23 March 2008

Bistro 86

Located in the midst of a desolate stretch of industry in Grandview, Bistro 86 offers a plethora of vegetarian options for the vegetarian diner (e.g. you). They offer traditional favorites alongside a few more adventurous offerings, and Bistro 86 is well worth tracking down if you're in the mood for carefully prepared Asian meals.

Bistro 86 has been the recipient of some fairly good reviews, both of the realm of newspapers and the blogosphere. Bistro 86 was also recognized as one of the area's top 10 new restaurants in Columbus Monthly.

The reason for this is that they make great food. The menu is laden with vegetarian choices. I started with the Vietnamese basil rolls, which use a rice wrapper filled with sprouts, cabbage, vermicelli, carrots and mixed greens with a heaping helping of basil that comes through beautifully on the finish. They are light and sublimely delicious, served with a side of peanut-sprinkled hoisin sauce.

Personally, as a vegetarian I have an aversion to vegetarian versions of carnivorous dishes. I have no need for a veggie burger, nor do I want a vegetarian chicken kabob or any of the other million dishes you can name in this vein. Sometimes I'll eat a veggie burger, for sure, but I have never seen the reason for a restaurant to undertake these useless endeavors.

The exception to this rule was found in Bistro 86's General Tso's tofu. This is a simple, classic dish that screams for the dead bird to be replaced with tofu. The cubes are breaded and fried, served in a slightly sweet but sneaky hot red/brown sauce with an abundance of Szechwaun peppers. It is flavorful enough to make chicken lovers bag the bird for good (On a side note, Maxim magazine did a feature on the mysterious origins of General Tso's chicken, which can be found here).

These are just two of the many vegetarian and vegan items on the menu. There is vegetable tempura, two vegetarian tofu stir fries as well as a vegan dish prepared with macadamia nuts in addition to other items too numerous to mention.

The staff is friendly and very helpful. The server spent time helping me pick her favorite vegetarian items from the menu. The one shortcoming (or benefit, depending on how you look at it) is that Bistro 86 has no liquor license. This means you can't order drinks with your dinner, but you can bring your own bottle and save the restaurant markup.

Bistro 86 is as good as advertised. Stop in if you're tooling around Grandview after checking out the pictures below.

Bistro 86

Bistro 86 on Urbanspoon

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