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Bistro 157 menu delights with every dish

Menu prices

Appetizers start at $6.75 for the chilled tea smoked duck breast spring roll and rises to $9 for crispy fried calamari and house pickles up to $15 for the pan-seared Hudson Valley “caramel apple” foie gras. Our two oysters Rockefeller cost $4.75 and four Blue Point oysters on the half shell were $8. Our mushroom ravioli was $9.50. French, Greek and Asian-inspired salads range from $5.50 to $9.50. Pasta and entrees dishes start at $13 for the Fra Diavala angel hair pasta and rise to $34 for the roasted porterhouse veal loin chop. The cast-iron-fired 16-ounce ribeye is $32, my wife’s Grilled Manhattan Strip Loin was $24 and my sea bass special was $25. Fish, seafood and pasta dishes range from $16 to $20. Our generously portioned crème brulee and bread pudding were each $8.50 and large enough to split or take home to enjoy later.

Bistro 157 offers full bar service, including martinis and exotic cocktails from $9 to $10, domestic, boutique and imported beers from $4 to $8 and by-the-glass wine selections from $9.50. Half-bottles of wine cost between $18 to $55 and whole bottles range from $20 to $125.

If you go

◆ Bistro 157

◆ 157 Lincolnway,
Valparaiso

◆ Open for lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and for dinner 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4-8 p.m. Sunday.

◆ Reservations accepted and recommended; call 462-0992.

Maps

Updated: March 18, 2012 8:06AM



It was a few days before Valentine’s Day and my wife and I were hoping to dine someplace romantic.

It wasn’t hard choosing Bistro 157. This downtown Valparaiso landmark consistently serves some of the best food in the Chicago area in a stylishly intimate setting.

While owner Nicole Bissonnette may have been trained at France’s famed Cordon Bleu school, her culinary repertoire is vast and is not bound by French cooking restrictions. Rather, she seems to use her French training as a launching point to inform and redesign favorite dishes from other culinary traditions, such as Italian, Indian and Asian.

What better than oysters, those hard-shelled aphrodisiacs, to start our evening? Bistro 157 sells them in pairs, so we ordered four on the half-shell and two prepared Rockefeller-style, baked with creamy spinach, grated Parmesan cheese, butter and bread crumbs. The creamy sauce and crust lent an appealing texture to the sweet, juicy bivalve mollusks. The raw Blue Point oysters, which were served on the half shell with slices of tart lemon and a tangy salsa, tasted fresh and light.

After our short foray to the sea, we returned to Italy with an order of mushroom-stuffed ravioli. The two pasta creations were served in a caramel-colored sauce that disappeared as fast from the serving bowl as cash in a bank heist. The twin ravioli, each as large as a deck of cards, were cooked al dente and burst with the woody flavors of finely diced chanterelle, black trumpet and crimini mushrooms. The subtle, reduced sauce included apple butter, roasted garlic, oregano and thyme and a sweet touch of Marsala wine.

While we’ve enjoyed Bistro 157’s excellent version of the French country classic dish, cassoulet, on previous visits and were tempted by the Indian tikka masala shrimp and pan-roasted duck, we were seduced by the sea bass special and an intriguing steak.

Bistro 157’s version is nicely marbled and beautifully grilled with a pleasing crust. My wife’s Grilled Manhattan Strip Loin is a specialty cut medallion lacking the bone of a New York strip steak and cut from the strip loin. It was plated with Rockefeller-style creamed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes and a Maytag bleu cheese tomato vinaigrette, a delicious combination beautifully served.

My sea bass was seasoned with a light brown sugar, fennel seed and herb topping and pan seared to form a delectable golden crust that protected the fish and added a delightful surface texture before being finished in the oven. It was served with an evanescent port wine sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and a few spears of asparagus, a masterful presentation.

Though our appetites were more than sated by the sensuous servings of scrumptious dishes, we couldn’t leave without dessert. Chocolate lava cake, apple galette and cheesecake all sounded alluring, but the bread pudding and crème brulee captured our hearts and taste buds. The crème brulee was creamy and rich, with a glassy brown finish of hardened caramel over an egg custard. That surface, which cracks like thin ice, offers a sweet, delectable reward in clear contrast to the creamy vanilla-flavored custard. It was served with diced honeydew melon, pineapple and strawberries.

The bread pudding version we devoured featured chocolate chips, a slightly crisp surface and soft interior with a light caramel sauce. It, too, was joined by slices of fresh melon, grapes and berries.

Dining at Bistro 157 is a sensual, gastronomic treat. This
is as good as it gets in northwest Indiana. Enjoy this moveable feast, even if you’re not seeking a romantic night out.



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