Coast Cuisine - Feb./March 2019
- story by Lisa Monti
Central Station Bistro has built a faithful following since Janice Hall welcomed her first customers to enjoy a taste of California wine country in Bay St. Louis.
Since then, more and more residents, weekenders and tourists have discovered the inviting bistro with the cozy interior and the comfortable outside seating when weather allows.
There is a great selection of wines by the glass -white, rose, sparkling and red, plus sangria and port. The wines come from Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Oregon and of course Napa, Mendocino and Sonoma counties.
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“I draw upon my experience as a Master Commander Emeritus with the International Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine for wine choices/selections,” Janice says. KOV is the oldest wine society in the country and is an off-shoot of the over-300 year-old European wine society.
To make the most of all that good wine, Central Station Bistro also serves an outstanding selection of gourmet cheeses and charcuteries to round out a visit to the bistro, where every board is made fresh upon order.
Prepping the meats and cheeses - all sliced to order - guarantees freshness and that naturally takes time. The result is “worth the wait,” Janice promises. And since Janice is a professional photographer, it’s no surprise that the Bistro’s boards make for gorgeous presentations. Combinations of cheeses with plump grapes, salty almonds, fresh berries, toast, baguette slices and swirls of prosciutto arrive ready for their closeup. “It’s all about the drama,” Janice says.
Janice works with a supplier who specializes in domestic and imported foods to make sure the meats, cheeses and pates are always “top of the line.” Customers know that their favorites will be available and prepared fresh every time.
The boards provide a variety of tastes and textures. The jams are from a North Georgia farm. The crisp baguettes are served hot out of the oven with rich Irish butter. The pickles, pickled asparagus and artichoke hearts add an element of tartness.
Janice’s interest in cooking and talent for entertaining guests eventually led to the Bistro. She and her husband Jim lived in California before moving here and when they found a spot for their new endeavor, Janice easily segued from seasoned hostess to the Bistro.
The boards come in a variety of elements, giving wine (and beer) drinkers a sampling or something more substantial.
The simple sampler comes with one meat, a cheese, dried fruit and nuts served with crackers. From there, the board offerings multiply.
The Fromage board has three artisan cheeses along with fresh fruit, preserves and baguette. The Charcuterie board has three meats served with cornichons, olives, stone ground mustard, dried fruit and baguette. The Fromage et Charcuterie combines the best of both.
With the three meat/three cheese board, Janice says, “I challenge anyone to leave hungry.”
The Sweet Board serves to satisfy cravings with truffles, biscotti and seasonal fruit, all drizzled with chocolate by Ghiradelli.
Janice notes, “The truffles are provided by the oldest chocolate maker in New England, specifically Rhode Island. Both the preserves and truffles are available to purchase under the Central Station Bistro name.”
Fans of crostini will find two standards on the menu including the always popular Bruschetta (chopped tomato, garlic, Balsamic vinegar topped with Parmesan, parsley and mint) served with stuffed olives. The other is half a baguette stuffed with Brie and Proscuitto and baked. “It’s our version of melted cheese,” Janice says.
Regular customers at the Bistro know they can count on finding their favorite beverages and boards in a friendly atmosphere and they also enjoy the service provided by what Janice calls her “Dream Team.”
Jennifer Black joined the Bistro with ten years experience at The Sycamore House.
Pam Valentine, a native Mississippian with a natural talent for interacting with people, has a background in customer service.
Rebecca Jaquith Diaz is a caterer who previously owned a kitchen store in Old Town and is “an all around Bay St. Louis favorite,” Janice said.
Janice promises great ideas are in the works for the Bistro’s future.
Central Station Bistro
205 Central Ave.
Bay Saint Louis, MS 39520
Open Thursday through Saturday 5-9 p.m.