Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bite Bistro: Take Two (Bellevue)

UPDATE (8/19/2012): Bite Bistro has closed its Bellevue location. As of this update, the owners are in the process of scouting a new location.

Last Saturday morning, I was munching on some waffles and reading my Twitter feed when I casually mentioned to R. about "Sangria Saturday" at this great new restaurant, Bite Bistro, where you can get complimentary sangria from noon to 4 pm on Saturdays with your meal.  (It's free because they can't sell it to you - Bellevue is dry.  But, you can BYOB.)  R. was intrigued, and suggested that we have a late lunch there.  I was more than happy to oblige.  I had paid Bite Bistro my first visit less than a month ago and fell in love with it (see my previous blog post here).  Given my penchant for trying new places, it is very rare that I visit the same restaurant twice in such a short span, but Bite Bistro was a place I was actually very excited to go back to try out some of the other items on their menu.

We arrived at 3:30 pm - just in time to still take advantage of Sangria Saturday.  And I'm so glad we did!  I had a not-so-great sangria experience just a week prior and Bite Bistro's sangria more than made up for it.

Sangria at Bite Bistro
Complimentary Sangria

It wasn't easy to decide what to order, as so many items looked delicious.  Bite Bistro doesn't have a standard (or a printed) menu; their offerings are scrawled on a chalk board and change depending on what's available.  This adds an element of constant novelty, I think, and also makes you want to try everything they do have because you might not be able to get it next time.

I eventually decided to start with soup.  I love soup (and couldn't care less that it's not a "summer thing").  Given my previous positive soup experience at Bite Bistro, I knew I could trust their soup du jour, the Rustic Almond Soup, and the nutty concoction certainly did not disappoint.  

Rustic Almond Bisque at Bite Bistro
Rustic Almond Bisque ($4)

R. decided to start with the Grains, which on the surface does not sound at all appetizing, but wait 'til you have tried Bite Bistro's version.  The grains are served with a tomato cardamom sauce and topped with crispy onions.  The aromatic cardamom is what gives this dish its character, its strong, tangy flavor allowing the otherwise boring grains to shine.

Grains at Bite Bistro
Grains ($3)

R. also got the Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich, with alfalfa sprouts and duxelle which is a mushroom puree.  I didn't know what "duxelle" was before, so I got to learn something new.  I had a couple bites of this and liked it a lot.

Roasted Pepper Sandwich at Bite Bistro
Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich ($6)

For me, I got the Bread Pudding with truffles and corn, served with asparagus.  Danina, our server who also runs the restaurant, mentioned this being one of her favorites, and it quickly became one of mine as well.  The truffles is the star here, in my opinion, emanating a rich and savory flavor that makes eating this vegetarian dish not feel like eating vegetarian.  Not that I have anything against vegetarian food at all.  I do love me some tofu.  And truffles, apparently.

Bread Pudding at Bite Bistro
Bread Pudding ($11, and worth every penny)

Finally, we managed to save room for dessert.  R. and I shared the chocolate Pot de Creme, a very rich and thick chocolate custard with spicy caramel and grey salt sprinkled on top.  It was very delicious, but don't let the small size of the ramekin fool you - it is very filling.  For me, it was a wise choice, after already eating two courses, to split this with R.

Pot de Creme at Bite Bistro
Pot de Creme ($5)

One thing to note is that Bite Bistro offers a good vegetarian and vegan selection, clearly marked on their menu as (V) for vegetarian and (VE) for vegan.  I am not a vegetarian or a vegan myself, but I appreciate their efforts to be inclusive and accommodating.  By accident, we had ordered an almost exclusively vegetarian meal, and enjoyed every last bite of it.  Surprisingly enough, the Pot de Creme is not vegetarian due to the use of fish sauce in the caramel, but Danina is very good about making sure guests know that before ordering.

Once again, Bite Bistro exceeded my expectations.  I love this place and I love their food.  I will be back - maybe not within the month, but I will be back, for sure.

UPDATE 1/22/2012: Read about my third visit to Bite Bistro here.

Restaurant info:
Bite Bistro
565 Lincoln Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15202

On the web:
On Facebook:
On Twitter:
Bonus: BYOB 

Also check out China Millman's review in the Post-Gazette.