Take another “bite” of Bon Temps with “True Blood: Season 2”!

[Disclaimer: The video above contains adult situations. Not intended for viewing by children.]

It was a sellout last October, and it’s back again–the dinner that brought a bite of Sookie Stackhouse’s world into the Bistro to raise everyone’s Halloween spirits. And this year’s “True Blood Dinner” (aka “True Blood Season 2”), although it’s shape-shifted a bit, once again features a full menu of all-red toothsome delights. Chef Ruth has taken care to incorporate New Orleans-style dishes into this year’s offerings to ensure the proper Cajun/Creole atmosphere as depicted in the HBO series. And, like the show itself, the dinner includes plenty of “spirits”–in this case, libations from aperitif to dessert liqueur–in keeping with the red/”blood” theme:

Aperitif
Toffoli Pink Shadow Prosecco

First Course
Rare Ahi Tuna
Organic Greens
Blood Orange and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Wine: Shingleback Black Bubbles Sparkling Shiraz

Second Course
Oyster Po’Boy
Spicy Remoulade Sauce
Red Cabbage Slaw
Cocktail: Bacon Bloody Mary Shots

Third Course
True Blood Tenderloin–Rare
Wine: Sly Dog Cabernet

Fourth Course
Creole Shrimp and Grits
Wine: Howling Moon Old Vine Zinfandel

Fifth Course
Pecan Pie
Sweet Potato Ice Cream
Cranberry Drizzle
Liqueur: Blood Orange Chocolate Sabra

Cost of the dinner is $60 per person plus tax and gratuity. If you were here for last year’s, you’ll want to return (and feel free to wear your True Blood shirt, if you have one, to get into the spirit of things!); if you missed it, you’ll want to make sure you don’t this time. Call 216.481.9635 now and make your reservation for our “witching hour,” 6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 27–and get ready for a dinner sure to be “bloody marvelous”!

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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!

True Blood Dinner: our libation list is ready!

Has the thought of joining us for our “True Blood” Dinner gotten you a little thirsty for something…red? Well, our libation list for this special dinner is ready. If this menu makes your mouth water like we think it will, and you haven’t made your reservation yet, pick up the phone and call us at 216.481.9635. Then call 1.800.RED.CROSS to make your blood donation appointment!

First Course
Shrimp Fritters with Red Devil Aioli
Vampire Cocktail
Vodka Chambord Cranberry

Second Course
Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage
Red Beans and Rice
Wine
Dracula Zinfandel Paso Robles

Third Course
Roasted Red Beet and Pomegranate Salad
Balsamic Dressing
Wine
Sixth Sense Syrah

Fourth Course
Seared Ahi Tuna with Red Cherry Sauce
Wine
Vampire Chardonnay

Fifth Course
Roasted Beef Tenderloin Medallion with Red Wine Sauce
Root Vegetable Mash
Wine
Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon

Sixth Course
Red Velvet Cake with Raspberry Coulis
Wine
Sparkling Brachetto

Here are some places you can donate blood within the next week:

October 12
Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 a.m.-8 p.m.

Wickliffe Community Center
900 Worden Rd., Wickliffe
12:30-5:30 p.m.

October 13
Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
1:30-8 p.m.

October 14
Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
1:30-8 p.m.

October 15
Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Ohio Savings Bank
1801 E. 9th St., Cleveland
8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Radisson Eastlake
35000 Curtis Blvd., Eastlake
11 a.m.-3 p.m.

October 16
Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Holy Grove Missionary Baptist Church
2844 E. 130th St., Cleveland
10 a.m.-2 p.m.

We’ll have more listings for you next week. Remember, while many of the creatures in True Blood may be only products of the imagination, real people need real blood every day–and in our world, there is no substitute! So make your reservations, make your appointment, give blood, and join us for the “True Blood” Dinner Wednesday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m.! We promise a meal you can really sink your teeth into!

Join us for a bite at our True Blood Dinner Oct. 27

We wanna do…um, actually, good things with you!

