Stickers with sesame-soy dipping sauce
Asian Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
Romaine Wedge Salad with Gorgonzola dressing, chopped hard-boiled eggs, red onion, bacon and tomato
Warm Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese Salad on a bed of field greens with balsamic vinaigrette
Roasted Organic Beets with goat cheese, honey and balsamic drizzle
Calymarna Brown Figs stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with prosciutto, field greens and balsamic vinaigrette
Warm Wild Mushroom Salad with pistachios, field greens and raspberry vinaigrette
Coquilles St. Jacques: Baby bay scallops and shrimp in creamy Alfredo sauce with a Parmesan cheese crust
Escargot with Garlic Butter
Puff Pastry Wrapped French Camembert served warm with grapes and toasts
Medjool Dates stuffed with almonds and wrapped with bacon with balsamic drizzle and crumbled goat cheese

Entrees

Lamb Shanks with Baby Fall Vegetables (a Julia Project favorite)
Lamb Moussaka with Greek Salad (a Julia Project favorite)
Sautéed Pork Tenderloin in Prune and Port Wine Sauce with Mashers (a Julia Project favorite)
Steak Oscar: Medallions of beef filet topped with crab and shrimp, hollandaise sauce, tempura green beans and mashers
Boeuf Bourguignon: Boneless Black Angus short ribs slow-braised in a rich burgundy wine sauce with carrots and onions on a bed of mashers
16-oz. Bone-in Cowboy Ribeye Steak with onion straws, sautéed redskin potatoes and house tempura vegetable
Calves’ Liver, pan sautéed, with onion gravy, mashers and bacon
Roasted Half Duck with orange sauce, organic wild rice and house tempura vegetable
Limoncello Chicken: Pan-seared chicken breasts finished in a limoncello cream sauce, Meyer lemons, asparagus, artichoke hearts and snap peas with penne pasta
Chicken Parmesan with pasta marinara
Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops with black truffle, chanterelle mushrooms and roasted butternut squash risotto
Sesame-Crusted Pan-Seared Wild-Caught Ahi Tuna with wasabi aioli and ginger mandarin drizzle, Israeli couscous and house tempura vegetable
Pecan-Crusted Bay of Fundy Salmon with sweet potato mashers and sautéed spinach
Pan-Roasted Wild-Caught Alaskan Halibut with tropical fruit and nut rum sauce and butternut squash ravioli
Wild-Caught Canadian Walleye finished with a lemon herb butter sauce, mashers and house vegetables, OR tempura style with sweet potato fries, slaw and tartar sauce
Lobster Ravioli with Seared Day Boat Scallops and Shrimp finished with a creamy lobster sauce
Ricotta and Spinach in Fresh Manicotti Pasta with marinara and a touch of cream

Tender lamb, rich sauce

The Tenant says…

One night as I was sitting at the Bistro bar, I saw a diner next to me being served a dish of lamb shank. I thought, “Wow, it looks like something Fred Flintstone would have for dinner.” Well, to me it did, anyway. To a person raised pretty much on beef, chicken, ham and holiday turkeys, a lamb shank — when compared to the more conventional chicken legs I grew up with — looks practically like a dinosaur bone. I didn’t get real exposure to lamb until adulthood, and even then, it was in the form of gyro meat or chops.

So, here I was tonight, presented with my own lamb shank. With the fork-tender, juicy meat falling right off that gigundous bone…and so rich and tasty. Braising really does do wonders to infuse meat with extra flavor, and the flavor of this lamb combines very well with that wonderful rooftop rosemary. The rich, brown sauce also gets soaked up very nicely by the baby vegetables and haricots verts, all of which are also tender without being mushy. There were only two differences from the original recipe that I could see: no tomatoes and no peas. But I didn’t miss them. In short, I think if Fred Flintstone were served this kind of a meal, his reaction would be “Yabba-dabba-doo!” Yeah, you knew where that was going, didn’t you? Anyway, thank you, Julia!

