Monday, November 24, 2008

Restaurant Review: aka Bistro!

We had the privilege of sharing dinner with my friend Eric and his girlfriend Mandy from Arkansas recently. We initially tried to get into Cook in downtown St. Helena, but they were all booked so we headed down the street to aka Bistro.I was feeling a little bit connected to Italy still from my World's of Flavor experience up at school so I went for the Ragu Penna Pasta. I am not for sure, but the penna reminded me of the Barilla penna that Barilla Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni made for his demo and this one didn't quite compare. The pork ragu sauce was good, but the overall impression of the plate didn't leave me wanting to sop up the left over juice with my baguette.
Another pasta dish was the mushroom trenette. I enjoyed this dish more so than the Penne Ragu. The shitake and portabello mushrooms were cooked to perfection and the sauce had a great flavor. More Pecorino please.
Sadly, the Salmon was the least impressive on the menu. Most portions are set right around 4-5 oz's. Five if you get lucky, but we got the tail end cut that was closer to 3.5oz. Even the side garnishes of sauteed potatoes and baby pearl onions where a little too minimal for my appetite. C'mon, I am paying $18, give me a little bit of love. With all this said, the sauce was light and extremely creamy and balanced the fish beautifully.

The big winner of the day was the Cornish Game hen with fried potatoes and sauteed spinach with a Cabernet jus. I think the dish was standing a little too tall though and the plate wasn't big enough for all the madness needed to break down the game hen. But, the flavor was incredible and the hen was incredibly juicy and succulent. Keep this dish on the menu!

You can't go home with out a little bite of dessert. Here is the chocolate fudge torte with peanut butter ice cream topped with peanut brittle. We added a nice 20 year old Tawny Port to compliment our sweet tooth. Overall, I think that one trip to aka Bistro doesn't do justice to its eclectic bistro style menu so I am going to have to give it another try. But their are several restaurants on the St. Helena strop that are yet to be discovered, so look for an upcoming review of Cook coming soon.

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