July barbecues coming your way…and more!

It’s as if there’s something deep inside us — especially those of us forced to spend so much time indoors during the winter — that calls to us when summertime hits and compels us to start a fire and throw something on the grill until it gets really crispy, juicy and tasty. At Bistro 185, we’re no different. That’s why July is going to be Barbecue Month in terms of our special dinners — even the vegan one!

We actually start out with the Vegan Barbecue, on Thursday, July 14. This will be another 3-for-$30 special, featuring Grilled Caesar Salad as the appetizer. The main course will be Smoked and Grilled Tofu Glazed with a Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Barbecue Sauce, Grilled Corn and Pinto Bean Succotash with Roasted Sweet Potato and Jalapeno Cornbread. We’ll top it off with Strawberry Shortcake for dessert.

The following week, it will be time for the meat eaters to gather ’round. On Wednesday, July 20 at 6:30, the Bistro will celebrate south-of-the-border spice with a five-course Latin American Barbecue Dinner. This $60 feast will feature the following courses paired with the following wines and other beverages:

Opening Beverage
Marc’s Special Sangria

First Course
Shrimp Ceviche
Beverage: Caipirinha

Second Course
Smoked Chicken Empanada
Brazilian Black Beans
Beverage:
Lo Tengo Torrontes

Third  Course
South American Style Jicama-Orange-Avocado Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette
Beverage: Vinho Verde

Fourth Course
Argentinian Grilled Flatiron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Plantain Chutney
Peruvian Corn Pudding
Beverage: Guentota Malbec

Fifth Course
Quesillo de Coco: Venezuelan Coconut Flan
Beverage: Pisco-Rita

You will want to be in your seat for this exciting fiesta, so call and make your prepaid reservations now at 216.481.9635.

Is this all we’ve got planned for special fun this summer? Not quite. In August we celebrate locally grown food with our special dinners…but aside from even that, we’ve got some tricks up our sleeve that we’ll be revealing soon. Watch this space for more details to be announced!

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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 visit to India was tasty indeed!

The Tenant returns with a summary of last Wednesday’s Vegan Night 3-for-$30 offering India-style! Again, I have to say I’m impressed and amazed by what can be done with foods entirely vegan-sourced. From beginning to end, delicious!

The appetizer for this dinner was Chickpea-Onion Samosas with Cilantro and Mint Chutney and Field Green Salad with Tamarind Vinaigrette. It consisted of two samosas, delicate puff-pastry pockets fried until perfectly crispy, with a filling of mashed chickpeas and onions. The cilantro-and-mint chutney alongside looked almost like wasabi, and had almost the same level of heat due to the spices in it, so just a little at a time was all that was needed to accent the flavor of each bite. The salad was very lightly and tastefully dressed as well. A good start to the evening!

Next came the main dish, Cashew-Coconut Lemongrass Curry with Vegetables and Tofu and Organic Brown Basmati Rice. This was an amazingly flavored curry dish. I love cashews and I love coconut, so it was perfect for me. The sauce was aromatic and full of flavor from the lemongrass and curry, studded with vegetables like eggplant and cauliflower, and full of plenty of cashew nuts. It was garnished with a touch of cilantro. Altogether the flavors melded delightfully.

The meal concluded with an appropriate and charming dessert, Coconut-Cardamom Panna Cotta with Mango Coulis and Fresh Berries. The coconut and mango sauce made it just sweet enough, with the cardamom seeds (you can see them at the top) adding a little spicy kick. The berries, too, were a refreshing touch in the dead of winter. What I find interesting about vegan panna cottas is that like other dishes that would ordinarily use gelatin as a thickener or “jelling” agent, they instead use carrageenan, which is seaweed sourced. Carrageenan is already used in many commercial products, from toothpastes to dessert items. It’s just one example of how a dish can be made vegan without losing anything of the flavor or texture one would expect from the dish.

The entire meal was yet another example of how, under the touch of experienced chefs, vegan cuisine in the style of any country can be both authentic and a very enjoyable dining experience. And obviously I’m not the only one eating it up; they tell me this dinner sold out. Another example of “if you cook it, they will come!”

Be looking here for information on what the Bistro has planned for the next Vegan Night!

