Receiving NSOF (No Special Occasion Flowers) is always nice and like the name says shouldn't be reserved for special occasions. Well that's what Bistro Aix is trying to do with eating out. Their new menu is casual, shareable, and especially perfect for NSOD (No Special Occasion Dining). We were recently invited to sample their new food and drink menu. Your old favorites and signature dishes are still there, but the new dishes are just as inviting and inventive. They can be ordered for lunch, dinner, or just for a snack.
The tasting started with champagne which was fitting because everything to follow would have worked perfectly with champagne (really, what doesn't?). A glass of casual champagne also made sense for a menu that worked to be both casual and a little special. As much as we might have been tempted to stick with champagne, it was a tasting after all, so we tried out the Aixoise dirty martini and a house created San Marco Cocktail. This colorful refresher is highly suitable for an afternoon lounge in the summer. It's made with vodka, fresh muddled blueberries, and lemon juice served with a cucumber slice.
San Marco Cocktail
For food, we started with homemade potato chips covered in warmed stilton and blue cheese. They were crispy, not greasy or soggy, and had just the right amount of salt. The rich, decadent cheese was a perfect offset to the more subtle potato flavor. The strong flavor and richness of the cheese make this a great dish for sharing.
On the lighter side of the starter menu were mussels, steamed with white wine, thyme, and garlic. The mussels are normally served with plain frites but we got to try the more luxurious truffled parmesan frites, paired with a delicious garlic aioli sauce.
For a main dish, there are three new pizzas, the Marghertia (mozzarella, basil, and tomato), the Italian Sausage (homemade sausage and caramelized onion and spicy sauce), and our favorite, the Mushroom Fontina (hen of the woods mushrooms with white truffle oil). If you're a fan of truffle oil, this new menu has some real treats.
The Le Grande Cheeseburger had pickles, onions, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and a secret sauce that really made this burger a hit. Perhaps the most unique menu item was the gnocchi with braised oxtail ragout. The gnocchi was tender but chewy, and the ragout was rich and oh so flavorful.
For dessert, we tried the Bananas Foster. It's flambéed bananas in a butter, brown sugar, and orange juice mixture that brought back fond memories of a 1970s flambé restaurant we used to go to (but only for special occasions) until the owner flambéed his ruffled tuxedo shirt. There were no accidents with this dessert, though. It was sweet, warm, and a great way to end a meal.
We had fun sampling the new menu. Bistro Aix has done a great job making their menu more accessible, with plenty of NSOD options suitable for a quick bite or a casual dinner.