Review: Bidwell Street Bistro

While I’ve been to the Bidwell Street Bistro several times over the past few years, I realized recently that every visit was organized by my dining partners.  The location (strip mall spot in the Target parking lot) has probably contributed to my overlooking it as a desired dining destination when I’m planning… However, yesterday, I used the Yelp app on my iPhone to search for restaurants in the Folsom area and the BSB popped up.  I used the “Make a Reservation” button on the business yelp page, which uses the Open Table reservation feature, and quickly had a 7pm slot for two.

The restaurant is owned by Richard Righton, who also owns Relish Burger Bar (http://www.yelp.com/biz/…) and 36 Handles (http://www.yelp.com/biz/…) in El Dorado Hills, both of which are favorites of mine.

As mentioned earlier, the location is off-putting…but once you are inside, it feels like a Parisian bistro.  The large storefront windows, framed by curtains, and the pretty decor work well to keep your mind off the fact that you are indeed, steps away from mundane shopping and oil changes.  You walk in to an intimate entryway with the hostess booth, plush silk panels separating you from the rest of the restaurant (and protecting the diners from the cold drafts that waft in every time the door is opened…very thoughtful).  The main dining area has 2 and 4 person tables set with white tablecoths, a bar area, and a private dining area off to the right.  We were there on a Tuesday night, and the place was busy…a good sign.

Drinks: We started with Raspberry lemon drops followed by the Renwood Cabernet.

Dinner: We had the cheese plate to start, followed by the Dungeness Crab Cakes with baby green beans, mango salsa, basmati rice and a buerre blanc.  The cheese plate was not memorable, but the crab cakes were another story…roasted, not pan fried, they were light and flakey, and perfectly complemented by the beans and rice.  My friend and I ate every last bite on our plates.

Dessert: Can’t go to a Parisian-themed restaurant and not have dessert…it just won’t do!  I had the Profiteroles (three choux pastries filled with vanilla ice cream, topped with sugared sliced almonds, drizzled with chocolate sauce) and my friend had the Mille Feuille (A napolean: layers of puff pastry, sandwiching Meyer lemon curd and strawberries, topped with whipped cream).  Again, these disappeared quickly, accompanied by groans of sublime bliss.

My mark of a good restaurant: can they make a cappuchino that makes me happy?  My cappuchino was perfect, hot espresso with a good head of froth.

My friend and I spent 2.5 hours there and did not feel rushed through our dinner.  The service was impeccable…the BSB is now in my mental rolodex of restaurants to frequent!

Bidwell Street Bistro
1004 E Bidwell St
Folsom, CA 95630
(916) 984-7500

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Review: 36 Handles

New name, new owner for the old Kinee O’Reilly pub in the Montano plaza in El Dorado Hills.  Richard Righton, who also owns Relish Burger (in the same plaza) and Bidwell Street Bistro (another favorite of mine), will hopefully bring some of his magic to this restaurant!  

Opening day could not have been more British…gray gloomy day, non-stop drizzle, cold, perfect pub-going weather.  The pub is beautiful…­perfectly decorated by the former owners, careful and authentic details from Ireland, split up into several areas, just like back home.  Only jarring feature: the lights were too bright…I like pub lighting to be a little subdued, helps the sozzled patrons from hurting their eyes 😉  

The usual opening day/night awkwardness from the servers, but nothing that won’t get worked out, I’m sure.  Justin, the manager, seems very competent, and personable.  I particularly liked how the servers had on british sports jerseys, a nice touch.  (Side note: why are most wait staff so damn attractive? Oh, right.  So that we go back…)

My friend had a salad and I had the fish and chips.  Biggest damn pieces of fish I’ve ever seen served in a fish/chip order.  Tasty, but the chips were a bit limp, which actually makes it authentic for me 😉  Tried the cider, not a fan.  Will have to stick to Newcastle ale…  Would like to see more authentic pub fare (chicken tikka masala, Richard!) instead of the California-like food.  If I want BJs or Bennigans, I’ll go to BJs or Bennigans.  Also hope they open for breakfast soon…and become my local Fox and Goose!!

After dinner, we went over to the darts area (surprisingly empty) and played for a while.  Was a little surprised that no one else wandered over to watch or join us…very un-pub like.  May be the suburban angst?  Hopefully, that will loosen up..

The place was full the entire time we were there, but not crowded, and the atmosphere was quiet, but the weather may have had something to do with it.  The guests had that awkward, first-time-at-a-­restaurant look about them, but that should dissipate soon.

36 Handles
1010 White Rock Rd
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
(916) 941-3606