On Friday my husband and I headed downtown to First Fridays. We decided to eat early somewhere before the crowd set in. With a little trepidation we entered Bistro Twenty Seven. This restaurant with large floor to ceiling windows and an airy atmosphere had garnered somewhat mixed reviews in the past. In particular a very smoky bar that infiltrated the non-smoking dining room. I was pleased that upon entering we were greeted with breathable air. Of course, this may have been because we were very early. And we needed to be early (6 PM). Any later and reservations would have been required. The hostess was very upbeat. Channel 12 had just been by featuring the restaurant and the restoration shop across the street for First Fridays. We were seated in at a wonderful people watching table with the air conditioner going full force (probably another reason why the dining area was truly smoke free).
Katy, our waitress, cheerfully greeted us and was very attentive. The wine list was divided into wines $27 and under and wines over $27 (more in the $40-$70 range). We could not resist a 2003 Cotes du Rhone. However, that bottle was able to resist us – it was not available. (A word to the wise – snap up the 2003 Cotes du Rhones now – they are playing hard to get.) We settled for a 2005 Rioja ($27) – more fruit than body, but adequate.
While we sipped our wine we were presented with fresh bread with a Portobello mushroom tapenade. I liked the bread, but the tapenade did not have a lot of flavor.
One of the appetizer specials was a fennel and radicchio salad with balsamic vinaigrette, dried figs, and grilled shrimp ($12). We requested to split the appetizer and we were gracefully accommodated and presented with two plates. This was a fantastic salad! The dried figs toned down the bitterness of the radicchio with the vinaigrette serving as a flavor bridge. The shrimp were large, sweet, and succulent. Bistro Twenty Seven should consider putting this on the regular menu offerings.
For entrees my husband selected the Paella ($18) with chorizo, squid, clams, mussels, fish, chicken, shrimp, and short grained rice in a tomato broth. This dish had the hold on spiciness. The chorizo was almost too overpowering, but the squid were small and very tasty. He was not a fan of the brothiness of the dish. He generally likes his paella somewhat drier.
I chose Filete de Cerdo ($18) - Roasted pork tenderloin served with bosc pears and Calvados brandy along with mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley. I had chosen well. The pork was extremely tender. The pears were sautéed like I would cook apples at home. The Calvados sauce was sweet and paired well with the pork and pear. While the mashed potatoes were a bit plain, the rest of the dish constantly delighted the tongue and mouth. And I had so much pork, that I was pleased to be able to take home leftovers.
Katy was one of a select few Richmond waitresses (or waiters, for that matter) to continue to pour our wine until the bottle was empty. I raise a glass to her!
While we still may be reluctant to give Bistro Twenty Seven a whirl on a cold day due to the possibility of a smoky atmosphere, we would definitely go again when it’s hot outside and the air conditioner is circulating cold air.