By GREGORY A. WHITE
Like a curious cat smelling unknown food, I approached BL Bistro restaurant at 2203 S. Austin St. I arrived at 5:35 p.m. on a Tuesday.
The one-story bistro lies nestled across from Herring Bank near the Wolflin Village shopping center. Its doors face distant Georgia Street.
I chose this eatery because I’d driven by it dozens of times, because some family members raved about it. I wanted to see what the fuss was all about.
“Do you have a reservation,” a blonde woman greeter asked me after I entered and stood before her lecturn. She wore a black dress, black hose and black mid-heel shoes. Wearing blue jeans, a gray Ralph Lauren Polo shirt and retro blue Converse All-Star
basketball shoes, I replied, “I do not.”
She turned on her heel and led me to a corner, isolated, two-seat table flush against a wall and sandwiched between two wine racks, with a third rack hovering 18 inches above the redwood table. I climbed into my chair like it was the cockpit of a fighter jet.
The dimly lit restaurant had dark carpet with red paneled walls, which looked like mahogany. From my corner perch, the dining area I peered at had tables with either four or six chairs.
I noticed later a groove in front of me. I saw above me a large wire door that could be pulled down to cut off this 5-foot-wide by 4-foot recessed section from the rest of the dining area.
Frustrated soon after my seating, I began the adventure of decoding the menu. It was written in language seemingly designed to make clear the restaurant’s high-brow nature.
The prices initially vexed me. Formatted with no dollar sign, readers were forced to assume digits were the price.
A server, dressed in black pants and black T-shirt, with black shoes, approached me. He filled a water glass and took my drink order at 5:50 p.m.
The server then removed the two-page wine and beverage lists, which were encased in a black folder.
I asked him about the menu’s layout, if the prices lay next to the menu items just so: Kobe Beef Slider…9. He said they did. I asked the nature of Kobe Beef. The server said it was more upgraded beef. The server shortly thereafter brought my iced tea with a din of sugar substitutes.
He presented a document listing the daily specials: coconut shrimp, seared halibut, lobster and seared tuna.
I read some of the menu’s entrees, which included pan-roasted duck, asparagus quesadilla and prosciutto scallops and shrimp.
The server came back after awhile. I ordered the Kobe Slider with Bistro Fries – french fries, I soon learned.
Going to the bathroom to wash my hands, I noticed a bar and other dining areas. The clean bathroom had paneled walls like the dining areas.
My dinner order arrived on a 12-inch white plate. No mustard or mayonnaise lay on my little burgers. Curled, onion-flavored rings topped the beef below the top bun.
My burgers tasted good, though small. I thought they would be better if bigger. The chef had cooked the Kobe either medium well or well done. It was tasty and cooked throughout, yet the eater couldn’t tell the Kobe’s condition. The fries were good, too.
While I ate, I was entertained by two of the kitchen staff , I presumed. The unseen pair was cracking jokes and exchanging lines from the 1975 cult movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I knew the dialogue. It featured the swordplay scene between the Black Knight and another knight.
Enclosed in a black folder, like the beverage list, my server placed the bill upright on the table. After getting change and leaving a tip, I got up from my chair and walked out of BL Bistro at 6:31 p.m.
The food was good, the place was elegant and the staff was polite, if not friendly.
It appeared to be an upscale restaurant and dining experience designed for well-dressed groups of four or more celebrating a special occasion or having a nice night out.
Solo sneaker and jean-wearing eaters were tolerated, however.