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 Jan 31 - Feb 6, 2013 

Restaurant Review

Secret No More

B2B Bistronomy arrives in Nob Hill

The Nawlins burger mixes cajun spice with creamy blue cheese.
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
The Nawlins burger mixes cajun spice with creamy blue cheese.
I feel like the taste of Bistronomy B2B has been lingering on my tongue for months now, long before I ever took that first bite. It must have been that tantalizing marketing campaign of theirs.

Several months ago, sleek black business cards started appearing on tables in downtown Albuquerque bars, printed only with the word “Shhh...”, the company name and a URL. It seemed as though anyone who happened to get one of these cards was invited to The B2B Bistro Club, some esoteric foodie coven rumbling in the Burque underground. “Huh. Okay. Neat!” I thought to myself the night I found one, then returned to nursing my drink.

Lemon ginger chicken salad
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
Lemon ginger chicken salad
Later, I spotted a sprawling window ad with that same “Shhh...” spelled out in mischievous curling letters that lead to a woman's fingers shushing her lips. An awning printed with the name “Bistronomy B2B” hung above her profile.

That did it. I had to know what this secret was. Recently, I got the chance to find out.

Nestled into half of the space formerly occupied by now-defunct Vivace, Bistronomy B2B is a small restaurant that specializes in burgers and beer (that’s what the B2B stands for), as well as salads and mixed drinks. Inside, a square bar dominates the dining area. Behind it, a wall of 33 taps pump out an assortment of local microbrewsMarble, Chama River, Turtle Mountain, etc. Bistronomy is yet another proponent of the locavore trend, so the beer and food both call Albuquerque home.

Although it was busy for a weeknight, my guest and I were able to find a seat quickly. The smiling server greeted us and filled us in on the Bistronomy philosophy of serving local, grain-fed beef and locally brewed beer while she took our orders. We started with an appetizer of crisp frites (twice-fried fries; $2). The frites came in a mixed basket of thin-cut yellow and purple potatoes, as well as a smattering of sweet potatoes, all dusted with sea salt and parsley and served with curry ketchup. The ruddy sweet potatoes proved to be the best complement to the curry ketchup.

Then it was on to our entrées. I opted for the lemon ginger chicken salad ($8) and a Mimosa Sunshine with cranberry and orange juice ($4.33), while my friend settled on a prickly pear margarita ($4.33) and a Rosa burger ($9).

The salad was like a treasure chest chock full of goodies: mixed greens with moist crumbles of ground chicken, walnuts, tomatoes, goat cheese, mushrooms, green onions and dried cranberries. The piquant tangy zing of the lemon ginger vinaigrette, with its notes of lemon grass and Thai basil, married all of the flavors at work in the mix. Sips of the mimosa provided a clean finish to each bite of the salad. This refreshing combo has “summer afternoon” written all over it.

The medium well Rosa burger was topped with chile queso, green chile and tortilla chips, and completed with frites and wasabi mayo. My companion spoke highly of the chile’s heat, and of the burger’s “easily consumable” size. Her only complaint was that the tortilla chips on the burger bore a suspicious resemblance to Doritos. The prickly pear margarita was sweeter than anticipated and lacked any tequila flavor whatsoever. We were later told that all of B2B’s cocktails are wine-based (they’re only licensed for beer and wine right now).

I returned for happy hour on Saturday afternoon (starts at 4 p.m., $2 drinks). This time, I went for the Nawlins black and blue Cajun burger with blue cheese, cooked medium ($9) and served with Cajun frites, and a Mary brew (the B2B take on a Bloody Mary, made in part with lager).

The Nawlins proved to be juicy, spicy beef topped with a rich and creamy blue cheese. The Mary brew lacked the zing that I desire, but pepped up nicely with the addition of a couple of green olives. I finished my meal with the delightful Turtle Mountain Seasonal Nut Brown, a beer with a delicate chocolate aroma and notes of nut and caramel.

There are still some kinks that Bistronomy B2B hasn’t worked out yet. Neither I, nor my fellow diners, saw our burgers cooked to our specifications; there was no pink inside any of them, and the medium rare was closer to medium than rare. The only thing that seemed to make the Cajun frites “Cajun” was a dusting of generic Cajun-style seasoning. What’s more, one friend who requested an additional topping of Bistronomy’s pecan wood-smoked bacon for her burger spoke highly of the bacon’s flavor but groused about feeling shortchanged on the amount she received for the extra cost.

Nevertheless, we were all more than willing to forgive these minor missteps because of the overall high quality of the food and service. My friends all sang the praises of the burger buns, which held up nicely through consumption (and were cleverly stamped with “B2B” toasted into the top), and of the courteous service. As we finished our burgers and sipped the last vestiges of beer from the bottom of our pint glasses, one friend made sure to point out that, in spite of the incoming dinner crowd, our party was not being rushed to finish and leave. For all these reasons, I would be more than happy to return, again and again.

Bistronomy’s secret is out. Tell everybody.

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3118 Central SE
262-2222
BistronomyB2b.com

Hours: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday
Noon to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday
Price Range: $8 to $11
Vibe: Lively and inclusive
Vegetarian and Vegan options:Yes
Extras: Happy hour at 4 p.m., seasonal food and drink options
 
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