What’s the story behind our theme for October’s special dinner at the Bistro?
Well, if you’ve ever had a chance to talk with Chef Ruth about the topic of TV, one thing you know is that her favorite show is HBO’s True Blood. She can’t get enough of the saga of the vampires, telepaths, and shapeshifters that inhabit Bon Temps, Louisiana, where the good times bleed as much as they roll. So what better theme for the month of Halloween than a dinner based on True Blood?

It wasn’t long before Ruth came up with the perfect tribute: a dinner composed entirely of red dishes and red libations, from appetizers to dessert. And quite a few of them are inspired by classic Louisiana cuisine. Here’s what’s on the menu:

First Course
Shrimp Fritters with Red Devil Aioli

Second Course
Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage
Red Beans and Rice

Third Course
Roasted Red Beet and Pomegranate Salad
Balsamic Drizzle

Fourth Course
Seared Ahi Tuna with Red Cherry Sauce

Fifth Course
Roasted Beef Tenderloin Medallion with Red Wine Sauce
Root Vegetable Mash

Sixth Course
Red Velvet Cake with Raspberry Coulis

The dinner starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. on October 27 and is $65 per person, tax and gratuity additional. But the dinner itself isn’t the whole story. Sign up for this one and you can earn yourself a nice treat while helping up to three other people — and possibly even saving their lives.

As you may have heard, right now our region is in desperate need of blood. This time of year is often a low time for donations, and the need is critical. Because when it comes to “true blood,” there is no substitute!

That’s why, when you register for the Bistro 185 True Blood Dinner and donate blood between now and October 27, you’ll earn a $25 gift certificate good for a future visit to the Bistro. Simply show us your Red Cross blood donor card indicating the date of your donation to receive your gift certificate.

To make a donation appointment or for more information, call 1.800.RED.CROSS or visit the Red Cross blood donation Web site. To make donating easier, we’ll be publicizing locations and times of blood donation opportunities over the next month here on the blog. You can also find donation locations and times near your area on that site by plugging in your ZIP code. (The locations and times we list here on the blog will be based on our ZIP code, 44119.)

Here are a few locations you can take advantage of tomorrow!

Donation Locations and Times

Sept. 29
Cleveland Clinic Surgical Center
9500 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

200 Public Square (former BP Building), Cleveland
10 a.m.-2 p.m.

John Carroll University
20700 North Park Blvd., University Heights
Noon-7 p.m.

Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
1:30-8 p.m.

We’ll continue to post blood donation locations and times here on the blog up until the time of the True Blood Dinner. Even if you can’t attend the dinner, we’re hoping you will consider the critical need for blood and make a donation.

Come “Join Us for a Bite” on October 27 and help your community! Call 216.481.9635 and make your reservation today — then call the Red Cross and schedule your blood donation appointment. “True Blood: There Is No Substitute. Donate Now!”

For goodness: Sake Dinner

The Tenant here, with a review of the Bistro’s Sake Dinner last week (if you haven’t yet, check out the video in the previous blog post). As I think I mentioned earlier, I particularly love Asian food, so I knew this special dinner was going to be a standout for me. When Ruth and her team put their talents to this kind of cuisine, it’s always something fantastic, as I remember from last year’s sake dinner. This one was every bit as wonderful.

The courses started off with Seared Day Boat Scallop with Golden Trout Caviar atop Forbidden Black Jasmine Rice with Chinese Sausage and Ginger Beurre Blanc. Again I repeat, if you’re a person who loves scallops but can’t stand the way some chefs turn them into overcooked, rubbery little hockey pucks, you must try them the way Ruth cooks them. They’re always cooked to perfect doneness and then caramelized on the outside just enough to give them a little bit of crispy brown crust to contrast with the tender inside. This one, wearing its gold caviar crown, sat like a king atop a mountain of black rice mixed with tiny chunks of Chinese sausage. The rice had a dense, nutty flavor, and the ginger beurre blanc provided a nice touch of sweetness and just a subtle hint of citrus. The sake served with this course was a very enjoyable Murai Family Tanrei Junmai. As I was last year, I continue to be impressed and dazzled by how many different varieties of sake exist. Yes, I used to think sake was sake; that it was all the same! Obviously, I know better now!

