Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bistro Blanc - Dining Update

I've had the pleasure of dining with friends at Bistro Blanc several times in the past few weeks and thought I'd give a report. The news is good. The restaurant's been busy each of the weekday and weekend evenings we've been there. Reservations are certainly suggested for the weekend.

The food is consistently very fine, with Chef Marc Dixon's menu selections varying slightly depending on the fresh ingredients he finds each day. The menus online are indicative of what's served, but not necessarily what you'll find any given night. And even though restaurant week is just starting, Bistro Blanc has been offering a $30.95 prix fixe menu for several weeks now.

Among the starters, the flatbreads (either mushroom or prosciutto) are definitely winners, and we thoroughly enjoyed the grilled shrimp with grits, "pork 'n beans", and mussels with a very light curry sauce. We just wish it was easier to get extra bread to soak up the curry sauce; the bread is evidently finished in the oven for each order and takes a little time. Soups and salads have been good, but not as memorable as the other starters.

The slow cooked, or sous vide, salmon is still a standout entree. Most recently it came topped with a little red caviar or roe that added an interesting crunch to contrast with the pillow-soft salmon. There's also a slow cooked chicken, which was fine, but the salmon seems to really respond to the cooking method. A scallop risotto entree was tremendous, with enormous fresh grilled scallops. Steaks were grilled just right, though the accompanying potato galette was a little too dense.

We've learned to save room for desserts at Bistro Blanc. The chocolate ganache with vanilla gelato is a warm and cool treat. The peach strudel in phyllo looks massive but seems to quickly disappear. And you can't go wrong with a cheese plate or sorbets. They're both handled nicely.

I think I've finally figured out the Enomatic wine machine, which dispenses a taste, half glass or whole glass of various red or white selections. It's still a bit of a gimmick, good for tastings and conversation, but you can do just as well from the full wine list, or choose a bottle from the retail shelves and add a $10 corkage fee. Friends have also loved the extensive beer selection.

Bistro Blanc is also open for lunch and Sunday Brunch. I haven't tried those menus yet, but I'm happy to face the challenge. It's a treat having this restaurant in the area. If you haven't been yet, come on out.

See my previous dining review and capsule description of Bistro Blanc.

Bistro Blanc is on our list of Nearly Best Restaurants in Howard County.

Bistro Blanc regularly holds special dining events, including cooking classes. Check for them in our Monthly Restaurant Events listings.

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