Bay Street Bistro

Bay Street Bistro

Bay Street Bistro

I know Chef John Strasinger is serious about local food because I ran into him at the Port Orchard Farmer’s Market last week. He invited me to check out his new Saturday lunch menu. So yesterday Alex, Ted and I turned up at a table about 11:30 to investigate.

There are two menus for the Farmers Market lunches, a regular menu and a specials menu which came to our table literally hot off the printer. These little bites were all in the $5 to $6.50 range. Saturday’s offerings:

  • Gouda Mac and Cheese, made with Golden Glen Old Gouda
  • Fresh Penn Cove mussels in Spicy Coconut Shallot Sauce
  • Grilled Wild King Salmon over Baby Greens
  • Spicy Roasted Wild Gulf Prawns with Dipping Sauce
  • Grilled Romaine Heart Caesar, shaved Parmesan, toasted bread
  • Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

The idea is, you can come in on your own and have a low-cost plate of something wonderful, or better yet, come in with friends and order several plates to share in the Mediterranean style. With three of us at the table we just went ahead and ordered the whole specials menu. I thought this was a great way to get a feel for chef’s style.

Let’s get this out of the way up front – it was all fantastic. First, chef knows how to cook. There’s a core competency in Northwest cuisine: you have to know how to handle salmon. It’s easy to overcook and then slather on a sauce to cover it up. The wild king salmon came to the table pink and moist and unadorned, with the natural salmon flavor shining through. This cuisine also stays true to its Mediterranean roots, as in the very nice bruschetta on firmly toasted but not overly hard bread, with a fresh dice of tomato and basil.

The caesar salad had a culinary flare, a spear of romaine with grill marks topped with generous hunks of parmesan. The prawns tasted like prawns, then the sauce kicked in, not just sprayed with sriracha but with a developed flavor, cooled by the dipping sauce.

So we knew we were in good hands as we turned our attention to the mussels. They were just opened and delicious. The sauce was amazing – we took turns guessing what might have provided the flavoring, while we ordered a plate of bread to soak it up. The mac and cheese is one of those classic culinary turns which elevates comfort food to a fine experience. My plan is to sneak back to the restaurant when the guys aren’t around and have a bowl of that dish all to myself.

Chef does a few desserts himself, most are provided by his partner Matt Carter of Carter’s Chocolates. We split a lemon cheesecake and orange-chocolate ice cream, both with that distinctive Carter chocolate flavor, balancing on the edge between sweet and sour, tart and smooth. The bistro’s uncluttered decor and Med-inspired colors took us right back to a Mediterranean cafe, with the smell of salt water right outside the door, and a kitchen turning out fresh-as-the-moment food.

Next week the menu is likely to be different in response to what is avaialable locally and seasonally. The bistro is next to the theater and right across the street from the park where the farmer’s market sets up shop on Saturdays 9 to 3. You can visit the market and have lunch, or have lunch and then visit the market, a grand start to a local food weekend.

Bay Street Bistro

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