Beyond Fine Cuisine

October 6, 2016 | Seen Magazine

We decided to visit Bistro 82 in Royal Oak with a couple of friends for dinner on a Sunday evening. Th e sophisticated decor was completed in a grey, black and white color palette with a contemporary wall painting by artist Sam Friedman of Brooklyn, New York, projecting rich color into the space. Several French glass doors opened to the street, lending a light, airy feeling to the room. Our server handed us an iPad with the extensive menu and bar off erings. Th e tablet presentation off ered helpful photos of the items to view before ordering. Our appetizer courses included the French onion soup, which consisted of dumplings made with cheddar, caramelized onion and Poet Oatmeal stout. If you are expecting a bowl of French onion soup, forget it; this dish is served with the dumplings portioned into separate pockets in the dish, then covered with cheese and baked. It was an unexpected and delicious appetizer that was easy to share with others at the table. Next we savored a specially prepared orange caulifl ower dish made with sesame, ginger, orange marmalade, mirepoix and cashews. I’ve never met a caulifl ower I liked, but the fl avor and seasonings of this dish made me a convert. Th e jumbo shrimp cocktail that followed tasted as though the shrimp were just harvested from a casting net. Salad and soup courses included lobster bisque and watermelon salad with compressed watermelon, whipped feta, toasted pistachios, white balsamic and cucumber herb sorbet. Another guest shared her arugula salad with pear, Parmesan cheese and walnuts dressed with roasted garlic vinaigrette; both salads were “must haves.” I ordered the steak frites, a perfectly prepared 10-ounce reserve New York strip with pommes frites, béarnaise sauce and maître butter. You don’t need to visit a steak house to taste tender meat with the perfect sauce accompaniment because this was as good or better than I’ve eaten in such establishments. One guest ordered the 8-once filet mignon aupiovre steak selection served with truffl e potato espuma, mushroom duxelles and broccolini. The truffle potato espuma accompaniment was a rare experience of the “foams” or thermal whips that have become a part of the molecular gastronomy technique. It added fl avor without changing the substance and defi ed description. Th e seafood cioppino included scallops, king crab, mussels, clams and shrimp in a saff ron shellfi sh broth with a touch of cumin. The freshness of the ingredients combined with the saff ron broth was simply brilliant. We finalized the evening with a selection of desserts, including blueberry cheesecake, baked apple crisp, chocolate raspberry moose and cinnamon sugar beignets. One was better than the other. Owner Aaron Belen, Cranbrook alum, opened Bistro 82 and assembled a top-notch professional team to introduce his French restaurant to RoyalOak. Th e front of the Bistro is under the direction of GM Matthew Hollander, a rising star on the dinning scene and Level 1 certifi ed sommelier. Executive Chef Derik Watson, who is well known for turning out some of the best cuisine in Michigan, is taking Bistro 82 to a culinary perspective that’s beyond what’s happening on Main Street. His forward thinking and current knowledge of the food scene will ensure Bistro 82 remains a leader in fine dining establishments. At the end of the evening one of my guests remarked, “Th is was the best food I’ve eaten all year.” NS

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