Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bistro 19

Last night, SP & I ate at one of our favorite places in Pittsburgh: Bistro 19. It's in Mt. Lebanon on Washington Rd. (also called Route 19). This was our third visit and it did not disappoint.

We started off by each ordering a glass of wine. For me, the featured wine of the day: Clay Station Viognier. It was wonderful. Viognier is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, maybe even better than sauvignon blanc. SP ordered a glass of Rudolf Muller Riesling - he likes rieslings a lot. I thought it was a good riesling, but I much preferred the viognier.

Appetizers. We have never had a bad appetizer at Bistro 19. Last night we opted to share the Lemon Pepper Calimari with Citrus Caper Remoulade.

These were so darn tasty! The breading was light, not heavy, and they weren't greasy. The remoulade was very good - and a nice change from the usual marinara or mustard type dipping sauce. I could have eaten the entire plate myself while SP was enjoying his Shiitake Noodle Soup, but I called upon my willpower to save half the calamari for him. Actually, I turned to the bread plate to distract me from eating more than my fair share of the calamari!!

SP's soup. It was the Soup of the Day, a shiitake-rice noodle soup. He said it was very good - lots of shiitake and noodles.The bread plate:A piece of brown bread with sesame seeds on the crust plus 2 pieces of a crunchy crusty white bread. The butter was very smooth and easily spreadable and looked like an herb had been mixed in - chives, perhaps? I rarely put butter on my bread, I prefer plain bread, but I put the tiniest bit of butter on last night. Unfortunately, it was too tiny to identify the herb!! SP agrees that it was probably chives.

Our entrees. I always get the same entree!!! It is so delicious: Black Tiger Shrimp stuffed with artichoke & spinach, roasted tomato parmesan cream, risotto, and wilted spinach. Oh my gosh. This dish is so good. There are 4 large shrimp stuffed with a delicious, creamy artichoke & spinach mixture. The risotto is wonderfully creamy and cheesy. The roasted tomato sauce is a delicious sauce into which I dipped each forkful of food. So good.

A side story: SP and I were very much entertained throughout the evening by the two couples at the table next to us. They were older couples, probably in their late 60's, and the women were very made up and sporting lots of large (gaudy, to me) jewelry while the men sported Hawaiian shirts and penny loafers with no socks. One of them ordered the Black Tiger Shrimp and all 4 of them were a bit baffled by the risotto. They wondered aloud for a few minutes if it was rice, or maybe potato, or maybe both, or was it something else...??? It really surprised us that people dining at this upscale bistro and in this day of Food Network TV and celebrity chefs seemingly everywhere that they would not know what risotto is... but maybe SP & I are just too interested in food and take a dish like risotto as a 'normal' food, not something unusual. They also seemed surprised by the strawberry sundae they ordered when it appeared on the table - as if it was an odd, unusual, strange sundae from a foreign land. Granted, it didn't look like a Dairy Queen sundae, but...

SP usually orders the duck, but last night he chose the special of the day: halibut. It came with rice and green beans. It was glazed with a soy sauce reduction mixture and there was a pineapple--mandarin orange-onion salsa on top, plus a long, thin chive across the plate. He said it was delicious.We ate every morsel on our plates.

Dessert time. I really couldn't decide last night. Not all the desserts listed on the online dessert menu were on last night's dessert menu. I don't enjoy banana desserts, so the Bananas Foster Napoleon was out. I wasn't in the mood for the cheesecake or strawberry sundae. The raspberry cabernet sorbet sounded good, but I wasn't sure I wanted that cold of a dessert. Plus, there was a dessert called Chocolate Tower. I was pretty sure it was going to be too rich for my taste, but the 'cookie dough mousse' sounded intriguing. Finally, after much debate, we decided to share the Chocolate Tower because we were just too curious about the cookie dough mousse! We also ordered iced tea for SP and decaf coffee for me.Oh my goodness. The Chocolate Tower -- a round bottom layer of very dense and rich chocolate brownie. The brownie was topped with the cookie dough mousse. The whole concoction was enveloped in a dark chocolatey ganache. On top of that, topping the tower, were caramel sauce and pecans. There was a dollop of whipped cream with a spring of mint plus 2 raspberries off to the side plus chocolate sauce and caramel drizzles on the plate.It was tasty, but no way could I have eaten this myself. We each had trouble eating our half! It was rich enough for us that even just a quarter of it would have satisfied our dessert craving. The cookie dough mousse was tasty, but there were so many little chocolate chips in the mousse that there wasn't really a dough-like taste or mousse-like texture to the cookie dough mousse.

We highly recommend Bistro 19. The hostess is always very friendly and helpful. Our servers have always been knowledgeable and always willing to check with the chef on the garlic for me and the gluten for SP (when he thought he had celiac disease). We never feel rushed. Usually, we sit by the window, which is nice, and they have these terrific blinds that block the strong sunlight but also still allow you to see the action out on Washington Rd. There's a couple outdoor tables. A terrific meal.

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