Consummate and artistic attention to detail is what sets Pybus Bistro apart from most other restaurants in the area.
Frank St. Dennis and Michele Lak, chefs and co-owners of the new French-style bistro in the Pybus Center, know how to create dishes that are thoughtfully composed, beautiful to the eye and a sumptuous joy to the palate. Best possible local ingredients are used as a rule. The atmosphere is pure Parisan blue-collar, with indoor and outdoor seating, soft music and a small bar that serves several food items until late.
This came as no surprise to Annette Pitts and me. We judged last year's Dream Meal and were bowled over by the dishes the couple made for us when they headed up the kitchen at the Bistro at Vin du Lac. Their fresh gnocchi with Brussels sprouts and wild mushrooms won best entree last year, but we loved everything they prepared for us and wanted to give them more than one award. We worried if they would be able to match our high expectations for their new restaurant this year.
We needn't have worried. Every item we had this year — appetizer, salad, entree and dessert — was among the best we found at 14 local restaurants reviewed this year. We had great food and service at many restaurants this year, but we all agreed that Pybus Bistro provided us with our best overall dining experience. That said, the menu is very small, favoring pork and fresh vegetables, with all items priced ala carte in a French bistro-style. It won't suit everyone's tastes. It suited ours perfectly.
St. Dennis and Lak seem to have an ability to put simple contrasting ingredients together that always yield masterful seamless results. Every ingredient contributed to the whole without losing its own character. Nothing overpowered another. The creations offered great aromas, attractive presentations and subtle, balanced flavor combinations.
Our review dinner included the menu's beautiful Beet Gratin salad. Roasted and sliced red and yellow beets were layered with subtly-flavored bleu cheese mousse, then topped with arugula and walnuts. The appetizer was a large chunk of slow roasted pork belly (uncured bacon) that was deep fried crisp, served with an apple compote.
Our daily fish special was a filet of pan fried ling cod, topped with thick strips of locally cured bacon on a bed of cauliflower puree with roasted cauliflower and cherry tomatoes.
The dessert we picked as the best we had this year. The deconstructed chocolate mousse, composed of two large torpedo-shaped quenelles of decadent chocolate mousse and whipped cream swimming in a pool of Creme Anglaise custard, was rich with subtle intensity and yet amazingly light and delicate.
"Supremely delicious!" raved Annette."There is a sense of focus, finesse and balance present in everything we ate."
"Everything was cooked perfectly and presented beautifully," added Kent.
St. Dennis and Lak are both Wenatchee High School graduates. He's a graduate of Portland Culinary School. Both have had wide experience cooking in upscale hotels and restaurants in California and Seattle.
We enjoyed the inexpensive house wines, glasses of white and red Arrogant Frog blends from the Languedoc region of southern France.
Pybus Bistro, Pybus Center, 888-7007; open Tueday through Sunday with lunch, dinner and all-day menus, open for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. brunch only on Sunday. Dinner entree prices range from $16 to $20, salads and appetizers are $5 to $7.
The Dream Meal Team has been at it again. For the second year, our group of three experienced foodies took on the enviable task of dining out once or twice a week at some of the region's finest restaurants for reviews and to pick the best appetizer, salad, entree and dessert for the Foothills magazine's annual Dream Meal.
The winners — and there were many — are published in the January-February issue of Foothills, now available at many locations. Reviews of all participating restaurants will appear one each week on the Winemaker's Journal website.
The Dream Meal review team is made up of Annette Pitts, director of the Cascade Loop Association, former caterer and food blogger; Kent Getzin, Wenatchee School District director of food services and member of the National Farm to School Board of Directors; and Rick Steigmeyer, food and wine blogger and Wenatchee World staff writer. Most of the food photos were taken by Kent and his nifty iPhone 5.
All meals were provided by the restaurants, most drinks were purchased. As current or former food service workers, we all want to see local restaurants succeed. Criticisms, if any, are all meant to be constructive.