Eau Bistro

Eau Bistro seems to be kind of the ‘middle kid’ of The Chase Park Plaza's lineup of restaurants. More formal than Chaser's Lounge or the somewhat casual fare at Cafe Eau, but not quite the white-tablecloth experience that is The Tenderloin Room, Eau Bistro could easily be overlooked by prospective diners, but that would be a shame because the atmosphere and food are well worth a look--and a taste.

Last year, The Chase brought on executive chef Kyle Lipetzky and his chef de cuisine, Jason Paterno, from The Phoenician Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., to revamp the menu; and the duo has worked to bring a focus on local and house-made ingredients and quality seafood, with impressive results.

We started with the Small Plates. The first dish up was the Little Gem ($9), a tasty salad featuring roasted shallot cream, pecorino fritter, white anchovy and a delicate quail egg. The Arancini ($11) was a delicious companion piece, crispy battered balls of rice with black truffle, mozzarella and thyme. Both small-plate offerings were modest in size, and served to stimulate the appetite and not dull it.

In an effort to check out the new direction, we sampled the restaurant's house-made pastas with an order of the Gnocchi ($17); and then delved into the chefs' seafood specialization with an order of the Branzino Sea Bass ($28). The gnocchi was a classic combo of tender dumplings served in a mild bolognese sauce with mozzarella and a judicious touch of chili and basil—a simple, rustic dish that really showed off each of its components. The sea bass was beautifully presented, topped with a thatch of green apple spears and resting atop a bed of beluga lentils and braised endive. The fish itself had nice, crusty edges; and while it had a fairly oily consistency, the taste was mild and delicate, the texture just a bit flaky under the fork.

For dessert, we went with the Spicy Chocolate & Mango ($9), a bit of chocolate sponge, chocolate cremeux, coca nib and a tad of curried almond, topped with a dollop of mango sorbet. It had just the right amount of sweetness to clear the palate without overwhelming it.

For those who enjoy a bit of a culinary adventure, the restaurant has a chef's table option that changes regularly, and there was a hefty wine list of more than 300 bottles that would satisfy the pickiest oenophile. Early-morning diners also have a pretty hearty breakfast menu to choose from at Eau Bistro, a nice change from the grab-and-go choices available in the surrounding neighborhood. As far as ambiance, Eau Bistro was inviting for the casual and more formal diner alike. Hopefully, it will rise above the radar and attain the status of the go-to dining destination it deserves.

--Eau Bistro,The Chase Park Plaza, 212 N. Kingshighway Blvd., 633-3000, chaseparkplaza.com.

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