Sunday, March 1, 2009

Catching up with restaurant week - Bistro Bis

Bistro Bis, the sister restaurant to Vidalia, has been on Erin's and my must-visit list since we got kind of sloshed at Vidalia's restaurant week lunch this past summer. All the food was so good, and the service was above and beyond anything I ave experiences (a tour of the kitchen!) We figured even if Bistro Bis was half as good, it would still be fabulous.

And for the most part it was. The restaurant week menu was cut down a little bit, but not much. There were still enough choices to make most everyone happy. Erin started with the beef tartar. She's sort of a faux vegetarian, but her kryptonite is always beef tartar. It was delicious and came with a nice, wholegrain mustard. I had the tuna salad, which came with seared, sesame-crusted tune, anchovies, tomatoes, olives, some type of orange, fennel, and some other fresh delicious things that I am forgetting. It was light and extremely flavorful.

For dinner Erin, conitnuing with her vegetarian theme, had the lamb shank. It looked phenomenal, and she raved about it. Of the two pieces I tried, one was succulent and one was dry. So I would have give a mixed review, but it might be better to take Erin's word for it since she did most of the eating of it. I will say that you get your money's worth in portions, though! the shank was huge!

I went with the porkchop with baked apples. Unlike the lamb, I did not fnd a dry bite in my meat. It was cooked to perfection, but the sides were only ok. They didn't all seem to go with each other. There were the apples and then some spinach-type leaf wilted with tomatoes and an onion. The salad stuff was nice and the apples were pretty good too, but I didn't like them together. The dish lacked cohesion.

The desserts were good, but slightly disappointing as well. I had the apple pastry. It was obviously housemade (or gave a very good impersonation of housemade). Points for effort there, but the apples weren't terribly sweet. The sweetness of the crust made up for it to a certain degree except that it was a bit overbaked, and the top ended up too dry and flaky. I'm sure it seem cliche, but what it really needed was a scoop of vanilla icecream to balance out the lack of sugar in the apples and the dryness in the crust. Sadly no icecream to be found.

Erin went with the seasonal sorbets and had no complaints. She had a passionfruit and a mango (I think). The mango was delicious, but the passion fruit was really something special. It was probably the most intensely flavorful sorbet I have ever and may ever taste. My whole face sucked it with flavor when I tried it. I don't think Erin could have finished a bigger portion of that sorbet even she had wanted to. It would have been overwhleming.

I greatly regretted telling our server that we weren't in a huge rush, though, because he took that to mean it was acceptable to serve us the most leisurely of dinners. It took a big flashing sign reading "WE'RE READY TO ORDER" to get our server to come back after bringing out drinks. Then our appetizers came out a few minutes after the apps at the table next to us (who had arrive a few minutes after us but still had their order taken first), and our dinner came out a good 10 minutes after theirs. Things only got progressively slower. Desserts came out easily 15 minutes or more after the table next to us, and the check actually never came. It was so late by that point that I had to flag down two different off duty servers (both were exceptionally polite and helpful) to bring the check and run our credit cards.

Judging on just one visit, it is hard to say definitely if Bistro Bis is as fabulous as Vidalia. There were a few misses in the food but nothing major. Our server was fun and extremely pleasant, but terrible at reading customers' needs and timing. I would say it's worth another visit, if I have the chance, before making a final decision, but if I had to pick between Vidalia and Bistro Bis based on first impressions, Vidalia is still the winner by a mile. (I mean, we got a freaking tour of the kitchen!)

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