We recently had a chance to visit Bistro 185, another restaurant we’ve been meaning to try out for quite some time. Bistro 185 is located on Cleveland’s East side (I’d consider it Euclid, but the Postal Service calls pretty much everything Cleveland), and it’s right next to a ramp from I-90, so it’s easily accessible.
Located in a quaint old bar-turned-bistro, it was a welcome relief to walk inside and get away from the snow and wind that had been in the area all day. We arrived shortly before 6, and got a cozy little booth to ourselves. We were one of a few groups inside – by the time we left at 7:15, the place was pretty well packed, so I’d recommend reservations. Even with all the people, noise was not a problem, which is always a welcome relief – with all the shouting I do during a normal day, I like to not have to shout over dinner as well.
The menu would likely be classified as new American, is fairly extensive, and changes frequently, depending on chef’s whim and what’s fresh and available at the time. They also do a good job of sourcing locally and sustainably.
We started with the house-smoked duck breast, which was served over potato pancakes, with sour cream, sun-dried cranberries, and a raspberry chipotle sauce. The duck was nice and tender; as a result of the smoking, it tasted very much like a honey-baked ham. The pancakes had a nice outer crunch, but were not too greasy. The kitchen was a little skimpy on the chipotle sauce, and we’d certainly have liked more, but what we did have was very pleasant atop the smokiness of the duck.
As usual, S had a hard time deciding on an entrée, but selected a doozy: a long-bone double cut pork chop, wrapped in bacon, stuffed with prosciutto, applewood smoked provolone, granny smith apple, topped with apple schnapps sauce, and served alongside sweet potato mash, and sauté of root vegetables. Sounds large, and it was. The root vegetables, a mix of parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, and some winter squash, didn’t even come on the same plate. In spite of the size of the cut, the meat was surprisingly moist all the way through, and not at all chewy. Not to mention the pleasant surprise of the prosciutto, cheese, and apples in the center. This was a prototypical winter’s night meal.
In fairness to S, I also had a hard time choosing, but eventually went with a sautéed wild-caught Canadian walleye, plated with Yukon gold potato, wild mushroom and bacon lardon hash and sauté of green vegetables, all smothered under a lemon Hollandaise sauce. The fish was very flaky and moist – there were a few small bones, but nothing out of the ordinary (the biggest negative with certain fish is that it’s next to impossible to de-bone them completely, since the bones are so fine and hard to see). Can’t go wrong with potatoes, mushrooms, and bacon, and the green vegetables consisted of Brussels sprouts, chard, spinach, asparagus, and snap peas. Quite an assortment, and quite good.
They didn’t have anything too fancy for dessert, but we enjoyed a flourless cake made with almond paste, with chocolate and raspberry cream. Nice moist crumb, and not overly dense.
Final verdict: Bistro 185 gets 6 out of 7 stars. Service was classy, prices were average ($15-30; most in the $18-25 range), and the food was outstanding. One thing we liked were the portion sizes – they were a bit bigger than we typically get, so it felt like a better value. You can’t turn down having a great meal, then having more of that meal the next day for lunch!