Bistro Blanc in Glenelg/Columbia area?
Anyone heard of this or been? Coming from NYC and thought we'd make a Saturday night rez at Iron Bridge (based on chowhound recs) but it sounds like Saturday nights are jam-packed and that folks sit on top of each other. We wanted a bit more mellow while we're away from the Big Apple. That said, food quality is a priority...
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Bistro Blanc is a good choice as alternative to Iron Bridge. I've written a full review of a recent meal there on my blog. Here's an excerpt...
"Chef Marc Dixon's menu at Bistro Blanc is seasonal and already ahead of what's currently posted on the website. It's New American cuisine with a focus on fresh ingredients and sometimes complicated sauces. There's a welcome emphasis on presentation and texture as much as taste. When all three come together, it's a real treat.
Highlights of our recent visit included a grilled flatbread appetizer with portobello mushrooms, gruyere cheese and caramelized onions that was pizza-sized and ample for sharing. An entree of slow cooked salmon paired with a lobster reduction was exquisite -- it simply melted in my mouth while the flavors were rich and complex. Other diners raved about their entrees of lamb chops and wild rockfish."
Read full review at liveinhowardcounty.blogspot.com.
Hi Roxy9 - I went approximately two months ago with three friends. I'm a huge fan of Iron Bridge so gave Bistro Blanc a try. There are some good things and bad things about it. The food is VERY similar to Iron Bridge so you won't miss out on choosing one over the other, particularly given that you say it is the priority. Both have top quality food and the menu choices won't disappoint. It is actually uncanny how similar the food is all the way down to the cheese plate offerings and presentation. I will say, however, you won't miss out on the sardine factor by choosing Bistro Blanc over Iron Bridge. Bistro Blanc has a wonderful bar area and wine dispensary that is great to hang out in before being seated in the dining room. This area at Bistro Blanc stands the restaurant apart from Iron Bridge since there's very little room to browse bottles and linger at Iron Bridge. Once in the dining room, though, it's back to the madness.
In contrast to my experiences at Iron Bridge where the staff willl let you linger for hours at your table (even on busy nights), we were rushed at Bistro Blanc and the service was markedly substandard. We weren't brought fresh classes for a new and different bottle of wine until we asked. Then, we sat without wine in hand for the waiter to return with the glasses and cork the bottle for what seemed to be an astronomical amount of time. Also, we wanted to relax and finish the second bottle after completing our meal (something which we expressed to our waiter) but were all frustrated that our dirty plates were never cleared. So, we lingered over dirty plates for an additional half hour. Oh well.
Last Bistro Blanc complaint - I promise. A man who seemed to be in a management position approached me while I was browsing the wine selections in the retail area. I'm not sure if he is officially the sommelier or not. Nonetheless, he asked about my wine preferences and then negatively commented on the bottle I had in my hand. He suggested an alternative that was markedly pricier (approximately > $20 retail) and, quite frankly, pedestrian. That ruffled my feathers because it illustrated to me that 1) he wasn't listening to the preferences that were stated and 2) he was sucking the whole fun out of going to a wine bar and exploring.
Ok, so now that I've shared that information I will stress that my experience may not be indicative of the restaurant as a whole. I really did like the layout of the restaurant and thought the retail wine space and dispensary were wonderful. Plus, the food was excellent. Get there early enough to hang out for a while and have a drink before your seating. And, if you are looking for a mellow restaurant in the area, consider Cafe de Paris as a back up plan.
Thanks to everyone! We actually went tonight to Iron Bridge. We went early and had a relatively private table in the 'second' room - the one without the wine selection. The other room did become noisy quickly, but our table turned out to be ideal. We started by browsing the bottles of wine - albeit, I felt bad for the ppl at the table that was almost up against the wine bottles - to see the wines, you have to squeeze by them. That said, this concept of choosing a bottle and paying the minimal $10 corkage fee over retail was very appealing to us. Love the concept. Apps: fried calamari - good; and don't take this the wrong way, but it was probably great by local standards, we do better in Brooklyn. Lovely and light beet salad - perfectly balanced with feta and walnuts and a dressing that was not overbearing. Butternut/Arugula Pizza: Not so much a pizza (we like thin crust, charred), but really a flatbread with some good toppings. The flatbread was less crisp and thin than we prefer, but very enjoyable overall. For entrees, we had a lobster special with lobster sampled three ways - one was a lobster bisque which was superb, the other a lobster croquette which was very good and the third, a shelled lobster tail which was 'fine', not great. The service was terrific. Our waitress was knowledgeable and warm and as SGI mentioned, you are not rushed, even though it began to get quite crowded. Again, thanks to everyone - it was a nice night out!
When you're back in the area try Bistro Blanc. It is crowded on Saturday nights too, but they take reservations...or try on a weeknight (except Monday) or on Sunday evening. Same great food and service, but no crowds. Sunday nights they have a string quartet that plays all kinds of music (from Bach to Beatles) and there's usually no crowd. Lunch is great too.
My favorites: Scallops and risotto for dinner black forest ham with gruyere cheese and egg for lunch...