Bistrot de Venise is a large place made up of a number of small rooms. It offers a huge menu featuring Historic and Modern Classic Venetian cuisine including several tasting selections. It must be a common tourist destination as the brochure on the table offered a number of the items from the place for sale. However the food is amazing and the number of people in attendance showed that, that was known. The room where we were was colored with red and gold, with decorative gold fish candleholders on each table to supplement the already well lit room. The red velour walls were accented with strips of antiqued gold where recessed lighting was. Red bench seats matched red chairs on the other side of the table. The walls were decorated with drawings, paintings and photos. Tables are closely set and some of the 2-tops were pretty small but all were covered in nice linen cloths embossed with a leaf design and matching napkins. It was a casual crowd in a fairly elegant setting. Waiters spoke good English and were helpful, friendly and willing to direct your meal plan. Classical music played in the background and they were happy to split dishes or have us split them at the table, even bringing extra plates.
An amuse bouche was a cream of pumpkin with caramelized almonds and gorgonzola cheese. The pumpkin had a lovely strong flavor and the almonds added a sweet crunch. The gorgonzola added a twist and was equally tasty. It was a fun start and I could have eaten a large bowl.
Bread was an assortment of sticks, foccaccia, rolls. The foccaccia was nicely salted and herbed. Alongside was a bowl of fruity, good olive oil.
Soft Crabs were fried soft crabs with baby artichoke salad which they called a specialty of venetian cuisine. The four little soft shell crabs were on a bed of artichoke salad studded with really tart bits of peeled lime. They were not greasy or fried tasting but did had a good crunch and the salad was nice too. It was good.
The scallops were recommended by the waiter as a unique preparation. They were sautéed scallops with pumpkin cream, violet coleslaw and dark chocolate sauce. The three good sized scallops were lightly cooked to a perfect softness and placed on a bed of cooked purple cabbage on the pumpkin purée and all drizzled with a chocolate sauce. The pumpkin highlighted the scallops nicely to yield a savory and fun plate of food. It was delicious.
“Carbonara” with Scampi was “carbonara” spaghetti with scampi and its broth, crispy bacon and black pepper. We split one order. The pasta was cooked perfectly. It was a good savory sauce on barely cooked shrimp with crisp bits of bacon and flavors of butter and egg yolk. It was outstanding. The sauce was so good you wanted to wipe up every bit of it. Yum here. It was another good suggestion by the waiter.
Duck breast was from a recipe from Bartolomeo Scappi, a 16th century chef. It was a duck breast in “sauce Peverada” with apple and red onion. We split an order of it. It was cooked a nice rare and plated with sweet and sour apple chutney and a slice of dried apple. The breast was coated with honey while cooking and the fat was well rendered. The apple bits were really flavorful and the one slice added a touch of crispness to the plate. Other parts added a sweetness to the really good dish.
For dessert we split a Cremoso al cioccolato al latter of Milk chocolate cream with Dulley chocolate ganache, orange compote and mango sorbet. Crisp, thick pieces of chocolate were plated with chocolate mousse, puffed rice and wonderful mango sorbet. The rich dark chocolate was a good contrast with the sweetness of the mango and creamy milk chocolate gananche. Some pieces of raw orange were in the mix and mild in flavor but all in all it was a good, not great, sweet fix.
In honor of carnival season a few last treats were of the traditional fritelle.