Bite Bistro Jul11

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Bite Bistro

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Rating: 4.7/5 (7 votes cast)

My girlfirend and I were looking for a place to have dinner last Friday night, and my sister suggested we check out the new restaurant where Vivo used to be in Bellevue, Bite Bistro. (This is Pittsburgh so we refer to places as what they used to be. Admit it; you still refer to the Regional Enterprise Tower as the Alcoa Building and the Macy’s clock as the Kaufmann’s clock.) I read a few glowing reviews for Bite Bistro on Urbanspoon, so off we went.

We entered the restaurant around 8:00PM and were told that there’d be about a ten minute wait for a table and were given the options of either having a seat in the waiting area or “walking around Bellevue” for a while. We decided to wait and were led to an odd hallway outside of the bathrooms with four chairs. We plopped ourselves in the retro cushy chairs and, in the dim lighting we soon felt like we were in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Growing anxious by the thought of Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta bursting out of the men’s room with guns blazing, we got up and informed the hostess that we decided to go on a brief walking tour of the main drag in Bellevue.

After gazing into the windows of a few storefronts on Lincoln Avenue (and after I spotted a group of mean looking tweens in the distance heading our way), I suggested that our table was probably ready and we returned to the restaurant where we were promptly seated.

The dining room is small enough to give an intimate vibe, yet large enough to not feel crowded. But things get loud in there when the dining room is packed, as it was the night we were there. We found ourselves speaking rather loudly and leaning over the table to be heard. The décor is clean yet kind of strange. The walls are painted a 1985 circa teal, and one wall was adorned with three Marilyn Monroe prints better suited for a diner. The atmosphere isn’t awful, but I think the appearance of the place could use some work to better suit the concept Bite Bistro is trying to convey. It feels like not much thought (or money) was put into it.

Our waitress greeted us and told us that they didn’t have menus—the menu was on the chalkboard hanging on the wall opposite from where we were seated. She said we were welcome to get up and move closer to the menu to get a better look. We didn’t do that, but we should have. The chalkboard isn’t large enough to accommodate all of the items scrawled on it, and the penmanship was awful, almost illegible. Whoever wrote that obviously did not attend Catholic schools because no nun would allow a student to graduate with penmanship like that. In addition to the messy writing, a few light fixtures dangling from the ceiling obstructed our view. Our two sets of eyes were collectively able to disseminate the items on the menu after much squinting and straining of our necks, and frustration.

The menu is broken down into three main categories: small bites, big bites and dessert. If there was anything else on that chalkboard, we didn’t notice because we were too tired of trying to decode it. I opted for the hanger steak and my date went with the chicken breast. Another issue I had with the chalkboard menu was its lack of description. The hanger steak I ordered merely said “hanger steak, steak fries, bite sauce.” Bite sauce? What’s bite sauce? Was that in the movie Twilight?

The only paper menu Bite Bistro has is for drinks. Bellevue is a “dry” municipality—no corn squeezin’s in these here parts—so Bite is BYOB. Bite offers an array of creative “mixers” or non-alcoholic drinks. I thought this was cool. It seemed like they really put some effort into the mixers. My girlfriend opted for a lemon basil drink that she enjoyed. I tasted it and it tasted like lemonade with basil. I prefer my basil in pasta sauce, but to each its own.

After we ordered, another couple was seated next to us, a 50-ish, well-tanned and perhaps well-siliconed pair who I will refer to as Cliff and Bobbi. My girl and I waited for our food and after a while, we noticed Cliff and Bobbi were served some food while we still waited for ours. My girlfriend noted that they ordered “small bites” and that must be the reason why they got their food before us. Cliff and Bobbi were having a good ol’ time, while our stomachs growled. The waitress cleared their plates and brought them more small bites while we waited for our food. And we waited. And waited.

45 or 50 minutes must have passed before the waitress finally brought our food. She explained that my girlfriend’s chicken breast takes a long time to cook. It would have been nice if she would have told us that from the beginning, or at least during one of her many stops at our table. We probably would have ordered a small bite to hold us over until our entrees arrived had we known the chicken would have taken so long.

But as my girlfriend said after taking her first bite, it was worth the wait. My hanger steak was cooked perfectly—nicely charred on the outside and the perfect level of rareness inside. It was tender, it was flavorful, it was good. The steak fries were piled high, an enormous portion, and they were light and crisp and not greasy at all. It was as if a White House intern sucked all the grease out of them. They were a perfect complement to the steak. And drizzled over everything was the mysterious bite sauce which was very good. It elevated the flavors of the steak and fries without being overbearing or dominating the dish. My dinner was excellent.

My girlfriend’s reaction to her dish was similar to mine. She said her chicken was delicious and the mound of smashed potatoes underneath was just as delightful.

After the long wait for food, the inconvenient menu and the loud atmosphere, I left Bite Bistro thinking that while the food was good, I’d never go back. It was good but it’s in Bellevue—sort of off the beaten path—they don’t have a liquor license and the atmosphere is sort of weird. But after thinking about the food while writing this, I want to go back. And I want to bring friends to make fun of the Marilyn Monroe prints and tattoo drawings on the wall, and enjoy a delicious meal in a quirky atmosphere.

Get your Bellevue on, stop at the liquor store and visit Bite Bistro. The prices are reasonable, the food is good, and you’ll surely have a few laughs.

Check out Bite Bistro online bitebistro.com.

Bite Bistro on Urbanspoon

Bite Bistro, 4.7 out of 5 based on 7 ratings