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!

Vegans, rejoice! Now you can cook Bistro 185-style at home!

If you’ve been watching this space, you already know that tomorrow night is Vegan Night at the Bistro. But here’s a new twist!

We’ve been thrilled at your enthusiastic response to the Vegan Dinner Series, and we’ve also been listening to those of you who have been saying “Wow, I wish I could enjoy one of Chef Jakub’s vegan dinners at home…any night of the month.” Now, we’ve come up with a way to make it happen!

Tomorrow night, we won’t only be serving our monthly Vegan Night appetizer, dinner, and dessert offerings here at the Bistro. We won’t even just be packing up fully cooked dinners “to go” for those who call in for a takeout order. We’re going one step beyond…to offer you a special frozen vegan entree that you can pick up, take home, and cook up fresh anytime you like!

The premier offering in our Bistro 185 Vegan Take-Home Entrees series will be Tikka Masala. (This is a different entree from the one we’re serving here in the Bistro tomorrow night.) It’s sautéed seitan in a rich Indian sauce prepared with garden-fresh vegetables and cashews, complete with organic brown basmati rice. It’s elegantly boxed, frozen, and can be kept in your freezer at home until you’re ready to defrost, heat, and eat! Easy preparation instructions will be included in each box. Each entree is 28 full ounces, big enough to feed two.

We’re offering our frozen vegan Tikka Masala entrees at a special introductory price of $15.50 per entree. Limited quantities will be available, so don’t miss out! Be sure to get yours early tomorrow evening! Tomorrow night is going to be a Bistro 165 Vegan Night like no other!

Join us tonight for the kickoff of our Vegan Dinner Series!

You asked for it — you got it! Bistro 185 kicks off its monthly Vegan Dinner Series tonight with Chef Jakub Mejstrik’s presentation of Massaman Curry with Vegetables, Tofu, and Organic Brown Jasmine Rice. This is sure to be a taste treat for all our vegan fans. Our Massaman Curry is also available with a choice of chicken, shrimp or Bay of Fundy salmon instead of tofu, if you prefer. Don’t let that snow scare you — come on in and “Thai” one on tonight!

Our Veuve Clicquot Champagne Wine Dinner video

We hope you enjoy this video presentation of the courses featured in our Champagne Wine Dinner December 28:

We’ll let you know when and what we’re planning for our next wine dinner in the near future!

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

Behind the Dish: Lamb Moussaka

Tonight’s Julia Project dish, Lamb Moussaka, is familiar to most modern diners. If you know anything about Greek cuisine, you’ve probably heard of moussaka, and you may well have enjoyed it as part of your family’s cooking or at a Greek or other restaurant. The dish, which usually is made in the form of a kind of “lasagna” that layers slices of eggplant with ground lamb in a tomato sauce, originated in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, which makes it rather interesting that a recipe for it was included in Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1.

Julia’s instructions for how to structure and serve the completed dish are quite a bit different from how it’s normally done today; they’re much more classically French. Her original recipe uses a charlotte mold, which she instructs the cook to line with the skins of the cooked eggplant portion of the dish and then fill with a combination of the eggplant, mushrooms, lamb and sauce, resulting in a “shiny, dark purple cylinder surrounded with a deep red tomato sauce.” Wow! Her completed entree, brought to the table whole at a dinner party, must have looked rather like a purple Bundt cake. For our purposes, however, we used the more conventional rectangular pan and “layered” method of preparation commonly seen today. We’re also providing it with our own version of a “French twist.” And we’re proud to add that the vegetables are all organic, from Jim Darr’s Old Plank Farm in Windsor, Ohio — pesticide and herbicide free.

We’ve been prepping our moussaka since yesterday, because it is quite a bit labor-intensive. One of the steps requires slicing up the eggplant, sprinkling the slices with salt and letting them sit out for a half hour to “sweat out” the excess water (eggplant holds a lot of water) before cooking it. This process makes the eggplant more permeable to the olive oil in which it bakes before it’s layered, but it also requires a lot of room to lay out all the slices when you’re making as much moussaka as we are! With the limited space available to us in the Bistro kitchens, we had to do it in stages.

The recipe also calls for minced mushrooms, shallots or onions, the ground lamb (already cooked before being placed in the dish — which is probably why Julia describes it as a way to use “leftovers”), salt and pepper, thyme, garlic and rosemary, tomato paste, eggs, and a brown sauce. Rather than the brown sauce, however, we’re topping our moussaka layers with a classic béchamel, or white sauce, made with milk, flour and butter. Also, our bottom layer is sliced fried Yukon Gold potatoes — another item not in Julia’s original recipe. And, we added oregano and cinnamon, two other spices Julia’s version omits, but that are very much components of a classic moussaka.

The ingredients are layered and baked up to make a hearty, heartwarming dish, which we will top with an arrabiata pepper sauce. It will be accompanied by a classic Greek side salad featuring cucumbers, kalamata olives, our rooftop tomatoes and basil, red onion, orange and red peppers, and feta cheese, dressed in a Greek vinaigrette.

Sounds like a great fall dish? We thought so!