By Cynthia V. Campbell
June 13, 2013
Bacchus Bistro & Bar tempts patrons to stretch a simple lunch or dinner into several hours of friendly conversation. Walking into the bistro is like opening a small gift package and finding a genuine prize inside. The bistro, obviously a sophisticated, adult spot, is designed with beautiful polished dark woods, an elaborate, well-stocked bar, and sparkling chandeliers stylized somewhat like large grapes.
Items on the menu are crafted to pair with a wide variety of wines available by the glass or by the bottle. Selections depend on the discriminating tastes of patrons. The menu includes a large number of small plates and appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, soups and desserts. Dishes are pricey but filling and very satisfying.
For lunch, two chicken tamales ($13) were steamed with a moist corn masa and filled with bite-sized chicken cubes accented with house-made ancho chile sauce. The mild tasting tamales were warm, but the corn shuck wrappings were still cool, suggesting the pre-chilled tamales had not been heated sufficiently.
A cup of flavorful andouille gumbo ($5) was filled with chicken, andouille sausage bites and rice in a very dark, thin broth.
For an entrée, the Rex remoulade salad ($15) is just made for seafood lovers. A large mound of mixed seafood, including succulent jumbo lump crab, shrimp, chopped cucumber and avocado was blended in a delicious cream mayonnaise-based dressing with just a hint of smoky truffles. The salad sat on a generous bed of fresh, crispy mixed greens, including mixed lettuces and spinach.
A house specialty, the crab cake sandwich ($12) included a sizeable cake of sweet jumbo lump crab, roasted red peppers, and tangy balsamic onions, along with a small amount of avocado, tomato and mixed lettuces on a buttered sesame bun. A touch of piquant remoulade sauce moisted this memorable sandwich. An excellent bowl of crisp coleslaw in a mayonnaise-based dressing completed the meal.
During a second visit, we found the bistro busy with patrons watching football games on one of the many screens placed near the ceiling. It was the perfect setting for ordering one of Bacchus’ artisan cheese trays. Created so diners can pair their favorite wines with specific cheeses, the trays are outstanding as appetizers or can stand alone as a small meal.
The “classic” tray ($23) included large portions of smoked Gouda, a nut-like semi-soft cheese from the Netherlands; Piave Stavecchio, a nutty, somewhat sweet, aged cheese from Italy; and Manchego, a firm, dry cheese from Spain.
Arranged on a board along with candied pecans, golden raisins and jelled apple conserve, and served with warm, buttery bread, the tray easily serves three or four and is a great way to enjoy wine or a tall glass of freshly brewed ice tea.
The Voo Doo Vegetarian sandwich ($10) drew accolades from our guest. A large, grilled smokey Portobello mushroom was served on fragrant rosemary focaccia bread. The sandwich was dressed with roasted peppers, sweet balsamic onions and enhanced with a hummus dressing.
Equally delicious, the Bullpen brisket ($11) was piled with slow smoked tender brisket in a sweet/tangy barbecue sauce served on a tender bun with a soft interior and topped with toasted sesame seeds.
The Bistro’s Mediterranean salad ($11) was refreshing and very filling. A large amount of mixed greens was topped with slices of tender grilled chicken breast, sweet sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic onions, crumbled feta cheese and a sprinkling of candied pecans. A carefully balanced sweet/sour vinaigrette ties the salad’s many flavors together into a healthy, happy meal.
Don’t overlook the bistro’s dessert list. Bacchus Berries ($9) was a wonderful concoction of strawberries, blackberries and blueberries layered with the orange flavors of Grand Marnier, the almond tones of Frangelica and lush crème anglaise — served in a towering martini glass.
The pièce de résistance was the Zulu bread pudding ($8) featuring a decadent chocolate ganache with raspberry sauce, and vanilla bean ice cream topped with toasted coconut. Don’t be greedy. There’s plenty to share with a guest or two.
Bacchus Bistro & Bar provides seating on tall bar stools and soft banquettes. The lighting is low and popular music plays in the background. Save time to drop into the wine shop next door to explore available wines and exceptional sweet treats.
Take note. Tucked into a rather nondescript strip center just off Interstate 10, the bistro on Highland Road is hard to find because of the array of signs along the road. It’s in the shopping complex with Home Depot and across the road from Blue Bayou Water Park. It’s worth the time to seek out and enjoy the wine bar’s offerings.