Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Under $25 at Bistro 25

After one visit, this hidden away gem fast became my favorite go-to affordable restaurant for New American casual fine dining. With every dish and every bottle of wine from their fairly sizeable list under $25, Bistro 25 is an absolute treat, where upscale taste combines with great value.

Truffled Mac and Cheese
Service is definitely high-end but intimate, with presentation that is worthy of a New York City restaurant rather than a quiet corner of a quaint little village. The maple roasted butternut squash soup was to die for, creamy, rich, and poured piping hot into your bowl over lovely creme fraiche (seasonal), and the lobster bisque is rich and satisfying.

Mushroom Risotto
The small plates are pretty generous portions, especially the Truffled Mac and Cheese (a combination of smoked gouda, cheddar, and parmesan) and the chock-ful of mushroom risotto. Super rich and heavy, ideal for a winter starter in the cozy atmosphere of this homey Hamptons-style restaurant. The Smoked Mozzarella Ricotta Fritters, balls of fresh, flavorful cheese in a fresh sweet tomato sauce is also fabulous, and the braised pork belly with pickled shallots, corn pudding, and an apple demi-glace will be the next new thing I try.
Smoked Ricotta Mozzarella Fritters

They used to serve a rather fabulous salad with beets, frisee, asparagus, and goat cheese, but it seems to be off the menu now. Instead, it appears that a few of the ingredients were substituted as an updated Sweet and Sour Salad with lardons and a pickled egg.

Beet, Pear, Frisee and Asparagus Salad
The portions are not whopping, but again, neither are the prices. They're more portions are more nutrition-guideline sizes rather than Supersize Me Americanized plates, and packed with sophisticated yet robust flavor that fills you up to a healthy point without feeling disgusting. For instance, the brandy peppercorned Steak Frite is only 10 ounces, and although you wish there was more just to keep the taste going, you're glad you have room to share a dessert. The salmon, atop a creamy, perfect risotto and topped with fried leeks, is also an ideal size (although the new menu doesn't have it anymore, either ...). The Burgundy-Braised Short Ribs, served with whipped horseradish potatoes, are also worth a try, with a subtle richness that's perfect for the coming fall.

A new addition to the menu that sound particularly exciting is the Duck Cassoulet (duck confit, andouille sausage, white beans and spaetzle), which for $18 sounds like a particularly good bargain. 

Steak Sandwich
For sandwiches, the Shrimp Po'Boy isn't exactly authentic, but unlike the disappointing impostor at Bobbi-Que, it's actually tasty on its own merit. The steak sandwich is satisfying, with a generous portion of gruyere melted all over a hot, crusty baguette. Again, you'd wish there was a little more steak, but you'll forgive the size once you dig into the perfectly medium meat and dip into the fragrant au jus. Also, you'll be surprised at how tender the steak is--I certainly was.

Carrot Cake Bread Pudding
Now dessert. Definitely worth digging into here. The Carrot Cake Bread Pudding is an incredibly inventive feature, and well executed, served with delicious thin shortbread wafers and a dab of cream cheese ice cream. It's not daunting, and the taste packs a punch. Not too sweet, with an extra-moist, dense, cake texture, it's a very interesting spin. The Lemon Blackberry Tarte Tatin is kind of blah after the excitement of the bread pudding, and also pales next to the sweet and creamy Creme Brulee.

I also can't wait to try the brunch here. The simple fact that they offer 2 brunch cocktails on their already low-priced prix fixe menu ($15, I think?) is highly attractive, and they have nice, refined spins on classic offerings. 

Overall, I love, love, LOVE this place, and just writing about it has inspired a text to the hubby to try the summer lobster menu offerings before the season's out. You can't beat 4 lobster dinner options for UNDER $20!

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