What delightful discovery for two foodies in a new town–lucky us.
We always ask the same question. “Where is the best food?” We rarely hear the reply the first time.
“What kind of food do you want, plain or fancy?” they usually ask.
Then we say “It does not matter, please tell us where to find the most delicious tastes in town.” They told, we went and they were right!
As soon as we stepped trough the unassuming entrance we had that, “Ah Ha, this is it, we found it feeling.” The owner, Ron, was there to greet us. Amy, our waitress recommended a charming table on the terrace in the outdoor garden by a fountain. Then we saw the menu. We felt as if we were back, basking in a San Francisco’s food-lover’s paradise.
On the menu was Cioppino, an all time favorite dish, IF it is prepared right. Maralyn loves salmon, especially if is fresh and served in a golden, flaky puff pastry. The chef topped it off by serving spinach, mushrooms, shallot and caper dill sauce, Wellington style. I ate mine and some of hers.
There were over a dozen other temptations, but we always go back to our first choice. We normally scan the wine list. Yet, we sensed that Ron, the owner, a former New Yorker, would give us the best pairing advice. It was the perfect pinot noir and Chianti marriage with food. In fact it was ALL perfect. We food writers rarely use the word perfect.
Ron and Dee’s special twist on the traditional Italian salad caprese sent us over the moon to swoon out loud. Was it the capers, the vibrant color, or the fresh mozzarella? We do not know. I know I would fly and then drive seven hours again to taste it.
It only got better when our entrees, steaming hot and beautifully presented at the exact right moment appeared. We were so enthusiastic that a lady from a nearby table who was having an appetizer came over to ask what we were having. We insisted she taste. She stayed and had another. We heard her make a reservation for next week for four.
Brother’s Bistro is that kind of place. It is serene, yet with the pleasant buzz of happy, friendly diners. The owner appears at each table, then grabs a wine and chats after the meal. The wait staff takes photos. The patrons, friends and strangers, table hop, or sit quietly in the corner of the romantic setting.
Of course it is all about the food. My authentic cioppino topped any from the old San Francisco days. Dee used the freshest shellfish and fish brought in that afternoon from off the boat in near-by Oceanside. It was her sauce combination of rich tomato and red wine broth that I cannot duplicate. This dish would have been good out of a plastic cup, but it was served in an individual copper paella pan, keeping it hot, juicy and beautiful.
Besides being restaurant reviewers and food writers, we are both culinary judges. For once, we were not on assignment, so we are writing from our hearts and stomachs. After enjoying this exceptional evening, we were not surprised to discover Brother’s Bistro had recently won the Sterling Silver SCEPTRE award for the Italian Division from the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association.
Special thanks to Linda Kissman of Kissman Consulting, who knew just what we were looking for in a European type bistro – rustic, yet elegant in taste. Yes, the two experiences melt together at Brother’s Bistro.
Our only regrets were that the extraordinary chef, Ron’s wife Dee, was too busy creating culinary magic for a chat and a photo. My other is that I live across the country and will not be back soon, but who knows? I know Norm and Maralyn will be back in the area in a few weeks.
Brother’s Bistro, 835 S Main Street, Fallbrook, CA 92028 760 731-9761