I expected The Bistro on 2nd to hit home runs. Instead there was a strikeout, a double and three walks.
This Monument eatery's lineup features some eclectic entrees, ranging from schnitzel to pasta, pepper steak to liver and onions. After perusing the menu and dinner specials, we shouted our order to the server (our indoor voices weren't enough). The noise level was comparable to that of a densely packed bar rather than an upscale restaurant. Certainly, our party of four contributed to the racket, but only in an effort to hear one another. We requested turning down the sound system's volume, but to no avail.
We began with charcuterie ($16), featuring thinly rolled slices of prosciutto, salami and capicola with cubed Gouda, cheddar and sliced Brie. Olives, almonds, walnuts and a few crackers added texture. All of the elements balanced one another - except the food feng shui was off kilter thanks to the small bowls of honey, olive oil and mustard, which went untouched. We had no bread, as was indicated on the menu, to incorporate them. It was suggested we dip the meats and cheeses.
Not all offal is awful, but our table had no liver lovers. I had to ask: Do people really order it? Yes, according to our server; although she acknowledged that she's not a fan either. Calves' liver is soaked in milk, dredged in flour and sautéed before being topped with caramelized onions and bacon bits. The plate I saw looked appealing, but the problem was that it's, well, liver ($21).
We ordered the 8-ounce pepper steak ($40), cooked medium rare. It features peppered pineapple-mango chutney. At this price point, it's not unreasonable to expect perfection. Instead we were served a near-raw piece of meat. We had to flag down a food runner to take the plate back to the kitchen.
The rest of us tried, unsuccessfully, eating at a slower pace. By the time the properly cooked filet mignon arrived, the other entrees were nearly gone. Although the second effort, which was a long time coming, was cooked correctly, the mashed potatoes and al dente green beans were cold.
On the plus side were the chicken picatta ($23) and the grilled swordfish ($28). Both were impressively prepared.
The grilled swordfish ($28) was one of the evening's specials. This mild but hearty fish has a tendency to dry out quickly. Here it was moist and didn't need the fresh melon and cucumber salsa served with it. Although the bright colors and cross-hatched grill marks made for an enticing plate.
A tangy caper and tomato sauce covered the juicy pieces of chicken. The side of angel hair pasta did little to enhance the entree, but it made sense.
In contrast, butternut squash ravioli ($18) was served, inexplicably, over a large amount of pasta. A light, lemon cream sauce augmented the squash filling reminiscent of fall with hints of nutmeg. The bland pasta did nothing to enhance the dish in either flavor or eye appeal. I'm still baffled by the plating; it's like serving french fries on a baked potato.
The Bistro offers an impressive wine list, including several wines by the glass. The restaurant is composed of four small dining areas: two upstairs, two down. I'm sure when the weather cooperates, the patio is a lovely place for lunch or to pass the evening. It might seem like being benched, but I'm sure it's much quieter than indoors.