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Friday, September 1, 2017

Dining Out Southeast: Bistro Two Eighteen, Birmingham, AL

We recently went with friends to enjoy an evening in Birmingham. Luckily for us, our visit fell during Birmingham's Restaurant Week. 

Doubly lucky for us, we chose Bistro Two Eighteen.

Here's a blurb from their website:
Bienvenue! Bistro 218 combines the traditions of a French bistro with modern American cuisine. Located at 218 20th Street North, Birmingham native and professionally trained chef owner Tom Saab joins the revival of businesses in downtown Birmingham.
Bistro 218 features the elegant minimalist interior design of traditional French bistros while preserving the historical roots of the building, creating a comfortable romantic atmosphere. Bistro 218 brings French cuisine to every palette. Enjoy your bistro favorites, from quiche to duck confit! We strive to provide quality affordable food and impeccable service to all of our neighborhood friends.
The atmosphere IS comfortable and romantic. The mood changed as more people entered the dining room and the lively fun began. It was never so noisy to hamper conversation.
While perusing the menu, Chef Saab came through the dining room making a last minute check of everything before the dinner service began. He graciously agreed to a photo with me!
To begin our evening, I chose I chose a Sweet Tallulah ($11.00) made with sparkling wine, St. Germain, Lillet, Rose Water, and lemon. My friend chose a French 75 ($10.00) made with Gin, fresh squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup and St. Germain topped with sparkling wine. Both were perfectly mixed, cold and served with appropriate garnishes.
The males of the group selected a Sazerac made with Bulleit Rye Whiksey, Peychaud's Bitters, Demerara Simple Syrup, Absinthe ($12.00).  Look at the PERFECT ice cube in that drink. It's this type of attention to detail that gets your attention! 
The next drink selection was a 1792 Small Batch Bourbon ($10.00). 
No complaints with any of our drink orders.  They were all delicious.
Our server was attentive and helpful with our menu inquiries. Because it was Restaurant Week, one of the options for dinner was a Pre Fixe Menu which included an appetizer, entree, and dessert for a price of $40.00. Everyone in our party chose this option. By doing this, our table had every item offered on this special menu! 
The bread selection offered during our ordering time, was a freshly baked and sliced loaf of warm, soft white bread with herbed butter.
Now on to our first course:
I ordered the New Orleans Style File' Gumbo which included crawfish, shrimp and andouille sausage. Regular readers of the blog know that I abhor a lukewarm soup or gumbo. No problem with that here. This cup was served steaming hot and had the velvet like texture you get when the roux has been perfectly cooked.
The other diners chose the Bistro Chopped Salad with a red wine vinaigrette and Parmesan Tuile. If the saying "we eat with our eyes first" is true, this one is a masterpiece. Everyone agreed this salad with nicely seasoned and dressed lightly with the delicious vinaigrette and loved the Parmesan Tuile.
Now on to the entrees!
Two diners chose the Blackened Louisiana Redfish served over McEwen's yellow corn grits, roast tomato burre blanc, with fried okra. Again, the presentation is exceptional! The fish was nicely seasoned (not too spicy!), perfectly cooked, and the grits won rave reviews. Notice the okra pods which were fried whole and used as a lovely garnish.
Sweet Harold chose the Tournedos au Poivre which translates to tenderloin medallions served with brandy cream sauce, potato gratin and braised kale. He ordered the tenderloin cooked medium rare and it was perfectly cooked. The brandy cream sauce was a nice compliment to the beef. He thoroughly enjoyed his selection.
Last, but not least, I chose the Free Range Chicken Pailards served with lemon butter caper sauce, over creamy risotto. If there is ever an option on the menu which includes "lemon butter caper sauce," I'm ordering! Once again, the presentation was just lovely. You have to agree this plate is almost too pretty to eat! But, no worries, I did eat.  Every bite!

At last! Dessert!! Our table went 2/2 on the selections for this round!

The crème brûlée was just as it should be, a rich custard topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. I did get a bit of this one and it was delicious!

Sweet Harold and I chose the Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart topped with sea salt and caramel. One word:  RICH!  But again, I ate every bite.
If you're in the Birmingham area and desire a unique dining experience with delicious food, an inviting atmosphere, and excellent services, please visit Bistro Two Eighteen. You won't be disappointed.

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