Park Bistro, July 21, 2005

I've since revisited Park Bistro (this time ordering the wild mushroom ravioli and an order of mussels - both appetizer size.

I've been seriously craving their mussels since the last time I had them.

So, after tucking Danna into bed (she was sick with the flu) and I, hungry after a day of work and night class at the Institute of Culinary Education (where my "visual walkthrough" presentation of my concept was well-received), I headed over to my newest "standby".

I sat at the bar and decided to go for a Kronenberg, a French beer, simply because it piqued my interest. Not an especially well-crafted beer by any means, but it did go very well with my dishes and one I will probably return to when I go back by myself, if Danna is out of town.Also in the dining room this evening was my friend Matthew Cortellesi who was, as is his nature, entertaining a group of five other guys...coworkers? Most likely.

The lovely, tall, red-headed girl (bartender doesn't sound right - she's more like a captain) served me my beer and brought me out some bread, that I have to admit was dry. Perhaps solo male diners at the bar get older bread without butter.

No worries. I later asked for some fresh bread, which I received in time to enjoy my mussels.But first I had the wild mushroom ravioli. One of my favorite dishes at L'Express was there version of the fungi favorite.

The two were quite different. These having a slightly more subtle taste and nary a hint of the truffle oil they advertise. The L'Express version (of years ago, I can't currently attest to their current offering) had more of a powerful taste. Perhaps it was the fresh ground pepper they offered or the extra cheese they topped it with. I am certain that the Park Bistro version is "technically" better, but if I had to choose between the two for taste...I might have to lean in the direction of my old favorite.

The mussels came out and they were a nice mix of big, large and average sized. All very flavorful and most were easily accessible, although I did find myself slightly covered in broth before the night was over by a stubborn bi-valve. Bastard.

The broth, however, had me confused. It was noticeably saltier this time, but why did it taste lemony and not lime-like? Am I getting the summer flu from Danna and losing my taste? No. The red onion and tomato made me realize that I got the "traditional" version of the dish instead of the drug I'd been craving. No matter. The dish was still good, but not the gem that is coconut-lime flavored.

The service, again, was wonderful. The hostess, a twenty something with remarkably curly hair was very nice and cheerful, and not afraid to share her opinion of guests' ordering choices. I quickly learned that I made good choices and the woman to my left, who also ordered the mushroom ravioli, had found that she ordered the hostess' favorite dish. It was all in kind and sort of made it feel more like the neighborhood restaurant that I think it strives to be, but something you wouldn't expect to see at Artisanal, for example.

I got to meet Richard, the Chef and owner, who was very hospitable. I caught him again outside after I'd paid up (beer, ravioli, mussels = $27, tax incl.) and asked him if the mussels were different. I explained my preference for the other kind after he apologized that the sous chef may have served the incorrect kind. He offered to correct the order upon my next offer I'd be a fool not to accept, as the coconut lime version really is all that.

Despite some flaws this time around, I am still a big fan. The crowd was very representative of how I see myself and what I like to be surrounded by, the food was still solid and the hospitality is warm and true. A real gem in the city.


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