The King Bar and Bistro dishes it up downtown

The King Bar and Bistro in Hotel Indigo Baton Rouge dishes out a relaxed atmosphere and a menu planned for people on the go. Situated at the corner of Lafayette and Convention streets, it’s just blocks from the River Center complex and the Louisiana State Capitol.

Grab a seat near the expansive front window during lunchtime and watch the busy street scene. At night, we especially enjoyed listening to soft background music and taking in the delightful view of Lafayette Park and the lights outlining the Interstate 10 bridge stretching over the Mississippi River.

The bistro’s menu, designed to please hotel guests, is limited, but reflects regional tastes. The hummus for two ($9) was a delectable, creamy blend of black-eyed peas blended with black olives, basil, cilantro, sun-dried tomatoes and Creole spices topped off with small bits of moist feta cheese and a drizzle of Tabasco. It was served with a generous amount of toasted pita bread triangles brushed with butter and dusted with parsley.

For an entrée, the lightly seasoned salmon ($18) was grilled medium well and served over a generous amount of mashed potatoes and enhanced with a smooth, buttery cream sauce. Although slightly overcooked, we found the Tin Roof beer barbecued shrimp ($18) unusual. The six plump medium grilled shrimp were served in a bowl over Gouda cheese grits and a sweet red onion and tasso chutney styled jam. The cheese was barely discernible and the grits somewhat dry. The dish comes with toasted pita triangles.

The entrees come with large bowls of house salad, a delicious blend of mixed lettuces, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and pickled okra, topped with blue cheese and honey pecans in a light vinaigrette dressing.

Don’t look for hot meals on the lunch menu. Instead, there are sandwiches and salads and gumbo meant for the downtown lunch crowd. The chicken salad croissant ($8) is a gourmand’s delight filled with chunks of white meat, plenty of salad, red onions and grapes. The delicious bistro club sandwich ($8) was packed with layers of turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, tomatoes and lettuce on toasted whole wheat bread. These are usually served with Zapp’s potato chips, but we were given side options of fresh fruit or potato salad.

The exceptional bistro’s potato salad is made with a creamy dressing enhanced with tasso and a tangy Creole mustard. It also is served with the Capitol City gumbo ($7), a chicken and andouille sausage gumbo that is heavy on the roux and light on meaty ingredients.

We recommend stopping by the bistro for a light meal. Try the King’s wings, tasty spiced chicken drummets ($10), and a salad. Or enjoy a breakfast of fresh fruit with large, house-baked cinnamon rolls, or blueberry or banana nut muffins ($3 each).

Desserts included a traditional New York styled cheesecake ($6) topped with a drizzle of strawberry syrup, and a small slice of very rich bourbon pecan pie ($6). Toasted large pecans topped the sugary custard filling that was laced with bourbon.

King Bistro’s small, well-stocked bar is a cozy spot for watching sports on TV. The crisp, uncluttered Swedish modern décor is appealing, and the attentive service is outstanding.