Give your Valentine a sweet treat at our Valentine’s Chocolate Wine Dinner!

It’s that time of year again…time to start thinking about hearts, flowers and romance. At the Bistro, our suggestion is always: If your beloved adores chocolate, be imaginative! Don’t settle for a heart-shaped candy box when you can give your Valentine the full chocolate experience: our Valentine’s Chocolate Wine Dinner. On Valentine’s Eve, Wednesday, February 13, at 6:30, we’re serving six full courses (plus an amuse-bouche) of chocolate-based and chocolate-kissed delights, each paired with a wine sure to kindle the fires of passion:

Aperitif: Juve y Camps Cava

First Course
Butter-Poached Lobster Tail
White Chocolate-Saffron Sauce with Pappardelle Pasta
Wine: Icardi Cortese

Second Course
Pan-Seared Duck Breast
Orange-Chipotle Mole Sauce
Wine: Le Cigare Volant

Third Course
Grilled Baby Hearts of Romaine Caesar Salad
Wine: One Last Kiss White Blend

Fourth Course
American Kobe Sirloin
Shiitake Mushroom Cap
Black Truffle Chocolate Drizzle
Wine: Jim Barry Cover Drive Cab

Fifth Course
Hazelnut–Panko Crusted Day Boat Scallop
Nutella Sauce
Wine: Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc

Sixth Course
Chef’s Whim Trio of Chocolate-Inspired Desserts
Wine: Bugey Botex Du Cedron

The cost of our rapturous salute to chocolate and love is $100 plus tax and gratuity. Reserve your place and delight your Valentine by calling 216.481.9635. It’ll be a sweet soiree indeed!

Valentine Chocolate Dinner: everything your heart desires

One thing you should know about me, The Tenant, by now is that I adore chocolate. Our love affair has been a very long one, and shows no signs of ending, ever. So, you could say the Bistro 185 Valentine’s Day Chocolate Dinner is made for me.  Certainly, this dinner didn’t cause me to fall out of love; it only deepened our existing relationship.

To sweeten the deal further, the Bistro’s choice of wine accompaniment for this dinner was all from one source: R&B Cellars of Alameda, California, the city’s largest family-owned winery, started by jazz musicians whose passion for their music is reflected in the names they bestow upon their products. It seems only fitting that music suited to love and romance be connected to the wines served at this event.

Things got off to a perfect start with the first course, Pappardelle Pasta with Lobster in a White Chocolate-Saffron Cream Sauce. I’m not even a big fan of white chocolate, but the sauce on this dish was just perfect: light and creamy but with a tiny, subtle touch of sweetness, so complementary for the buttery lobster meat. The wine, too, could not have been a better choice: Serenade in Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, a just as smooth and buttery as the dish itself.

From seafood we went to a hearty, beefy dish, without a misstep along the way. I’d had a taste of the Chocolate Merlot Demi-Glace that was going to accompany the Espresso and Cocoa-Rubbed Medallion of Beef Tenderloin earlier in the afternoon, and dreamed of how well it would go with the beef. It did! Unbelievable. The meat was cooked sous vide to slightly pink perfection on the inside, so it was tender as velvet. The Arugula and Roasted Red Peppers alongside were like a mini-salad, spiced up with a gently astringent vinaigrette. Our wine for the course was the hearty Saxy Syrah, deeply fruity and peppery and just right.

At the Bistro, even the salad courses are something out of the usual, and this one certainly lived up to its reputation. I’d never had a Chopped Caesar Salad quite like this one before. Not with shaved white cheddar cheese streaked with chocolate throughout the cheese itself, and sprinkled with cocoa nibs! (The cheese on its own is unutterably delicious. I could eat it by itself.) And Ruth had found a unique way to add the customary anchovies to the salad: in the form of a perfect little fritter. Unique and delicious–a hot and savory contrast to the cool salad and that heavenly cheese. The wine alongside was Swingsville Zin, which Chris Victor of Superior Wine distributors explained to us is made with grapes from 70-year-old vines, combined with just a bit of petite syrah. I don’t know whether it’s the vines, the syrah or what, but this was one plummy, smooth-tasting Zin.

We had one more meat course to go, and it was something special. The Lamb Chop Milanese, a lollipop-style lamb chop, arrived on its bed of Mexican Hot Chocolate Sauce pillowed by a light and airy Pumpkin Flan. This was a delightful mixture of flavors: savory lamb, sweet chocolate, orange and a hint of spice. (It was more like “Hot Chocolate” than “Mexican Hot”–a phrase that tends to make people think of chilies and the like.) Appropriately enough for the flavor blend of the dish, the wine was a true blended wine: The Improviser, a spicy, fruity melding of Zin and a number of other varietals.

Only dessert awaited us after that, and when the dinner is chocolate, you know the dessert is going to be chocolately fabulous. Our Chocolate Bouchee with Strawberries combined tender pastry with chocolate ganache and salted caramel on a bed of strawberry coulis, crowned with a huge, fat, juicy sweet strawberry coated in milk chocolate and drizzled in white chocolate. Oh yes. This hit the spot. What a finish. Our dessert wine was Fortissimo Port, a wine made from Portuguese varietals grown in California and made in the traditional Portuguese manner. Just the right partner for our chocolate conclusion!

Should Ruth decide to explore the potentials of chocolate again next Valentine’s season, all I can say is: if you’ve enjoyed any of her chocolate dinners thus far, you know you’ll sign up again, and if you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to do so, especially if you’re a chocolate lover like me. You’ll discover new depths to your passion that you never before knew. And that’s a satisfying romance, whether you’re dining with a partner or solo. A Bistro 185 chocolate dinner is sure to satisfy your palate and steal away your heart.

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.