It's an interesting thing, when a restaurant loses a chef it was closely associated with. Sometimes the restaurant can drastically change, and the quality can falter, resulting in its clientele abandoning the restaurant and seeking out its former chef.
I can only assume the reins were handed over in a tidy manner at Latah Bistro. The menu has changed a bit, and the food tastes a bit different -- both to be expected -- but there is nothing here to suggest that Latah Bistro is anything lesser than what it used to be. Our recent visit was a good one at least, and Latah Bistro is still very much in our rotation.
We gave the pork confit a shot, and good it was. Very flavorful, perfectly prepared, and seasonally served with mushrooms and apples. It's a simple meal in many ways, but simple meals are the easiest ones to screw up, which did not happen here. Imbibe a Fish Porter with it and you have a perfect fall meal going.
The little ear pasta was perfectly al dente, and the kale and cannellini beans went well with it. Yet the best part of the dish might have been the fennel sausage, which was sparingly, though not penuriously, used, and it added just the right amount of texture and protein to the dish.
Really, it'd be hard for a casual observer to spot many differences at Latah Bistro, and the changes are not for the worse (or necessarily for the better) for those of us who have frequented the place in the past.
And judging by the many people dining there, Latah Bistro is not about to start losing many customers. That's good; Latah Bistro serves as tasty of food as it always did, and should still have a spot in your minds and hearts.
Original September 7th, 2010 review
It might be in a strip mall, but Latah Bistro still comes up with better food than many in town. Most, in fact.
With its generous use of local ingredients in what probably can be classified as continental European style fare, Latah Bistro always deliver food that is good and fresh tasting. Particularly the specials seem to be rotated faster than what we usually see around these parts, and they always reflect what's in season, pretty much down to the day.
During our last visit, the wild mushroom ravioli was perfectly cooked, and came with a nice creamy smoked bacon sauce, which also could be ordered vegetarian style. The summer pasta, too, was excellent, with a medley of fresh local vegetables.
It might be the consistency of the dishes that truly makes Latah Bistro a winner. Sure, you might not always like a flavor combination based on your personal preferences, but the dishes are always well prepared, and if you order the exact same dish twice, it will taste the same. Too many places in town have different definitions of what "medium rare" and "spicy" means on daily basis, so kudos to Latah Bistro for keeping consistency in the front seat.
The changes to the actual main menu don't quite keep up with the pace of the specials and that's too bad. It's great to see some new things on paper for every visit or so, something which is the case at places like Sante. It is understandable, though. Many go into cardiac arrest when their favorites are removed from the menu, so from a business perspective I can see why stand-bys stand by.
I would prefer to see dishes rotated more, but heck, I've been guilty of ordering the pumpkin bread pudding off season too.
The strip mall location isn't necessarily the prettiest place ever, but then again, a quick trip through the port and chocolate sampler, and that is soon forgotten.
Overall we're big fans. Latah Bistro should definitely be in the rotation for anyone who likes great local food.