September 10, 2007

Bernie's Bistro (2904 NE Alberta St.)

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The smell hits you right when you walk through the gate to the patio. Fried chicken, cornbread, and love that never dies. Bernie's serves Southern food - and does a good job of making it authentic. I mean I don't know if you went to a restaurant in the South that you would find beef brisket served with a blueberry sauce, but the point is, you believe it is authentic - every bite is like a hug from your mom - and isn't that the idea behind Southern food? Or at least the idea behind eating it.

I, trying to be healthy (in a Southern restaurant? Stop it.) ordered the black-eyed pea salad with blackened chicken. My sister and friend decided they were going to split the beef brisket and asked for an extra plate. "Oh you know what?" the waitress said with a lilting customer-service-oriented voice, "I'll just go ahead and split it for you. That'll make it easier for you." And no extra charge for splitting it, either. Nice.

We enjoyed the breeziness of the patio for a while, and then, another waitress passing by asked us if we were cold (we might have been shivering just a little). We acknowledged that it was a bit chilly. She sent over another server - a young hipster man with a cool colorful shirt and black framed glasses, slightly more aggressively hip than my own black framed glasses. As he worked to turn the heater on he chatted with us and then complimented me on my glasses, saying that they made me look smart. Ha ha - fooled him! He made me smile, though and I forgot for a minute that we had been waiting over a half hour for our food.

A half hour became 45 minutes. My friend was about to complain to our waitress, but as the waitress approached our table, she said, "So sorry - our kitchen got really backed up. Your order should be up shortly. I'll send you out some dessert, too - your food should not have taken this long. Sorry about that." True to her word, our food was out within a couple of minutes. The entree that was split between my two co-diners was perfectly split on two plates - beef brisket with blueberry sauce, asparagus and gruyere bread pudding, both plates presented beautifully with the smaller portions. I had a bite - heaven. My salad was crunchy and flavorful and melded flawlessly with the warm blackened chicken resting atop.

We ate quickly, due to our extreme hunger while waiting, (okay, we did devour a plate of fried pickles, so maybe we weren't extremely hungry) and also in breathless anticipation of what dessert the waitress would send out. Banana bread pudding with caramel sauce. It was like eating a perfectly cooked cinnamon roll, (you know, when the dough is just barely cooked through and it is chewy and moist) covered in buttery caramel. Despite our full stomachs, we finished off the bread pudding.

You can go to Bernie's assured that they have excellent food, excellent service and if it's not prompt service, they'll take care of you. Just like your mom would.

Bernie's is open Tuesday through Friday, 4pm to 10pm. Reservations recommended. Photos from

Bernie's Southern Bistro on Urbanspoon


Sara said...

I have never heard of Bernie's, but after reading your review, I definitely think I need to visit! Anyplace that has a good bread pudding, among other things, requires a visit from me.