Our second course was a triple treat: Pistachio-Crusted Chicken Tonkatsu with Curry Aioli, Grilled Korean Beef Lettuce Wrap and Sesame Japanese Eggplant. With three items as delicious as these on one plate, it was hard to know which to eat first. I decided on the lettuce wrap, which was a pick-up-and-eat street-food kind of entree. The marinated beef sits in the lettuce leaves with a sprig of green onion and a little marinade dressing, and you just hold it all together and eat it! It was absolutely delicious, with just a touch of mint as a refreshing contrast to the spice. Speaking of spice, the chicken delivered delightfully, thanks to the curry aioli. It was a winning combination of nutty, crispy, and a little hot and tangy. And then there was the sauteed eggplant, tender and flavorful. The accompanying sake was Momokawa Junmai Pearl, which, true to its name, was a cloudy, milky-looking “pearl”-style sake with a lot of “kick.”

Third on our Asian excursion were little pots of Shrimp Scallion Dumpling Soup. The savory broth of this soup contained another triple delight: strips of tender pork in the won ton soup tradition, delicate baby shrimp, and a dainty, positively melt-in-your-mouth dumpling. It was rich in flavor and tasty to the last drop, as were the heady sakes served along with it: G-Joy and Moonstone Asian Pear Sake.

A contrast to the dishes served hot was the fourth course, Cold Soba Noodles with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce. This one needed no heat from the stove, because the fire was right in the chilies that flavor it; the noodles were pleasingly spicy and tongue-awakening without numbing your palate. I had fun using my chopsticks to wind up and eat the noodles the same way I used to see my Uncle Frank eat his spaghetti–I guess that despite my love of Asian food, I’m an Italian at heart! The chopsticks were also useful for picking up the scattering of edamame beans that lay at the base of each mountain of noodles. At the peak of that mountain: one heavenly shrimp, just barely coated in tempura batter and fried, greaseless and light as a feather. A full-bodied Murai Family Nigori Genshu sake accompanied this dish.

The last of the savory courses was a treat for sushi lovers, with slices of Yuzu Ahi Tuna Sashimi Style taking the center of the plate. These ruby-red, utterly fresh slices of tuna were coated with a crust of black and golden sesame seeds, and accompanied by a bed of thinly shredded Daikon-Carrot Salad with Ginger Miso Dressing and paper-thin slices of pickled ginger. The contrasts of cool fresh fish, crunchy seeds and spicy-sweet ginger with the refreshing, lightly dressed slaw made for a perfect combination with the Choya Umeshu Sake. As distributor representative Greg Webster explained to us, this sake, made with a fruit known in Japan as umeshu but often referred to by Westerners as a “plum” (you can see it sitting right at the bottom of the container), is the third most popular alcoholic beverage in Japan, after beer and vodka. From its slightly sweet, intense flavor, I could understand why.

The evening ended with a perfect dessert course. Each plate contained a tiny scoop of lychee ice cream in a chocolate cup, a delightfully creamy custard tartlet encased in a flaky-light crust, and a variety of melon balls (and a lychee) that had been marinated in sake. The sake served with dessert was Choya Ume Blanc, a refreshing and mildly sweet ice-wine-like drink, and Choya Sake Jumani, which I think I’d have to choose as my favorite among the sakes for its unique flavor with a hint of lime essence. The perfect ending to an incredible meal!

I had the pleasure of sharing a table for this dinner with the proud mother of Chef Todd Mueller, and we had a fine evening indeed. As you might expect, she’s not exactly modest about her son’s accomplishments in the kitchen, but with a son who cooks the way hers does, she doesn’t need to be! This dinner was another triumph for Chefs Ruth, Todd and the whole Bistro crew. Whether eaten with chopsticks, knife and fork, or a little of both, it was sensational!

