Bistro 27 is a contemporary European restaurant that offers good food in a forgettable atmosphere. Conveniently located for theatergoers, Bistro 27 is in downtown Richmond on the corner of Broad and Adams streets. But, if you venture
there on a weekend night, you will be sure to see and hear the hoards of Virginia Commonwealth University students loitering nearby. The bistro boasts a unique dining experience in a room that resembles an old furniture showroom, with 20-foot windows on two walls. The decor is very minimal, and the white walls and lack of artwork give the restaurant a somewhat sterile feeling. The floor-toceiling windows could have used a power washing as well.
The menu is the most noteworthy element of Bistro 27. Its dishes are mainly French- and Italian-inspired and unlike many other contemporary restaurants in the Richmond area. The lunch menu has an extensive selection of appetizers and salads, ranging from $6 to $10 and including dishes such as sashimi grade pink marlin carpaccio, a spring beets salad with goat cheese, fried calamari, and baby shrimp with avocado served over mixed greens. There are 10 different sandwiches and paninis, such as the chicken cordon bleu panini and the tostada vegetarian pita sandwich. The lunch menu also includes well-known favorites, such as the classic reuben, American club and cheeseburger.
The appetizers on the dinner menu vary from $6 to $12, and err toward the more gourmet side of European cooking. These items include jumbo scallops wrapped in smoked bacon and served over red lentils, duck and pork pate served with a baguette, and veal sweet breads served in a mushroom sage sauce. For those of you who aren't familiar with veal sweet breads, these are the often less desirable parts of the calf - such as the stomach, pancreas or brain. Entrees range from $13 to $22 and feature a homemade beef and fontina cheese ravioli, pan-seared fresh flounder, and boeuf a minute. I opted for the pan-roasted quail stuffed with sun-dried figs and Italian sausage with a brown butter and sage sauce. The bird was juicy and the stuffing had an interesting balance of sweet and savory flavor. The side of garlic mashed potatoes was a tasty addition to the plate as well, but the dish did not blow me away.
The most memorable part of my meal was dessert. I ordered one that is common in many Italian restaurants but was taken to an elevated, artistic, and delectable level at Bistro 27. My plate was a small, hardened milk-chocolate cup filled with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, surrounded by a thick layer of Italian zabaglione cream. The cream was decorated with perfect zigzags of caramel and raspberry syrup, and dusted with powdered sugar. It was the perfect way to end a meal. Other desserts include a chocolate tart and creme brulee.
To complement your meal, Bistro 27 has the "27 List" of 27 wines for $27 or less. The list includes reds, whites and sparkling wine with many world-class award winners and other lesser-known brands.
The service at Bistro 27 was satisfactory - our waiter was happy to return a piece of undercooked meat to the kitchen, but seemed to forget about us once it was time to bring the check. The atmosphere is very bland considering they boast a unique European menu. The menu is definitely creative at Bistro 27 and the food is good, but not amazing. But all the dishes have excellent presentation and are served in a timely manner. A good time to give Bistro 27 a try would be on a
Friday or Saturday between 5 and 6:30 p.m. Their "Early Start Menu" is a three-course meal for just $20. Otherwise, the European cuisine of Bistro 27 is available for lunch and dinner five days a week, and dinner on Saturday nights as well.
Contact reporter Brigid Beitel at email@example.com
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