My visit to Bistro 1860 was largely spontaneous. A friend and I had abandoned an evening at a very busy and crowded Apocalypse Brew's event and were searching for a new destination for drinks and a bite. We decided to try the new Bistro 1860 on the corner of Mellwood and Frankfort Ave.
The interior has been revamped in golden yellow ochre, cream, Nutella brown, and black. There is also a charming row of half-size tables behind the bar seating that make up an additional six to eight seats in the bar area. Of course, they still had the killer, gigantic wine dispenser running, but unlike the former L&N Wine Bar, there are no options to taste, only full pours available.
The place was packed and very busy. We ordered our wine and my glass came promptly, but we waited some time for my partner's to come. We were informed that her selection was housed upstairs and the bar was a little in the weeds. When we finally got her beverage squared away, we ordered a few selections from the menu. Plates are offered in different sizes, depending on the entree. Small plates ranged from five dollars to seven, while large portions were twelve to thirty six dollars. Some entrees even had a middle, medium sized option. We opted to try a few small plates which, from my experience that evening, is the way to go. The menu items here tend to be very rich and the small portions allowed for a diversity of flavors without exhausting the palate. Our order included a lobster hush puppy, rabbit fritter, porcini mushroom flan, and Berkshire pork belly with corn pudding.
The flan came first and was not what we expected but still delicious. While my expectation was it would be more of a custard, it had the consistency of a dense mousse. It was topped with a bright orange bacon brittle that was sweet upon the first crunch and then finished with a salty bacon flavor. We found the lobster hush puppy and rabbit fritter to have similar flavors as the protein component of each was very very subtle. We were especially pleased with the creamy mustard soubise that came with the rabbit fritter. The lobster hush puppy lounged in a puddle of blood orange gastrique and lemony hollandaise that was tasty but uncomplicated. I was frowning a little bit at the dish until I scooped up the candied jalapeno which gave the ensemble the bang I was looking for. The Berkshire pork belly was probably my least favorite but I think I've realized I'm not a huge fan of pork belly, period. The fat melted in my mouth and the meat was tender and sweet with the sorghum and Guinness glaze.
Not a bad choice for a night of sipping and nibbling, especially because of flexibility on portion sizes. I look forward to going back and trying more.