If this description has helped whet your appetite for a Bistro special dinner, and especially if you like Southwestern, Mexican and Latin American flavors, you’ll want to make your reservation quickly for the August 25 dinner. It will be a fiesta of tequilas, served with appropriate accompanying dishes. Look for the menu to appear here soon!

Join us for our Sake Dinner July 28

Whether you’ve already experienced the pleasures of a sake dinner at Bistro 185, or you’ve never tasted sake before, our July 28 “Sake To Me II” Dinner is an evening you shouldn’t miss — especially if you’re a fan of Asian-inspired cuisine. We’re planning a delightful evening of six courses perfectly paired with a selection of six sake wines that is sure to leave your tastebuds delighted. Here’s the menu:

First Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop with Golden Trout Caviar
Forbidden Black Jasmine Rice with Chinese Sausage
Ginger Beurre Blanc
Murai Family Pearl Genshu Sake

Second Course
Pistachio-Crusted Chicken Tonkatsu with Curry Aioli
Grilled Korean Beef Lettuce Wrap
Sesame Japanese Eggplant
Moonstone Asian Pear Sake

Third Course
Scallion Dumpling Soup
Choya Umensu Sake

Fourth Course
Soba Noodles with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
Tempura Shrimp
Moonstone Raspberry Sake

Fifth Course
Yuzu Ahi Tuna — Sashimi Style
Daikon-Carrot Salad with Ginger Miso Dressing
Moonstone Plum Sake

Sixth Course
Lychee Ice Cream
Sake-Marinated Assorted Melons
Custard Tartlet
Murri-Sugidama Sake

Cost of our Sake Dinner is $65, excluding tax and gratuity. Our Russian Champagne and Vodka Dinner sold out, so be sure to make reservations for this one early to secure your place. Call 216.481.9635, and accompany us on a culinary journey to Asia that you’ll never forget!

Italian Regional Wine Dinner: Molto bene!

Hello, this is The Tenant again, with a review of last night’s Italian Regional Wine Dinner. Ruth and her crew may just have topped themselves this time, as far as I’m concerned. This was possibly the best-paced wine dinner the Bistro has presented yet, with an excellent selection of courses beautifully executed — and those who know more about wine than I admittedly do also said the wines were paired perfectly to each course.

Last night’s wines were presented by Jim Dunlevy of Barrel Aged Wine in Concord, Ohio, a direct importer of artisan wines from small Italian regional wineries. He readily shared with us his expertise on these wines, most of which are produced and imported in very small quantities.

The feast began with individual antipasto plates filled with every variety of traditional Italian appetizer, from mozzarella rolls to sliced meats to Italian-style tuna salad, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Slender breadsticks also graced every table and made fine palate cleansers between courses and wines. The antipasto platters were served with 2007 Nicolis Valpolicella Classico DOC, from the region north of Verona and east of Lake Garda, a red wine made with the same varietals found in Amarone and Reciotto. This was a smooth and easily drinkable wine that was a perfect accompaniment to the antipasto.

Next came Tortellini en Brodo, or wild-mushroom tortellini in a very clear, lovely broth. Accompanying this course was 2005 Pavia Bricca Blina Barbera D’Asti DOC. This red wine, a great pasta accompaniment, is very rich and full-bodied, no doubt due to the 11-month-long rest it enjoys in stainless steel tanks following fermentation, to bring out all the flavor of the Barbera grapes the Pavia family has used exclusively in its five generations of winemaking.

The Pappardelle Pasta Bolognese and Natural Pan Sauce with Petit Veal Osso Bucco, with its tender fall-off-the-bone veal and spicy tomato-sauced pasta, had just the right match in the 2006 Poggerino Chianti Classico DOCG. Only 200 cases of this wine are imported into the United States each year; if you were at last night’s dinner you had the opportunity to order your own share, a wonderful idea if you love a wine with a heady bouquet that holds its own when teamed up with a rich meat dish.

