Menge to Main: The New Old Cuevas Bistro
Hours: Lunch starts Jan. 4
11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday;
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday;
Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting Jan. 10.
Have you been to the handsome new Old Cuevas Bistro yet? It’s only been open a few weeks but some diners on a recent Tuesday night were back for their second and third visits.
And the crowd filling the bar stools looked so comfortably settled in, you could assume they were already regulars. Or it could be they had to wait for a table. The place was full.
Long story short: The original Old Cuevas Bistro on Menge Avenue owned by Cassandra Timmons burned down in July 2014. The reopening/move to 111 Main Street by Timmons and Toni Strickland got rolling earlier this year, and after a long slog, the doors finally opened December 15.
But the kitchen already is humming along in high gear, turning out shareable appetizers and generous entrees, plus a string of sides. Specials change daily, starting with red beans and rice on Mondays.
The Oysters St. Louis heads the list of appetizers, and rightfully so. The local oysters are wrapped in smoky bacon, skewered, fried to a crispy state and sauced with citrus beurre blanc.
Fried oysters. Bacon. Buttery sauce. Yes, please. Easily could pass as an entree.
The house-made pork and veggie spring rolls were crunchy and delicious on their own with the Thai chili sauce and came with Asian slaw that was a surprise standout, rich with soy sauce.
The appetizer list includes familiar favorites — crab cakes, fried green tomatoes — plus some unique ones like duck quesadillas and baked cheese gratin.
Each of the three chicken entree dishes sounded better than the next: Montrachet, Milanese, and Blue Corn. The Montrachet chicken breast was pan fried to perfection, stuffed with spinach and various cheeses and topped with pesto cream sauce alongside angel hair pasta. And the leftovers held up well - until lunch the next day.
Bottom line: The long-awaited Old Cuevas Bistro is worth the wait and a welcome addition to Old Town.