Friday, October 24, 2008

Bis on Main

One of my favorite places to go for lunch is Bis on Main, in the heart of downtown Bellevue. The food is exceptional -- fresh, high quality, superbly prepared; the portions are generous; the prices are reasonable; and the service is good. As an added bonus, parking near the restaurant is fairly easy to come by. I've always been able to find parking on the street, and even if I can't, they have a complimentary valet service. (Parking is one of those personal nits that determine whether or not I go to a place. The stress of trying to find parking often counters any relaxation or enjoyment I might have gotten from the meal.)

Before your meal begins, the server will bring you a basket of fresh bread and butter. You can almost always tell whether a restaurant will be good by the quality of the bread and butter they serve -- and Bis on Main's is wonderful. The crust is slightly crunchy, while the crumb is soft and moist. The butter is quite good as well.

The pomme frites here are fantastic -- I think the trick is that they're lightly seasoned with truffle oil. Many of their lunch entrees come with them; if you order one that doesn't, order the fries on the side or substitute ... it's totally worth it. The flavor of these french fries is unmatched. Seriously -- I once went with a large group and everyone kept devouring the fries, muttering to ourselves, "What is in these?"

My favorite thing to get is the steak frites for $18. You get a decent-sized hangar steak, the aforementioned pomme frites, and some kind of vegetable (today it was asparagus), along with two sauces: ketchup and garlic aioli (which is divine when you use it to dip your fries).

The steak is very flavorful and cooked to order -- which is so important. There's nothing worse than ordering a rare steak and getting it well done (or vice versa). I prefer mine medium rare, which should be completely pink inside and a warm red in the center of the meat.

I also recommend the kobe beef burger, which is $14.75 and also comes with a generous portion of pomme frites. Add a soup or quiche du jour for only $2.50. If you prefer lighter fare, try the Peppercrusted Ahi Tuna Nicoise Plate from the appetizer section -- the tuna is unbelievably fresh and gorgeous (I wish I had a picture), and the portion is so large that it works well as an entree.

I'm not a big wine drinker but many of the restaurant's patrons seem to order it, so I assume they have a well-stocked cellar. I'm usually so satisfied with my lunch (and stuffed with pomme frites), that I haven't yet even ordered dessert here. Today I overheard a table request ice cream, and when the server brought it I saw that there were 3 scoops and a bit of a waffle crisp as well. It almost made me order my own. Almost.

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