By Mike De Felice
Special to Kitsap Daily News
PORT ORCHARD — Enter “fine dining in Port Orchard” on Yelp and the first listing that appears is Bay Street Bistro, a downtown eatery that recently completed a major expansion and additions to its’ menu and cocktail offerings.
“We want you to feel welcome when you come here, just like you are going to a friend’s place for a great meal and drinks,” said Brady Miller, who with his wife, Deanna, has owned the restaurant since 2015.
“It’s not pretentious, but accessible and relaxed in dress and attitude,” he added.
The expansion, which was more than two years in the making, made the restaurant three times larger. The project culminated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony last month.
The establishment’s small bar has been replaced by a massive, high-ceiling cocktail area with seating for 80. The centerpiece of the new space, where patrons can also dine, is an impressive, built-from-scratch, handcrafted mahogany-topped wooden bar.
“The bar is a major component of our build-out,” Miller said. Local woodworker and artisan Mike Jackson designed and constructed the unique fixture.
“It is made of top-grade mahogany,” Miller said. “Some of the wood that was used came from the Gibson guitar factory and is the same type used to make renowned Les Paul guitars.”
The U-shape bar is surrounded by over a dozen leather-padded bar stools. The expansion was designed to maintain the charm of the old downtown building that houses the bistro. Exposed brick and wood still define the interior of the structure, which was built in 1893.
A crystal chandelier and Edison light bulb fixtures were also incorporated to enhance the restaurant’s air of old-school sophistication.
“They add elegance to the place. Some even call it swanky or rustic elegance,” Miller smiled.
In a loft above the bar is a hideaway the owners refer to as the French Quarter VIP lounge. The cozy room features leather couches and jazz-inspired artwork from local artists that hang on its walls. According to some patrons, the lounge exudes a kind of Speakeasy vibe from an earlier age.
Draped in the veneer of an early century urban lounge, the restaurant, not surprisingly, is open only to those 21 and older.
“We have no TV screens in the place to promote a social setting,” Miller explained.
There’s really nothing on the Bay Street Bistro’s menu that suggests Main Street sameness.
Fresh local ingredients
The restaurant’s kitchen features a fusion of Northwest cuisine styles with Italian and French influences, Miller said.
“Dishes feature fresh local ingredients. We go to area farmers markets for produce,” he said. “As for seafood, we get our clams from a local, independent operator who brings them in two times a week, still in local water where they remain until prepared.”
Among the entrees are: house-smoked pork chops, Alaska Weathervane scallops, with grilled corn and sweet bell peppers in cream sauce, and ribeye steak with gorgonzola butter and caramelized onions.
The expanded Bay Street Bistro presents an expanded number of special dining experiences.
Sunday Suppers feature a four-course meal with a new theme weekly. Recent themes include “Ancient Atlantis” with featured seafood dishes; “Bacon is a Superfood,” in which each course includes bacon; “Purple Rain,” a nod to musician Prince that showcases dishes with purple ingredients (think eggplant and berry desserts); and “Gone with the Wind,” a collection of southern dishes.
Another unique presentation, “Wine and Plates,” is a six-course offering presented the last Thursday of the month. Diners are poured a different wine with each course.
Diners on New Year’s Eve will partake in a dining experience ensconced in a “Great Gatsby/Roaring 20s” atmosphere. Jazz recording vocalist and Port Orchard resident Eugenie Jones will provide entertainment. The singer is a winner of Earshot Jazz’s NW Recording of the Year and NW Vocalist of the Year awards.
“The event has not been officially announced, but half of the tickets have already been sold,” Miller said.
The bar boasts a number of new appetizers or shareable bites such as chicken-bacon and salmon croquettes, stuffed mushrooms and pork schnitzel.
To match the elegance of the new handcrafted bar, the owners upgraded the restaurant’s wine and cocktail choices.
“We brought in mixologist Rob Nokes, head bartender at Seattle’s Metropolitan Grill, to design a line of classic cocktails,” he said.
A Blueberry Lemon Moscow Mule served in a chilled copper cup is one of the new concoctions. “It’s a cool and refreshing drink to enjoy after a hectic day,” he said.
An array of wines was also added to the drink menu, along with a high-grade Scotch program. On the top end is a $50 shot of single-malt rare cask Macallan Scottish whiskey.
Bay Street Bistro
The restaurant is at 834 Bay St. in Port Orchard. The full menu is featured on baystreetbistro.com and facebook.com/BayStreetBistro. Reservations can be made through the website. The hours and days of operation are 4-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; and 4-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Phone: 360-602-0310.