Find Your Way to Blind Pig Bistro


The left side of the menu board.

The right side of the menu board.

Hamachi crudo with avocado, chilies, and apple. (Half-portion shown.) Brilliant knifework, incredible flavor combination. Spicy and yet soothing.

Manila clams with bacon and salsa verde. You'll want to order a side of bread for all the salsa at the bottom of the bowl. Nice-sized clams, perfectly cooked.

Chioggia beets with blood orange, fennel, horseradish, and sorrel. (Half-portion shown.) Nice bite to this dish.

Sturgeon with Brussels sprouts, anchovy, pine nuts, and currants. (Half-portion shown.) Favorite dish of the night. Sturgeon is dry at many other locations; here, it was moist, slightly oily, and perfect. All the ingredients played together well.

Cuttlefish with chorizo, escarole, grapefruit, and mint. Intriguing, but actually my least favorite dish of the night. The chorizo overpowered the rest of the ingredients, and the dish could have used more seasoning.

Moulard duck with rice beans, red cabbage, and cherry tapenade. (Half-portion shown.) Another winning dish. (Light was getting bad, so used a different camera with a flash.)

Flat-iron steak with charred eggplant, black trumpet mushrooms, and potato confit. (Half-portion shown.) Solid dish, with the eggplant the highlight. It's smeared on the plate. I wonder if I can order a plateful? (At this point, darkness defeated both of my cameras.)

Dessert was a chocolate mousse (oh, there was another name) with black pepper, sea salt, and olive oil. A decadent, delicious way to end a great dinner...

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Less than two months into the new year, I have a favorite new (to me) restaurant: Blind Pig Bistro.

It’s far too early to crown a winner for 2012. Recall that Altura was my favorite new restaurant last year. So far this year, for more casual dining, I give the nod to Katsu Burger, though I went in the pre-BC (bun change) days. I’ve heard a few complaints from friends who don’t like the denser new Kaiser bun. I’ll have to check it out.

But back to Blind Pig. It’s in Eastlake at the old Sitka & Spruce location, and while the setting is intimate, it’s still virtually impossible to take photographs of the food (without a flash) once the lights are dimmed. The time I brought a camera to the original Sitka & Spruce, I got little more than a psychedelic shot of the menu board.

Well, Blind Pig’s menu board, hung high on one of the red walls, plays a key role during your visit to the restaurant. You’ll find yourself staring at it while picking out plates to order, and then later as you decipher what you’re eating in each dish. Chefs Charles Walpole and Matt Fortner (both formerly of Stowell family fame) serve up spectacular food that features bold flavors and great ingredient combinations.

Here’s a hint: Don’t pre-order all of your food, unless you’re going for the three or five-course tasting menu, which might help you to try something you wouldn’t ordinarily order. Instead, make believe you’re at a sushi counter. Order dishes one or two at a time, steering your dinner as you wish, and knowing you can get half-portions of many plates. This will give you the potential for a lot of variety in your meal. And with food this interesting, you’ll want a lot of tastes. (More information in the gallery above.)