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Thursday, May 8, 2008

$13 at ... Saucy Bistro

Posted By on Thu, May 8, 2008 at 7:12 AM

In this weekly feature, C-Notes stretches your dollar at restaurants around the region, because we’re still waiting on that stimulus check. This week … Saucy Bistro 24481 Detroit Road, Westlake, (440) 835-3559, For Scene’s full review, click here. What $13 got us: Lump meat crab cake, with potato salad and roasted red pepper aioli. What else $13 can get you: A variety of soups, salads and sandwiches (or the Two for Ten), including a tomato bisque ($6), a Bittaker salad with mixed greens and cauliflower, bacon, blue cheese, and signature Bittaker dressing ($5.50 or $8.50) and a peppercorn crusted Ahi tuna wrap with wasabi aioli, mixed greens, ginger, scallions, teriyaki vinaigrette and sweet potato fries ($11.50). Possible entrees include pretzel crusted grouper with butternut squash hash and honey mustard vinaigrette ($11), grilled sirloin with blue cheese au gratin, wild mushroom duxelle, and asparagus ($12), pistachio crusted tilapia with celery root puree, haricot verts and a chive oil ($11), and organic chicken breast with sweet potato gnocchi, spinach, pearl onions and apple cider glaze ($11). The Verdict: Smart, solid, and, yes, saucy. (Click "more" to read on). With an ample bar, room for private parties, a lovely patio and plenty of specials, Saucy is always a great choice. For a bargain hunter with a ten and three ones in her pocket, it’s hard to beat the casual elegance of the Saucy lunch. The warm earth tones here are enhanced by pleasant mood lighting, glowing from twisted metal lamps decorated in delicate vine shapes. Lunch is well-attended, you won’t be bumping elbows with your neighbor. (Although you may hear more details than you care to, from that lady three tables away who just had the angioplasty. But that’s hardly Saucy’s fault.) The lunch offerings are all quite affordable, with everything available for under $13—a rarity in fine dining. A nice wine menu is available, too, but on a recent spring day, my mind was devoted to the squashing of my hunger, so I directed all available funds to edible sea creatures. Chef/owner Matt Barnes has a masterful hand with offerings from the sea, so I was intrigued as to how he would handle a crab cake. Having attended college in Baltimore, I’m a kind of crab-cake snob; it’s gotta be spot-on in freshness, preparation, and flavor to prevent me from commenting about how much better the crab is in Maryland. (Annoying, sure, but there are worse habits to pick up on the East Coast.) The ample, hockey puck shaped crab cake was filled with flaky, tender crab meat. Very little filling was present, as is fitting, and the execution was flawless—an excellent, crispy crunch on the outside, and mellow, warm meat on the inside. Red and green peppers permeated the cake—a bit too abundant for my taste, but not too troublesome—and the cake was topped with a perky roasted red pepper aioli. I could have used a bit more of the aioli, as the provided decorative swish ran out before the generous cake was consumed. The cake was served with crispy, fresh green beans and an herbed potato salad brimming with dill. All in all, a solid entrée. My companion took advantage of the “Two for Ten” mix-and-match salad, soup, and half-sandwich deal. His tomato bisque was all one could ask for—velvety texture, warming flavor, cheerful color—and his Russian Reuben was equally solid. His order was botched—a French Dip in lieu of the ordered Reuben—but in restitution, he was served some exquisitely addictive French fries. They were crispy and tender and the perfect hue of golden brown. I could have eaten another plate. -- Tori Woods

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