Following this course was the delightful Caprese Salad in a Parmesan Basket, bright and fresh with a variety of greens, grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella slices and balsamic vinaigrette. The salad spilled from a basket made of 100 percent shredded Parmesan cheese — no flour, no filler — and crispy and tasty as could be. Its selected wine was 2007 Piero Busso Langhe Bianco DOC, a spirited 50-50 chardonnay-sauvignon blended white that is also fermented in stainless steel, and imported to this country exclusively by Barrel Aged Wine (only 3,000 bottles are produced each year). As we learned, it’s an ideal wine for salad or for drinking on its own.

So many Bistro patrons especially appreciate Chef Ruth’s touch with a scallop, and that was once again on display last night in the Seared Scallop with Black Truffle Soft Polenta and Asparagus. Each scallop, perfectly cooked, sat on a bed of baby-soft polenta, surrounded by crisp green asparagus slices. The 2005 Palagetto Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, fermented and aged in oak for more than a year, tasted just right alongside.

The ideal finish to the evening came in the form of a Ricotta Mascarpone Crêpe with Zabaglione and Fresh Berries. The zabaglione, flavorful with lemon zest and Limoncello, was delightful and the little added treats on the plate (such as mocha custard in a chocolate cup, topped with a berry) made dessert even more special. So did the wine served with it, 2007 CA’D GAL Moscato Di Asti. The bright, crisp, fruity taste of this white makes it yet another wine that’s very easy to enjoy on its own as well as with a dessert. This one is produced in only a 1,000-case quantity each year and only 100 of those cases per year make it to the USA, so once again this was an opportunity to sample a wine not easily obtained in this country.

It was a special night, full of interesting information, magnificent flavors and experiences, and many delights for anyone who loves well-prepared food and lovingly created small-batch Italian wines. Kudos once again to Chef Ruth and her crew, Jim Dunlevy and the entire Bistro 185 staff for another memorable evening!

If you missed out, the video below will give you a little taste of this very enjoyable evening — and maybe encourage you to sign up for the next wine dinner February 15! Details to come!

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!

A change in plan

It’s almost the middle of December, and here at the Bistro we’re changing things up a bit. Rather than continue our James Beard project all the way through to Christmas, we’re going to put it on a little hiatus, and then resume the daily specials based on James Beard dishes in January. Tonight, however, if you missed last night’s Portuguese Fish Stew, you can catch it one last time — we’re bringing it back by popular demand, as our final Beard special until next month.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t still be here blogging. Watch this space to learn more about our current specials of the non-Beard variety through the rest of December. There will be plenty of them, and they’ll sure to tempt you in the door for a taste, especially when you get tired of holiday cooking, baking and entertaining and have a hankering to just sit down and relax while someone else is in the kitchen. As time gets shorter and things get more hectic, you’ll always be able to find a little oasis of peace, quiet and pampering right here at Bistro 185. Come on in and treat yourself!

Pop some corks with us December 28!

You’ll have the opportunity to pop the champagne before New Year’s Eve when you join us for our special Champagne Wine Dinner Monday, December 28. We’ll be pairing a selection of Veuve Clicquot Champagnes with the following dishes:

Coquilles St. Jacques
Baby Lamb Chop with Roasted Red Pepper Orzo Risotto
Tuna Ceviche in Champagne, Lime, Cilantro and Jalapeño Vinaigrette with Organic Baby Greens
Duck Confit with Orange-Ginger Glaze
Lyonnaise Potato Timbale
Butter-Poached South African Lobster Tail with Confetti Vegetables
Dessert Course: Champagne Sorbet, French Crèpe with Sweet Cheese and Cherry Sauce

Cost of the Champagne Wine Dinner is $60 per person in advance, gratuity and tax additional. Don’t miss this chance to celebrate the end of 2009 with some truly fine champagne and some wonderful food — make your reservations now at 216.481.9635.

Hint, hint: A reservation for this dinner makes a perfect holiday gift for the wine lovers on your list!