Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dining critic candidate No. 30


Refined and romantic in the same restaurant? You bet. Carlos’ Bistro, located at 1025 South 21st Street, Colorado Springs, has an atmosphere that encompasses the need for an urbane setting for a business lunch and the romance desired for a celebratory dinner for two in the evening.

Even arriving after 1:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, owner Carlos Echeandia personally greeted us at the door – tie flung over one shoulder. The attention to detail is not lacking from owner or from staff. They are knowledgeable and attentive without being clingy. And that’s not the only house specialty.

My guest and I needed a plan and asked for suggestions from Carlos. The Tuna Tartar ($13.95) that was suggested is not to be missed. The pyramid of fresh tuna was lightly seasoned with ultra-fresh ingredients and served with a balsamic reduction to the side. Many of the appetizers are of a size that would be a light meal. The Blue Lump Crab Cake ($11.95), as an example, is served on a bed of greens with a “New Orleans style cocktail sauce” that is reminiscent of a perfectly prepared remoulade. The blue crab cake was a rarity; it was both creamy and brimming with crabmeat. Appetizers at Carlos’ range in price from $4.50 to $21 for the Maine Lobster Tail.

Main course offerings at Lunch include salads, sandwiches, and daily house specials ranging in price from $8.50 to $16.95. The salads were fillings and the presentation was beautiful. Large succulent seafood topped the Shrimp and Scallop Salad ($14.99). The scallops were cooked to perfection – not chewy, but plump and tender as were the shrimp; again, a rare feat. It was complemented by refreshing lemon vinaigrette that allowed the flavors of the greens and seafood to shine.

The “Fresh Catch of the Day!” was a Mahi Mahi with a Mango/Cointreau Sauce atop mashed potatoes and served with a medley of crisp, fresh vegetables. As a whole, the dish was very tasty; however, the fish was fresh enough to have been served less than well done and the potatoes were on the bland side and a tad overcooked. At $14.95, I thought it to be quite a good value and well worth another try.

Unable to resist the call of dessert (like any good woman) – our ever efficient waiter, Aaron, recited the day’s offerings. I chose the Key Lime Pie and asked for a sampling of both New Orleans Bread Puddings. The Key Lime Pie was served in a ramekin and had a good lime flavor but otherwise was rather common. The consistency was a bit off and the crust was not, well, crusty.

On the other hand, the bread puddings – both a chocolate and white chocolate version – were fabulous. Loaded with hazelnuts and topped with a screamingly good Frangelico Caramel sauce, they are sin on a plate! We were surprised by the “oohes and aahes” of surrounding customers over the outstanding presentation.

Martinis are yet another house specialty. A large and varied selection of vodkas and gins is available. Along with the well priced and un-intimidating selection of wines, you will easily find a drink to complement anything on the menu.

Our summation of Carlos’ Bistro: A Real Gem, so go for it – it’s got the grown-up atmosphere, the fantastic flavors, the talented and clever staff, and the mountain views to make a brilliant meal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't make it past the dangling modifier in this sentence, "Even arriving after 1:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, owner Carlos Echeandia personally greeted us at the door – tie flung over one shoulder.


12:48 PM  

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