Beyond Words

I need a new thesaurus to describe dinner at Bistro 218.

By Jan Walsh

If you look up “delicious” in a thesaurus, there are hundreds of synonyms. And you can check off each-and-every one of them to describe dinner at Bistro 218. It has always been so. I have reviewed this restaurant many times over the years, since Tom Saab opened his dream. Each bite of every night has been praiseworthy. And tonight, he continues to wow me!

Kev, Jordan, and I enter The Bar at Bistro 218 and are led to our favorite window table in the dining room. Here a single red rose adorns the table… The beauty is in the details. And Saab is a master of the fine points. General Manager, Matt Dunn always makes us feel at home with signature libations. Tonight, we start with Vessel 218, Smokey Old Fashion, and Spicy Pineapple Margarita. Kev’s cocktail is a frothy delight of Benchmark Bourbon, orange and angostura bitters, nutmeg, and house made maple, egg white foam. Jordan’s outstanding old fashioned is made of muddled orange, angostura bitters, liquid smoke, simple, and garnished with pork belly. And my margarita is a marvelous mix of tequila, pineapple infused with jalapeno, and Grand Mariner, garnished with infused pineapple. As we sip our drinks as Tom stops by for a table visit in his full house tonight. . 

As appetizers, we share House Cured Pork Belly, Fritto Misto, and Murder Point Oysters. The thick, meaty pork arrives atop a bed of McEwen’s Yellow Corn Grits and gastrique, crowned with a fried farm egg. On first cut the yolk drizzles onto the slices of the tender pork and into the creamy grits and sweet and sour gastrique, synthesizing layers of tantalizing textures and flavors. With each slurp of the rich, creamy, and incredible raw Alabama oysters, a tale of their freshness is told. They are presented with a bed of ice and Saab’s cocktail sauce. The golden, crisp and fabulous Fritto Misto is an intermingling of Alabama oysters, Gulf shrimp, and calamari with a house remoulade, perfect for sharing.

For entrees, Jordan opts for the Blackened Louisiana Redfish. Kev never misses one of Tom’s steaks and selects the Tournedos au Poivre. And the Butter Basted Sea Scallops catch me, again and again. My guys pair their main dishes with cold brews, and I get my (choice of two) Sancerre. Nice work, wine director, Carlos Cisneros. The redfish is a beauty, mild and firm, making a great choice for Saab’s magical blackening. It floats on a bed of McEwen’s Yellow Corn Grits and is finished with greens of haricot verts and fried okra. Kev’s tender, juicy, pan seared tenderloin medallions are finished with a beautiful brandy cream, which imparts a deep rich complexity that compliments the beef without overpowering it. The filets are served with a gorgeous and comforting potato gratin and a delightful mix of fresh heirloom veggies. And my buttery, delicate, milky scallops are melt-in-my-mouth scrumptious as always. But I promise, I will order something else next time, Tom.

Kev and Jordan order a dessert of Dark Chocolate Bete Noire to share. I have my own Chilton County Peach Galette, which Matt generously pairs with a dessert cocktail, The Quatre. The deep dark wedge of silky chocolate is flanked with joyful smears of espresso and raspberry sauces and is finished with fresh raspberry garnish. In my peach galette, French almond frangipane pastry and Southern fruit are pleated together. Alabama peaches burst forth with each cut of the golden, crust. And the house made ice cream provides a creamy, cold meets hot, finishing touch. The only thing that could make this dessert better is my luscious libation of Five Farms Irish Cream, Kahlua, Frangelica, and Banana Schnapps, a perfection in pairing.

Each-and-every dish and drink are highly recommended! Enough said.

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