By Robyn Dismon
Metro Staff Reporter
Thinking of an alternative place to eat at the Metro Campus, other than the cafeteria?
Bistro 87, the in-house restaurant located on the ground floor of the Student Services building is open to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. What you may not know is that the dining room and kitchen is run by the students currently enrolled in Tri-C’s Hospitality Management Program which focuses on preparing students for a career in the culinary arts, restaurant management, and lodging and tourism.
This experience provides the students with an accurate sense of the day-to-day activities encountered in a fine-dining establishment.
I had the pleasure of being invited to dine at the bistro with Tri-c faculty and staff. Upon arriving, we were greeted by a gracious staff and promptly shown to our table. Once we were presented with menus, it became clear that every effort was made to keep the menu balanced, simple, and above all, affordable.
Melissa and I both ordered the Gigli pasta with fresh spinach, tomatoes and turkey sausage. The entrees are accompanied by a house salad made with field greens, cucumber, grape tomatoes and choice of dressing.
John and Brendan ordered the turkey scallopini, broccoli rabe and savory cous-cous finished with a mango chutney. Both gentlemen enjoyed their selections immensely. John also started with a spinach and mandarin orange salad, while Brendan opted for the poblano and tomato soup, which he loved.
The dining room is positioned parallel to a long corridor flanked by a stretch of windows allowing some natural light. The music selection was adult contemporary, the tables attractively set with white cloth and highlighted by large red mums.
Jacqueline, who is a vegetarian, joined the table later in the meal, and ordered the eggplant steak topped with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and green beans. She loved the bold flavors.
For dessert, Melissa and I ordered coffee and the chef de cuisine dessert, which changes weekly – a delicious and extremely creamy apple and caramel cheesecake.
Throughout the meal, we were visited by Elaine, the front of the house manager who comes to the bistro with a strong culinary background is a respected food writer. Her presence makes our experience that much more enjoyable. She is accessible and makes a point to touch base with each table.
The same can be said for Chef Tom, who also visits with diners. As a first time patron, I can honestly say that the bistro may be the best kept secret on the Metro campus and with the combined talents of Chef Tom, Elaine and the dedication and attention to detail displayed by both the dining room and kitchen staff, it is a win-win situation for staff and diners alike.
Chef Tom creates the menu and has been with Tri-C for 16 of his 30-year career. His primary focus is the culinary arts students and making sure that they get the fundamentals. The contribution of their efforts keep labor costs low and making menu choices affordable. No item is above $9, and that includes seafood.
The environment helps to create a realistic experience and the goal is to translate that to patrons. Chef Tom is full of ideas and energy. He is currently working with the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce to create a new scholarship for culinary students.
He is also planning two new classes, “sustainable kitchen gardening” and the “craft of preserving.” The Eastern Campus has successfully planted a garden, 150 feet long by 10 feet wide, which harvests tomatoes, eggplant and hot peppers – and it is run by the students.
At the Metro Campus, there is also a garden in place, but it is run by an outside organization. The goal is to grow more, harvest more, in order to support the two classes, and provide the surplus to other campuses.
Chef Tom has extremely high standards and it shows. He has a deep respect for the program and most of all—the students. What they receive from the program will contribute to a thriving community once they receive their degrees.