Monday, May 23, 2011

Cafe Bistro - Nordstrom

For people that don't enjoy dealing with parking at Kenwood, we have managed to find our way to Cafe Bistro at Nordstrom three times now.

We learned of this gem from my grandmother.  She goes to Nordstrom and has lunch at the bistro quite often.  One day she brought home a menu and we jumped on it.  Our expectations were low because (a) the restaurant is in a store and (b) my grandmother doesn't care much about food.  We were pleasantly surpised with many fresh sounding entree salads, interesting pizzas, fancy sandwiches, and decent dinner options.  For the record, my grandmother likes the chicken club sandwich.  She had also brought back some of the kalamata olive french fry dip.  After trying it, we knew we would find a reason to go to Kenwood.  The deep olive taste is subdued with some mayonnaise and it's really wonderful with thin crispy fries.

French Fries

On our first trip, I had the cilantro shrimp salad and Kelly had the flat iron steak sandwich.  On our second trip, Kelly had the same thing and I had the salmon dinner entree.  The salmon was phenomenal.  It was cooked perfectly to my taste and the outside was crisp and creamy from the butter it had been seared in.  The piece of fish was huge and the mango salsa on top was great in that it didn't take away from the flavor of the salmon but also added sweetness to the dish.  The salmon was laid on roasted potatoes.  Nothing special there but they were good.

Cilantro Shrimp Salad
On our most recent trip, I went back to the cilantro shrimp salad.  I can't remember all of the ingredients but it has a mexican flair.  It includes corn, tortilla strips, cilantro lime vinaigrette, roasted peppers, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.  The shrimp are large and the tails are taken off (yay!).  The salad even has a kick to it - not sure what it is exactly but you get a little spice.  The portion is plenty big for an entree and I finished with enough room for a side of fries and kalamata olive dip.  It's a great salad - no complaints whatsoever.
Kelly tried the arugula, fig, and prosciutto flat bread pizza.  As you can see from the picture, it's impressive looking.  The pizza is cooked and the arugula is placed on top afterwards.  There are so many flavors going on.  You get sweet first, with the fig and caramelized onions, then a little spice from the arugula, and at the very end the salty prosciutto comes through.  It's complex and isn't for someone that just wants a pizza.  Go for the margherita if that's you. 

Flatbread Pizza

After our meal, we decided to splurge on triple berry shortcake.  It is made with a very large biscuit sprinkled with sugar before being baked.  The biscuit itself is very buttery with just a hint of sweet.  It's cooked perfectly - brown on the outside and a little soft in the middle.  It was heavy but with only whipped cream and fresh berries, it didn't stuff us too much.  It was also served with a berry sauce and powdered sugar.  Delicious! I would go back just for the shortcake.  I can't stop thinking about it really.

Triple Berry Shortcake
At cafe bistro you order/pay up front and a server brings your drinks and food.  It's a bit overwhelming to have to order so quickly, but the employees are used to it and they don't rush you.  Also be prepared to spend the same amount of money you would at a decent restaurant.  Meals run over $11 for sure.  We spend $45 on one glass of wine, a diet coke, side of fries, flabread pizza, cilantro salad, and shortcake.  It's difficult to drop that money at what feels like a fast food place as you order.  It's worth every penny though - the ingredients are fresh and the dishes are interesting.  The atmosphere is quiet and we have never had to wait for a table.  

One disadvantage is its hours. Since it is inside the mall, it closes early - 8 pm on Friday night.  Keep that in mind.  Another disadvantage is the confusing tipping situation.  Do you tip? If so, do you tip the regular amount?  When you pay upfront, you aren't offered a space to tip.  Since you don't pay at the end, you obviously don't have the opportunity there either.  You are left hoping you have some cash to place on the table.  That being said, we aren't sure how much to leave at the table anyway.  The first two times we left just a few dollars because we didn't know - it seems like the server should get something because they do everything but take the order.  This past weekend we ordered the shortcake after we sat down, so we were given a check to pay for that at the table.  The credit card receipt came back with a place to tip.   SO confusing.  This time we left 20% like normal.  Not sure if we were expected to though.  Please tell us if you know tipping protocol here. 

Overall, we can't get enough of this place.  It is a delicious, consistent, and low stress option for lunch and dinner.  More importantly, it helps get my mind right about going to the mall -  I tend to get overwhelmed with throngs of people wandering aimlessly in a closed space.  I really need a good meal involved to get me there and cafe bistro does it for me.

Cafe Bistro at Nordstrom on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Terry said...

Glad to hear you enjoy the menu. As a GM for Nordstrom Bistro for 6 years I can tell you that the servers do work for tips. It is a bit confusing with the pay first system but the servers do have access to a register in the back of the restaurant and you can always ask any manager server or cashier for change or you can add credit card tip at the register as you leave or when you arrive if you wish. Your server will get it.