Thursday, January 9, 2014

*Sponsored Post
Bidwell's motto and mantra is "Responsibly Sourced", acknowledging the heritage of American cuisine and the offerings of neighboring artisanal Market vendors. The restaurant located within Union Market is named after General John Bidwell, a general in the U.S. Army in the 1800’s, a United States Presidential candidate in 1892, and founder of Chico, California. He was an avid farmer known for developing the Bidwell heirloom melon, a gold medal winning flour, and is credited for California’s first commercial raisin crop. Much of the produce served at Bidwell will come from its own crop of fruit and vegetables grown in over seventy aeroponic planters on the roof of Union Market; this is literally roof to table cuisine.  Closest Metro is NoMA-Gallaudet University.

The Bidwell menu will feature several of Chef John Mooney's signature dishes with Southern flair and flavor including: Gin & Tonic Salmon with Caramelized Cauliflower, Crispy Deviled Eggs with Homemade Ranch Dressing, Lobster Taco with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa, and Suckling Pig. Completing the menu is a confidently curated selection of regional wines, craft beers and classic cocktails.

Designed by New York architectural firm GRADE, this expansive 120-seat restaurant will represent a perfect pairing of modern and historic industrial elements, GRADE's way of acknowledging Union Market's storied past while creating an enticing environment for its future guests. Design elements such as its strong lines and white tile lining the bar are balanced by aesthetically softer details including a sprawling white and beige marble countertop, reclaimed wood and charming lighting fixtures reminiscent of a time long ago. Its open kitchen with spacious Chef’s counter and additional outdoor seating will create a casual, social atmosphere in the midst of the bustling Market.

Chef John Mooney has traveled the world as a chef, honing his craft around a variety of cultures and cuisines. Bidwell will be an embodiment of his commitment to serving delicious, creative, naturally sourced American food.  We were invited to a sneak preview of their opening last night and got to sample items from the cocktail and food menus.

To drink, I tried the Canella Margarita that was refreshing with the extra twist of cinnamon.  Sometimes spices in mixed cocktails can be a bit overpowering, but the cinnamon gave a subtle hint of sweetness and heat that balanced well with the citrus.  This would be great to drink during the seasonal transition.

As a shared appetizer, we tried the vegetarian Drunken Bean Dip with goat cheese, tomato, and served with grilled flat bread.  There is an option for carnivores to add chorizo to this dip for an extra $2.  Keith really enjoyed the flavors of this warm and comforting dip.

One of my favorite bites were the Crispy Deviled Eggs.  Served with a roasted jalapeno and buttermilk ranch dipping sauce, this little egg had a great crunchy crust and soft interior.

Keith sampled the Swedish Meatballs that were covered with a creme fraiche gravy.  The meatballs were a decent golf ball size and contrasted greatly with another dish we tried - the cool Marinated Fluke Sashimi. The sashimi was a little hard to eat with our hands, but had great flavor from the citrus, jalapeno, and herbs.  The fish itself was light and very refreshing. 

We also tried oysters two ways: Crispy Fried Oysters with green chile buttermilk dressing and Roasted Oysters with garlic butter, bacon, and parmesan.  Both were delicious. 

The star bite of the night was the Lobster Taco topped with a creamy avocado-tomatillo salsa.  The lobster meat was plentiful and lightly marinated.  Though we only had a small bite, it was enough to make me want to order the whole dish.

Keith enjoyed the Bidwell Burger, which was a patty melt with grilled onion and vintage cheddar on seeded rye bread with an "old school" Thousand Island dressing.  The meat was decent quality and the sandwich would make a filling meal with a glass of beer.

Lastly, Keith sampled the Grilled Lamb Chops that were lightly seasoned with oregano, lemon, and olive oil.  Though cooked perfectly, he would have preferred a little more acid to punch up the flavors.

Overall, I was impressed with the menu items Chef Mooney previewed and look forward to seeing more of the aeroponic ingredients used at Bidwell.  The restaurant's official opening is today, January 9, at 5:30pm.  Check them out next time you go to Union Market.

UPDATE: This restaurant was awarded Bib Gourmand in October 2016.

Bidwell on Urbanspoon

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