There is another reprise Julia dish on the menu tonight as well: last night’s Côtes de Porc Robert is back for a second round. So, if you love meat rich with flavor, take your pick tonight: pork or lamb. Either way, you win.

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!

A preview of Week 3

We hope you were able to join us last night for Veal Marengo — tender veal in a flavorful tomato-and-mushroom sauce. Whether you were or weren’t, however, we’re preparing another treat for tonight: Loup en Croûte — Fish in Pastry, with hollandaise sauce and haricots verts (good old-fashioned green beans).

Julia Project Menu Week 3 is Ready!

It just keeps getting better! Here’s what we have planned for next week:

Monday, August 17 — Salmon Filet en Papillote with Shallots and Tomato, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Page 220

Tuesday, August 18 — Chicken Pot Pie, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Page 278

Wednesday, August 19 — Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Page 358

Thursday, August 20 — Home Made Veal Sausage with Scalloped Potatoes, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Page 364

Friday, August 21 — Chocolate Burnt Almond Ice Cream, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2, Page 421

Saturday, August 22 — Steak Diane, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Page 314

In the French tradition — minus about three weeks — Bistro 185 will be closed for our annual summer vacation from August 24 through the 29th. We will reopen Monday, August 31, bringing more Julia Project dishes with us!

Eat your liver!

Did you ever hear that admonition when you were a child? Did you find yourself not too thrilled at the prospect, staring at a plateful of something that looked like a big slab of shoe leather — and had approximately the same consistency and flavor?

Or, are you a fan of that good old comfort food standard — liver and onions — who’s never tried liver the way the French do it? Or have you already discovered the pleasures of foie de veau — but wondered if you can experience something that good here in Cleveland? Thanks to our Julia Project, you can, tonight.

Our Sautéed Calves’ Liver with Cream Mustard Sauce is a far cry from shoe-leather country. These are soft, tender slices of liver bathed in a savory sauce of cream and top-quality grainy French mustard, sitting atop a cozy bed of mashed potatoes. Our accompaniments for this dish are sautéed spinach, rich with garlic, and celery root (celeriac) remoulade, the recipe for which is also from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1. Normally, remoulade is a term used for a kind of tartar sauce or condiment, but this French dish is actually thin strips of celery root combined with a mustard-based dressing. You might think of it as “coleslaw in a tuxedo.” Just as the cold creaminess of coleslaw complements battered fried fish, the crisp, cool, astringent texture and taste of this remoulade provides a refreshing contrast to the rich, warm flavor of the calves’ liver and sauce. Indeed, it’s a dish you’ll be more than happy to eat, no admonitions necessary!

In other news: The Julia Project list of dishes for the week of August 10 to 15 is ready! Here’s what’s in store for each day.

Monday: Potage Veloute aux Champignons — Cream of Mushroom Soup, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 40)

Tuesday: Coquilles St. Jacques — Scallops and Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 216), accompanied by asparagus tips

Wednesday: Sauté de Veau Marengo — Brown Veal Stew with Tomatoes and Mushrooms, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 360), accompanied by mashed potatoes

Thursday: Loup en Croûte — Fish in Pastry, from Julia Child and Company, with hollandaise sauce and haricots verts

Friday: Savarin with Ohio-Grown Tart Cherries and Seasonal Stone Fruit with Crème Anglaise, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 (page 664). Taste a classic French dessert made with local fruit at the peak of flavor!

Saturday: Bouillabaisse de Poulet — Chicken Poached in White Wine, Provençal Vegetables and Herbs, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2 (page 261), with Ohio-grown baby redskin potatoes and pistou. (It will be Julia’s birthday August 15 — she would have been 97 — and we’ll be celebrating in style!)

Sound good? Make your reservation now! Also, don’t forget, if we served a dish this past week that you’d love to see again, let us know in the poll. We’ll keep it open until midnight Sunday to give you a good chance to vote.

A special shout-out to everyone who enjoyed sampling our food last night at the American Cancer Society 2nd Annual “Dining at the Diamond” event at Classic Park in Eastlake. Thanks for joining us in supporting a great cause, and hope to see you at the Bistro soon!