Saturday, October 25, 2014

What's Up! Magazine
GET THE LOCAL DIRT • Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Island and San Juan, WA

LET’S EAT: A’Town Bistro a place to be

May 2nd, 2012 | By | Category: Food

by Jessamyn Tuttle

“There is nothing on this plate that isn’t good,” said one of my dining companions at A’Town Bistro the other day. I had to agree, not just about her plate but about everything I’ve tried there. For a restaurant that’s only been open a few months, it’s a remarkable achievement.

Gâteau au chocolat. PHOTO BY JESSAMYN TUTTLE

Located in the space formerly occupied by La Vie en Rose bakery in downtown Anacortes, the bistro is cozy and welcoming. Despite having little daylight, thanks to the deep, narrow shape of the room, the feeling is bright and comfortable with a definite Northwest vibe. A long curving bar offers access to the extensive array of beers on draft (order a flight to try several at once), plus a well-chosen selection of wines from Washington, California and Europe.

The menu at A’Town features a selection of European-style bistro classics, like moules frites and French onion soup, plus some unusual twists like the Scotch egg or the wild boar burger. There’s a wide price range in the large plates, from a $13 plate of pasta to a $28 ribeye steak, plus a nice selection of small plates for sharing or for those (like me) with smaller appetites. Ingredients are from local and organic sources as much as possible, and the restaurant expects to increase their use of local produce even more once the farmer’s market opens.

Regardless of provenance, the food is excellent. The wild boar burger, one of their most popular items, was juicy and delicious. French onion soup was brought to the table dangerously hot, as it should be, and not too salty. The beet salad was a nicely composed plate of greens, roasted golden beets, apple, herbed cheese and hazelnuts. Mussels were perfectly cooked in a bright, flavorful broth with bits of spicy Spanish chorizo, one of my favorite shellfish preparations. Halibut and chips, while priced a little higher than usual for a fish-and-chips plate, were perfectly done, and the fries were cut small, very crispy, and dusted with truffled parmesan salt, giving them an especially savory aroma. The most impressive item we had at dinner was the steak, which was cooked (as requested) medium rare, and was absolutely tender while still having great beef flavor. Its accompaniments, a few smashed and roasted young potatoes and a pile of Brussels sprouts, were well chosen.

The dinner menu. PHOTO BY JESSAMYN TUTTLE

Sunday brunch is just as satisfying. When we visited recently the dining room was far from full, but they deserve to have a line out the door for food like this. Several items from the lunch and dinner menu made reappearances, but there were plenty of egg dishes, including a really fine ham shank benedict, and a plate of biscuits and gravy that my husband declared the best he’d ever had. I was thrilled to see pho on the brunch menu, and it lived up to expectation: rice noodles in savory broth redolent with star anise, with paper thin slices of beef cooking in the soup. Adornments of cilantro, jalapeño, basil, and sprouts came on a separate plate, plus bottles of hoisin and Sriracha sauce. It was spectacular.

And there is dessert, of course. The list is short: simple crème brûlée, gâteau au chocolat, and a cheese plate – all bistro classics. We tried both the brûlée and the gâteau, and they were absolutely perfect, which is no mean feat for either dish.
Prices may seem high to some guests, but I think you’re getting what you pay for at A’Town Bistro.

A’Town Bistro is located at 418 Commercial Avenue in Anacortes, and can be reached at (360) 899-4001. For more details, visit atownbistro.com.

Published in the May 2012 issue of Grow Northwest magazine.

One Comment to “LET’S EAT: A’Town Bistro a place to be”

  1. Anne Koepsell says:

    Great review and I agree 100%. I’ve had a number of the items mentioned in the article and it is some of the best food I’ve eaten. The Wild Boar Burger is beyond description – tender, juicy, flavorful. And the French Onion soup is the best I’ve had anywhere – loaded with more onions than broth. This Bistro is worth the drive to Anacortes alone!

Leave a Comment