Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Feb. 11
Cafe Bleu has moved to Mission Hills, to a location just a hop, skip, and a jump away from it's old spot on University Avenue. Now on Washington Street over by the Red Door (it's becoming quite the colorful neighborhood), Bleu Bistro and Wine Lounge (it's full name) is more of a neighborhood joint, with weekly prix fixe menu deals. I stopped in on a Sunday night and ordered off the prix fixe menu. Here's a visual taste of what I sampled:
Ah, that's David, sipping water -- of course we had wine, but we started off with some hydration.
The amuse bouche, drowning in some kind of aioli, wasn't to my taste, but then again, I don't like whipped-egg products (mayonnaise especially included). I was so distracted by the sauce that I can't even remember what was under it.
The French Onion soup was a highlight, all the flavors were spot-on, the onions were expertly caramelized, the broth wasn't over-salted and just the right amount of savory -- it's a pity it was only lukewarm.
This was David's app was the chef's canapes. Of the three, he preferred the one with ahi.
I ordered the vegetarian entree, which looked much better in the dark. Though visually it's a mucky pile of something I would avoid looking at if I were to pass it on the street, it was actually quite tasty. Beets, creamy mushroom polenta, grilled asparagus, the only thing I allowed David to eat was the celery, and that only because I don't care for celery. Again, this dish was only lukewarm. Quite the bummer, because a bit hotter, and it would have been straight-up awesome.
David really liked his steak frites, and that's all I really have to say about that one, because I was too engrossed in my own -- oh wait, I forgot I did try those frites, and they were excellent when dipped in my pile o' sauce and other stuff.
Ah, dessert. David got something ice-creamy, I think it was a bread pudding of sorts. He seemed to like it, even though it arrived with most of the ice cream already melted. After I got over the strange bread-to-cheese ratio with my slice of Manchego cheese plate, I did enjoy the dried fruits that accompanied the bite of cheese, and the toastettes had a nice salty crunch to them, which complimented the honey and fruit.
First impression? The service was friendly and informed, the ambiance is okay, the food was good, but could have been better (and hotter), and the wine pairings were great. It wasn't a French restaurant, so much as French-ish. But for a neighborhood joint, it was comfortable and easy to get to, and I may check it out again and see if I was just there on an off night in terms of food prep. Try it out for yourself and let me know what you find out.
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