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Out of the Fray {Il Bistro}

November 5, 2011

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It had been awhile since our last true Thursday dinner and I was missing them sorely. I sound like a broken record saying how crazy work’s been lately, but it’s the broken record of my life these days. Through illness and a manic pace, there’s been little energy left for anything unnecessary. Sure, eating is necessary, but truly enjoying our meals hasn’t happened much as of late.

I’ve posted a lot of really bad photos in the year this blog’s been around. Really, I’m not that picky. If you can reasonably see what I’m posting, I’ll probably just go with it. For this Thursday dinner, though, while the ambiance at Il Bistro is warm and beautiful, it is also dark. Very dark. So even though the food was lovely, if I posted the photos I attempted to take, you still wouldn’t see it. No flash photography for me in restaurants. It’s just not what I do. I wish it wasn’t what the gaggle of girls at the table behind me did, either, but more on that later. Anyway, the point is, the butter photo above is the only one that survived this very nice meal.

B and I visited Il Bistro for just a bite as part of our Savor Seattle food tour back in February. Tucked underneath the Pike Place Market just at the start of Post Alley, it defies the often touristy feeling of the rest of the Market. I love the Market, but depending on the time of year, the sheer volume of tourists can be a bit much.

We arrived a few minutes early for our reservation, but were still able to sit straight away. This was a bit of a surprise considering we were at the end of Seattle Restaurant Week and Il Bistro was participating. We generally try to avoid Restaurant Week. The 3 for $25 deals bring people out in droves. This is wonderful for Seattle restaurants, especially in the Autumn as the weather’s turned cold and people are starting to hibernate. It’s not so wonderful when you’re trying to get a table somewhere you were already planning to go and find unusual crowds.

Il Bistro is small and dark and that’s exactly the way it should be. It has an intimate quality, old in the classic sense that makes you glad that they’ve survived the test of time amidst the ever changing Seattle food scene. I’d looked forward to a visit for a full dinner for awhile.

The ambiance did not disappoint. Of course, there was the matter of the very large table of hens who cackled loudly and rudely right next to us through the whole meal while taking a series of flash photographs and screeching. B dubbed them the Traveling Pants Diners. I could have done without them for sure. I don’t know what would possess anyone to think Il Bistro is an appropriate place for a party like that, but it says something great about the restaurant that, despite this situation beyond their control, the TPDs did not ruin our dinner.

Classic is actually the perfect way to describe the experience. From the interior to the servers, it just all feels right. Our server, Paris (maybe Parras), was fantastic. He was warm, friendly and offered great suggestions even asking me to trust him with my wine selection (he was spot on). When we left, he introduced himself sincerely (not in the “My names is ____ and I’ll be your server” sense) and told his he was really glad we’d come.

B ended up going with the 3 for $25 Restaurant Week menu since the items he wanted were all on the list anyway. I opted a bit differently. For starters, we had the calamari (sautéed with toasted garlic, basil, Roma tomatoes & Burgundy wine vinegar) and the Antipasto Misto (selection of Italian salumi with smoked Mozzarella & marinated vegetables). The calamari was wonderful. I love fried calamari as much as the next person, but it’s always nice to find some done well without the oil and the batter. The sauce was delicious. Paris (I’m going with this spelling) recommended we dip the bread in the sauce. Great suggestion.

The only portion of the meal that wasn’t great was the bread. It was cold. I don’t mean it was cold as if it just wasn’t heated. It was cold as if it had just come out of the refrigerator. Oh well, it’s a tiny complaint in the grand scheme. The Antipasto Misto was also fantastic, though better for me than B. It was light on the meat, heavy on the veggies.

For entrees, B opted for the pork tenderloin that is sadly not on the website. I don’t remember all the details except that he loved it. I opted for the Filetto di Manzo (roasted beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola , herb roasted root vegetables & Marsala demi-glace). Such an amazing steak. I kept eating beyond what should have been my stopping point. It was just that good and Paris’s wine selection went perfectly.

And, of course, there was dessert. B had the Torta Cioccolato (flourless chocolate-espresso Tort with raspberry coulis & fresh cream) that came with his restaurant week menu while I opted for the classic Affogato. Both were fantastic, though we both agreed sometimes the classic is best. My Affogato was the winner.

I can’t explain how nice it was to just sit and have a real dinner that wasn’t plagued with the stress of getting home to get back to work s too many recent nights have been. It was exactly what I needed. The frantic pace of work and life hasn’t let up one bit since and that makes these breaks all the more valuable and appreciated.

Il Bistro on Urbanspoon

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