“A Night in Budapest” is vegan magic

Greetings, Bistro fans and vegan cuisine fans. The Tenant is finally back, with some time out for a cold. I regret to say that as a result of this cold, I decided not to attend the $10 wine tasting this week (I never want to risk making any of the other fine Bistro patrons, or the terrific staff for that matter, ill if I can help it). If you attended, however, and have a comment you’d like to make, please feel free!

As for “A Night in Budapest,” the latest Bistro venture into gourmet vegan cuisine last week, that was a fine evening indeed (as you know if you tried it yourself). The 3-for-$30 meal began with a first course of Tomato-Fennel Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings:

This dish was delightfully spicy with its blend of tomatoes, fennel, onion, paprika, and other flavorings. The cornmeal dumplings were deliciously tender, and the whole thing was topped with fresh sprigs of dill. A wonderfully warming winter soup.

Then it was on to the main dish, Vegan Chicken Paprikash with Potato Gnocchi:

This “chicken” was, as is true of many Bistro vegan dishes, made with gardein, which I’m told is made primarily from wheat gluten. Obviously not a choice for those with celiac or other issues requiring a gluten-free diet, but it does make an incredible chicken stand-in that is extremely difficult to tell from the real thing in terms of flavor. It worked perfectly in this dish, paired with classic traditional-tasting potato gnocchi and a sauce that, from my understanding, included cashew milk. It was rich, creamy in texture, and tasted just like something you might enjoy in a traditional home-cooking Eastern European ethnic restaurant.

The grand conclusion of the meal was Hungarian-Style Crepes with Apricot Preserves:

The crepes, made with almond milk and without eggs, were ultra-thin and delicious, layered with sweet fruit preserves, and accompanied by a snowing of powdered sugar, fresh berries, and “whipped cream” made with almond milk combined with a little tapioca to firm it up. A fantastic dessert and the perfect complement to the rest of the meal.

Altogether, “An Evening in Budapest” proved that even hearty, traditional ethnic cooking is possible using all vegan ingredients, and you won’t miss a bit of flavor!

Want more proof? Another opportunity is coming soon. On Wednesday, February 23, Bistro 185 presents “A Trip to India,” a three-course vegan dinner themed on Indian cuisine beginning to end:

First Course
Chickpea-Onion Samosas
Cilantro and Mint Chutney
Field Green Salad with Tamarind Vinaigrette

Entree
Cashew-Coconut Lemongrass Curry with Vegetables and Tofu
Organic Brown Basmati Rice

Dessert
Coconut-Cardamom Panna Cotta with Mango Coulis
Fresh Berries

Sounds special, doesn’t it? The dinner will be available between 5 and 9 p.m.; to ensure yourself a reserved time, call 216.481.9635 now and prepay with your credit card. Cost is $30 per person, plus 20 percent gratuity and 7.75 percent tax additional.

At Bistro 185, vegan dining is more than just a meal; it’s a tasteful journey into everything this type of cuisine can be. Book yourself this passage to India now!

A flurry of activity going on now!

So much is happening here at the Bistro that it’s hard to even keep up with it all. To bring you up to date:

WINE TASTING TONIGHT: We’re having a special $10 wine tasting tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. with light hors d’oeuvres, featuring Vino Con Brio Wines: “Matzin” Old Vines Zinfandel, Vino Con Brio Pinot Grigio, Vino Con Brio Petit Sirah, Vino Con Brio “Late Harvest Matzin” and Old Vines Zinfandel. Availability is limited, so if you’re interested, call to reserve a spot.CHEF TODD SHOWS OFF HIS MUSSELS: This week’s new Chef Todd Special will be added tomorrow night. In the meantime Todd is continuing to offer specials from last week. One we hadn’t yet mentioned here (yes, he ultimately came up with three!): Mussels Provençal, steamed in garlic, white wine, roasted red pepper and tomato, flavored with roasted garlic cloves, parsley and scallions, served with thin spaghetti. Try this one for a hearty seafood-and-spaghetti dish!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT IS VEGAN NIGHT: This Wednesday, Bistro 185’s new featured Vegan Dinner Series entree of the evening will be Sundried Tomato Pesto with Tofu, Sauteed Vegetables and Vegan Parmesan over Pasta. Don’t miss this one!

IT’S SWEET TO TWEET: Also, if you take a look at the right column of this page, you’ll see our big news: Bistro 185 has joined Twitter! (We’ll be adding a similar widget to our Web site and Facebook pages shortly.) If you’re on Twitter, please add us to your Follow list; if you’re not there as yet, you can still follow us by searching for “Bistro185” on the Twitter Web site or just following our activity here and on our Web site and Facebook.

