My wife, the vegetarian, and I decided to check out Koho Bistro based primarily on their website. Everything looked delicious. I will confess to a certain trepidition when we got there, and discovered a storefront in the middle of a stereotypical strip mall. That was not promising.
Once inside, however, we found a charming little restaurant, tastefully decorated and pleasantly staffed. The menu was interesting, the wine list diverse but not huge, and the bar well-stocked and competently staffed.
I had a Tom Collins before dinner, and it was perfectly made. We ordered a bottle of Brigadoon pinot noir, in part because we remembered driving past the Brigadoon winery and vineyards on the way to Eugene. It turned out to be a surprisingly spicy and robust pinot, which went very nicely with everything we ordered, and worked fine just to drink by itself.
After some bread and butter (salted with "Hawaiian lava salt," whatever that is), we started our meal by splitting a "Grains, Beans, and Things" salad. The too-cute name belied a delicious appetizer, far and away the best green salad I've had in some time. Arugula was mixed with a delicious blend of wheat berries, barley, black rice, quinoa, chickpeas, black eyed peas, toasted almonds, dried cranberries and goat cheese (just a little, not overpowering like it can be). There was something very peppery about it, beyond the ground pepper that the server added. I'm not sure if it was the arugula, or the "Moroccan vinaigrette" (again, whatever that is). But it was a stunning combination of flavors and textures. (Note that I just used the word "stunning" to describe a pre-dinner salad. How often does that happen?)
The wife ordered the mushroom entrée, made up of layers of phylo dough and wild mushrooms. My description doesn't begin to do it justice. The wife just kept saying, "Amazing. Amazing." We dine out frequently -- it's our one indulgence -- so we tend to be fairly judgmental, and not too easily impressed. After she gave up on finishing her very sizeable entrée, the wife remarked, "That was the best meal I've had in a long, long time!"
I ordered the quail (semi-boneless), stuffed with sausage, on a bed of cauliflower pilaf, with a blue cheese potato gratin on the side. Absolutely delicious, and small enough that I could finish it, and thus not feel guilty about ordering dessert. The quail was perfectly cooked, tender and moist, with a crispy skin. The sausage stuffing was not too spicy, and nicely complemented, rather than overwhelmed, the quail.
For dessert, we split a lemon-scented pound cake. The pound cake was cut into four slices, which were lightly toasted and topped with whipped cream drizzled with citrus oil. On the side were port-poached pear slices drizzled with calvados syrup. We made great sport of attempting to guess the spices that the pears were poached in. We're not sure if we guessed right, but we're definitely inspired to try to recreate this dessert at home.
This was our first visit to Eugene where we really tried to find a great restaurant. We were not disappointed in the least. Despite the unfortunate location.
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