Located on the historic Chardon Square, Square Bistro is a relative newcomer, taking up residence just over two years ago. Opened by chef Jaret Havanchak (of Lure Bistro in Willoughby), Square Bistro occupies a nondescript Victorian-era storefront across from the county courthouse. Despite the rather bland exterior, squeezed into the row of buildings that line the square, the inside is warm and inviting, with a modern-rustic-chic decor (or something like that; I’m interested in the food, not the decor, though the tinned ceiling is nice). It’s a long and narrow space, with high ceilings and a large front window that ensures the inside is brighter than expected.
But on to the food. The menu definitely borrows from Havanchak’s experience with Lure, and there’s a nice selection of sushi/sashimi and Asian-inspired dishes. The overall flavor is new American, but there’s good variety, and a large selection. On this outing, we were there for the Wednesday night date special, which is a three-course meal (menu changes weekly) for two people for $45; not a bad deal at all.
Our starters were a handful of tasty pork potstickers with cabbage slaw with just a little kick, and prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella with a red wine/balsamic glaze. Basic, but both were delicious, and the contrast between the two made for an interesting trip for our tastebuds.
For the mains, S had a pork tenderloin, emphasis on tender, with smashed redskin potatoes and a creamy red pepper sauce. I had a crab-crusted grouper served atop a bed of red rice, along with a red pepper puree. Both dishes were cooked to perfection, and I really enjoyed the addition of red pepper to each. The application was a little different in each case, but the subtle sweetness worked with both the pork and the fish. Excellent on all fronts.
Desserts were a mocha panna cotta served in a mug with a rich salted caramel swirl – I’m not a big coffee person, so the light coffee flavor combined with the caramel was just right – and a vanilla tart filled with strawberry mousse, all atop a berry compote. Simple and fresh, and a perfect balance to the richness of the panna cotta.
Despite being new to the game, Square Bistro is firing on all cylinders and was quite busy on this Wednesday evening. Service is friendly and attentive, prices are very reasonable, with no entrees topping $20 (a pleasant surprise considering the quality of the food and what you get), and the food that we tried was all excellent. Add this to your list if you’ve not already done so!