February 6, 2008

Restaurant Week Visit #3: Bistro Bis

For over a year now some friends have been telling me that I've just got to try Bistro Bis, near Union Station, in the Hotel George. So I thought, what better time to try it than during Restaurant Week? I had also recently read that Bistro Bis is one of the best restaurants to visit during RW because they offer choices that are actually representative of their regular menu. In addition to the offerings at the RW lunch and dinner prices ($20.08 and $30.08, respectively) you can try other items from their regular menu by just paying a few more dollars, so you really are able to get a taste for the restaurant. I went there for dinner and it was quite good.
My fellow diner started with Onion Soup Les Halles, a "rich broth with sweet onions and sourdough croûtons topped with gruyere and emmenthaler cheese." It was very tasty, not too salty, and the cheese was delicious. After the soup was finished we were still trying to find pieces of crusty cheese baked onto the lid of the soup bowl. Yum!
For the first time in my life I ordered snails. I've never had anything against them, but I've just never been curious enough to try them. But I figured, we can't both have the onion soup, and so I ordered the Fricassée d’Escargot, "sautéed wild burgundy snails with roasted garlic, chanterelle mushrooms, pearl onions, lardons, parsley butter and veal jus"
~ this cost an additional $3 and it was worth it for the experience. I'd say I have a fairly adventurous palate, but I think I may have a mental block against eating snails. I managed to finish them, but it wasn't easy. The mushrooms were delicious, as was the sauce, and my companion declared the snails delicious, but I don't think that I'll order snails again.
For an entree I ordered the Côte de Porc Sardalaise, "pan roasted rib chop with garlic, bacon lardon, fingerling potatoes, swiss chard and honey thyme vinegar sauce." As someone who does not eat much meat, I generally make an effort to eat meat when I go out to make up for the lack of it in my daily diet.
And I'm so glad I did. This rib chop was delicious. Tender, savory, with perfectly cooked little potatoes and a sauce that complemented the flavors in the meat and the chard. Highly recommended.
My friend ordered the Salmon Aux Lentilles,
"seared mustard crusted filet with bacon
lardons and red wine braised beluga lentils." This was a big hit for both of us. I cannot remember the last time I tasted such fresh salmon!

I also love lentils and lardons - how can you go wrong with this dish? Needless to say we were both more than pleased with our entrees and the appetizers. No I wasn't crazy about the snails, but I think that's more about me not liking snails than about Bistro Bis not knowing how to serve them.
We were so excited when it came time for desserts. My partner gourmand ordered the Chocolate Toffee Bread Pudding "served warm with hazelnuts and toffee anglaise." This was good, but I prefer bread pudding without chocolate. The hazelnuts were toasted and delicious, and there is almost no way to err when combining them with chocolate. The toffee sauce was also tasty, and in all the dessert was not heavy, but still rich and tasty.
I ordered the Bistro Apple Tart with
"caramelized apples, crisp pastry, vanilla bean crème fraîche and calvados sauce."
This was probably my favorite dish of the night. I love apple tarts and this one was delicious. A perfect light and flaky crust, not too much sugar in the tart, just the right drizzle of calvados sauce to give a hint of flavor without overpowering the tart with sweetness, and the creme fraiche was a delightful addition both asthetically and flavorwise. Please order this if you go to Bistro Bis.
*Not remembering much about the restrooms but that probably means they were up to my standards. I do remember that they are down a flight of stairs. I'm sure there is an elevator, since it's a hotel, but that was a little out of the way. Great service, great space with high ceilings and an open kitchen, and I love the ties that the servers wear. I will be back here, definitely.


Anonymous said...

The snails were very good.....if you like snails. That is all.

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