Tina, one of the partners from the NoHo bistro and a new partner (whose name I didn't catch) have opened Bistro Bleu on S Macdill in the spot formerly occupied by the lackluster Marrakesh restaurant on South Macdill (a few blocks North of Bay to Bay). NoHo's previous location is now closed if I'm not mistaken.
I had lunch there today and really enjoyed it. Decor is simple but attractive, a bar (Which has a bar bites menu!) greets you as you walk in, creme walls and reddish brown trim, and outdoor seating with fans overhead helping keep cool for those brave enough to sit outside in the FL summer.
The waitstaff appeared a bit puzzled at times, as though they are still getting used to the whole restaurant gig, but the server behind the bar was very attentive and pleasant. They have a great beer list by the way, focusing on good craft brews and locally brewed bottles too. No draft. Wine list looked equally decent, most bottles in the $30-40 range. Menu pricing is also quite reasonable (more so for dinner), most entrees priced in the teens, with burgers/sandwiches around $9. I think given the concept and location they have the potential to do quite well.
On to the food. I was solo today so I didn't get to try more than soup and a sandwich, but both were quite tasty. The soup was a garlic tomato bisque, well seasoned, herbal, and was served with a small dollop of bleu cheese right in the center that really added an elegant note to the soup. Portion was a bit small for $5 but that also could've been visual deception from the choice of bowls they used (I didn't find the dishware particularly impressive). My shrimp Po-Boy was excellent. A complete mess and difficult to eat, but worth the frequent hand-wiping to get through it. Shrimp were plump and tender, ancho-masa breading was great, just a touch of remoulade across the top and a warm soft New England Roll that was probably the perfect choice of bread for this 'wich. Thick house-made pickle slices were delish too, but I think playing with the size/configuration/presentation would be beneficial, maybe serving them on the side? Side salad was simple but the balsamic dressing made it tart and tasty, a nice compliment to the sandwich.
Ooh, checking in on facebook yields you a free drink too, should your phone be of the smart variety...
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