It’s been quite some time since my last visit to Bistango, so when I was invited with a group of food writers, to check out the newly renovated restaurant, along with the appointment of a new chef, I was eager to find out more. The restaurant’s interior was long overdue for an update, and now, possesses contemporary and stylish colors throughout. My favorite area — the patio — is still there, offering a casual atmosphere for drinks with my girlfriends.
Christopher Meehan is the new chef on board, but don’t call him “new” because he’s anything but a newb. Born into the restaurant industry — his father owned 16 restaurants in Georgia, North and South Carolina — he began his career at the age of 14, surprisingly, not at one of his father’s establishments. A graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales University’s culinary program, Chef Meehan — like myself — spent some time in Hawaii and his menu at Bistango reflects the ingredients and flavors of the Pacific Rim.
Our meal began with Kumamoto Oysters, which of course I wasn’t able to eat. Judging from my table mates expressions, the oysters served two ways: breaded with charred scallion aioli; raw shooter with chipotle mignonette was highly agreeable. My plate was snatched up rather quickly by my neighbor and devoured.
Second course comprised Hamachi Sashimi, sushi grade Japanese amberjack with cucumber salad, sesame frisee seaweed, yuzu soy and green tea infused wasabi. The yuzu soy possessed a salty tang, while the wasabi was subtly fragrant from the green tea.
Stilton Lacquered Pear was one of the most beautiful presentations I’d ever seen. The Serrano jamon is salty, add to that the sweet pear, tart hints of aged balsamic vinegar, this is a perfect pairing of flavor components which marry perfectly together.
Our next course was not the prettiest of plates, however, Braised Black Cod was definitely tasty. The fish is flaky with served with a thyme dijon cream, black garlic, leek, Belgian endive, shiitake mushrooms and sauteed asparagus.
One of my favorites was Grilled Texas Quail. An entire quail was served in a mini skillet atop a sweet potato kale succotash drizzled with maple chile gastrique. The quail was succulent and tender. While I was concerned about the accoutrements being over sweet — maple AND sweet potato — it lent a hint but was never overpowering.
By the time Dry Rubbed NZ Venison arrived, I was already too full. I ate only a bite. The gnocchi was incredibly textured. I loved the everything about this dish and its accompaniments of sun-dried tomato, leek, cremini, arugula, pine nut medley, all brought together with a red wine reduction. Red meat lovers, this one is for you!
Agave Marinated Blood Orange with lemon sorbet was a lovely palate cleanser — refreshing and light after a massive meal. However, there was yet one more dish to arrive.
Our dessert of Chocolate Decadence was indeed chocolatey, and decadent. A moist cake is served with a piece of hazelnut brittle, house made vanilla ice cream and a ramekin of strawberry consomme. Not quite sure if there is a certain way we’re supposed to eat this, I take a piece of cake, scoop some strawberry consomme and eat them together. Surprisingly complementary if I do say so myself.
19100 Von Karman
Irvine, CA 92612