Twitter is the place to read our “short bites” on the latest on what’s happening at the Bistro, and also where you can take advantage of special time-sensitive offers available only to those paying attention to our tweets. So keep your eyes on us — it might just pay off! Also, we’d love to hear tweets back from you — did you enjoy your latest meal with us? What would you like to see on the menu in the future? What’s gone that you miss? Let us know!

Chef Todd throws us a change-up this week

You have to give credit to Chef Todd, because he’s really been busy this week coming up with fresh ideas for the specials menu. Yes, he has added Rum-Painted Grouper to our offerings (and for more details on that, check this blog later tonight), but he has created not one, but two, specials for this week. His other new special is Yogurt-Marinated Leg of Lamb, and it’s like the best gyro you’ve ever eaten, only without the pita bread. Slices of tender, perfectly cooked lamb cut right off the leg (not processed meat, like your typical gyro!), accompanied by circles of yellow and green squash sautéed in oil and garlic and a cool, refreshing raita sauce — a traditional Middle Eastern yogurt-based sauce. It is also served with a delicious timbale of rice seasoned with Middle Eastern spices, raisins and almonds. If you enjoy Greek and Middle Eastern-style food, this one is a must!

But we don’t want to give short shrift to the grouper, so keep posted here for a description of that dish. And if you have yet to try Todd’s Meyer Lemon Chicken Française with Basil Cherry-Tomato Arugula Salad and Potato Tostones, you still have a chance!

A few other notes from our specials menu: we’ve added the Lollipop Lamb Chop Milanese with Vegetable Barley Risotto that was so popular at our most recent “Spring Into Whites” wine dinner. And if you love Asian food, tonight, skip the Chinese restaurant and come here instead for our Asian Trio. It’s grilled beef, shrimp, chicken, potstickers, and tempura vegetables, served with three different dipping sauces: coconut curry, Asian peanut and spicy plum ginger.

Vegans! Remember that wonderful Massaman Curry we kicked off our Vegan Dinner Series with? It’s now on our specials menu, full of tofu, coconut and Thai-style veggies, served with brown rice. And of course, there are plenty of other great staples on the specials menu — ones you’ve come to know and love and ones you haven’t tried yet. So what are you waiting for? Plenty of pleasures await you at the Bistro right now!

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!

Mark your calendar now for these special February events!

We know you’re already excited about next Tuesday’s Italian Regional Wine Dinner (and so are we!), but we’ve got even more in store for you next month. Who says February in Cleveland has to be cold and dull? Cold, maybe, but dull — forget it! Not when we’re celebrating Bistro 185’s fourth anniversary, kicking off a series of monthy Vegan Dinners we know you’re going to love, and offering a special February 15 dinner for all you romantics who like the idea of keeping Valentine’s Day going a little longer!

HELP US CELEBRATE!: On Saturday, February 6, we will have been open for four years. You’ve helped make us a success, so please come and join in our Bistro 185 Fourth Anniversary Celebration! We’ll be featuring a special anniversary menu and birthday cake, and everyone will receive a complimentary glass of champagne — as well as some other surprises. More details to come!

VEGAN DINNER SERIES: Recently Bistro 185 was fortunate to secure the services of Chef Jakub Mejstrik, whose work will be featured in what is sure to be a very welcome new monthly Vegan Dinner Series. The series kicks off Wednesday, February 10, with our first featured dish, Thai-Style Massaman Curry with vegetables, tofu, and organic brown basmati rice. For the non-vegans among you, our Massaman Curry will also be available with a choice of chicken or shrimp. Keep watching this space for announcements of future Vegan Dinner dates and entrees.

FOR LOVERS ONLY — FOOD AND WINE LOVERS, THAT IS: True, Valentine’s Day, February 14, falls on a Sunday this year, and the Bistro is closed (after all, even we need to take time out for romance). But Monday, February 15, we’ll be open with a special Romantic Wine Dinner for everyone who just couldn’t get enough romance squeezed into Sunday. For more details on the featured courses and wines, watch this space. Who says love should be celebrated only one day? Oh, and if you have no sweetheart to bring along, just bring your love of great food and drink; you won’t be sorry!

Keep Bistro 185 in mind this coming month, and the rest of your winter will be something to look forward to.