Good New American fare and small plates in this equally small spot. ... More »
Bistro 44 Restaurant & Bar reopens with new management and an old-fashioned theme.
Suiting its dimensions, Bistro 44 now features some savory tapas plates to go with the traditional menu of huskier stuff. And chef Emanuel Karropoulos refreshes the place.
A bit wider than a storefront and long enough for a bowling alley, the New American eatery gets snug in a hurry, especially in the booths. But those small plates don't add much girth.
The bar stays popular, and the subdued lighting keeps the look sedate. Expect alfresco dining soon.
Tapas usually are available only at the bar, but insist. The squares of fried manchego cheese are very good, as are the slices of zesty chorizo sausage and the combo of ham and pimientos.
The tasty beet-and-arugula salad with nuggets of Stilton cheese heads the lighter appetizers. And the spinach salad nearly rivals it. Soba noodles and shrimp boost the Thai-style salad.
Cashew-crusted oysters, crunchy and sweet, are accented with rice wine. The shrimp cocktail is straightforward and good. An opener of tender, Korean barbecued beef short ribs finds a foil with pickled daikon. A hoisin glaze sparks the generous, moist slab of Alaskan wild salmon. A brown sugar-and-ancho chile rub does the same for the rib-eye steak.
For dessert, there's a whimsical construct dubbed "coffee and cigar," or an ashtray of tres leches-and-espresso custard, upon which rests a chocolate ganache cigar, complete with equally sweet ashes. The blood-orange spin on a soft Creamsicle is almost as much fun.
The tomato-and-ricotta tart "Tatin" needs more than red-onion confit to liven it up. Pan-fried mozzarella: limp. Grilled, head-on prawns are overcooked, wasting the delectable rounds of preserved Meyer lemon that accompany them. Pork loin also materializes overdone. Skippable desserts include the bland, dry apple tart; and the rock-hard, hazelnut-chocolate production inexplicably dubbed a charlotte. All you can say is, hush-hush sweet.
THE BOTTOM LINE