Let’s say you’re exhausted, but want a delicious, healthy dinner. Perhaps you’re looking for a caterer for your intimate party of four, six … or 100. No matter the size or occasion, we know just the right place: Bistro Catering & Gourmet Take Away.
Photography by Janet Warlick
[dropcap]My[/dropcap] first opportunity to partake of Chef Bonner Cameron’s cuisine was at an open house in a private residence. It was one of those instances when you taste something so delicious that you keep sneaking back for what you hope are inconspicuous nibbles. I was invited back to that home for an intimate dinner for four — again the meal was impressive. We later returned for a photoshoot, and our host styled the table with food from Cameron’s business. Needless to say, we ate the props. So, I’m very excited to showcase his company Bistro Catering & Gourmet Take Away.
Cameron grew up in Houston and graduated from The Art Institute of Houston. He served in a number of white tablecloth restaurants in the region; in fact, in 2008, he was named the top Up-and-Coming Chef by My Table Magazine. He has family in Arkansas and during a visit ate at YaYa’s Euro Bistro in Little Rock, Ark. He later joined the staff there. That’s where he and partner Crystal Dear met, and two decided to start their own venture in 2014.
“I like to take risks,” Cameron said. “I always wanted to open my own place, and I knew how to run a customer-centered business. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we wanted to do it all on our own, without investors, which means growing slowly, but that’s OK.”
“We wanted to be elite and different from other businesses,” Dear said. “One of the ways we do that is to use the highest-quality ingredients.” They picked a Bryant location with purpose. “This is a great area, and we wanted to bring something healthy to the city.”
It’s easy to tell Bistro is different. Display cases showcase available food items — and gorgeous, tempting desserts — as well as fresh vegetables that Cameron uses to create his signature dishes.
Dear said, “We don’t offer any fried foods. We use olive oil, organic vegetables, locally grown, organic shitake mushrooms — they’re grown just down the street — as well as certified angus beef and Purdue chicken, which uses no hormones and no antibiotics. We also use housemade dressings, and all our desserts are housemade.”
The takeaway and catering menus are chef-driven, and the takeaway menu is based on seasonal vegetables and fruits. “We customize each catering menu,” Dear said. Catering menus are based on the customer’s tastes, the venue and style of the event among other things.
“We’ve catered intimate wine dinners, for eight to 12 people, during which we present wines with each course, and we’ve catered events for more than 500. One of our favorite events is the gala for the Bryant Boys and Girls Club. It’s a buffet, which allows Chef to really shine,” Dear said.
She acknowledged that most people have preconceived notions when it comes to a buffet. Their antipasti display is one of their top catering requests; they feature a wide assortment of olives, cheeses, Italian meats and artichokes and bruschetta.
“Our No. 1 seller for both catering and takeaway is the Romano crusted chicken,” Dear said.
They offer daily specials on the takeaway menu, which also includes tidbits of deliciousness like kale salad with dried cranberries, orange segments, roasted beats, almonds and Gruyere cheese, and harissa salmon. “Our goal is to show our clientele that healthy can be good. We serve good food, prepared simply and healthily,” Dear said.
We certainly enjoyed our “simply prepared” dishes. Each was a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. The harissa salmon featured a generous portion of the popular fish and was accompanied by fresh vegetables that were cooked perfectly, just enough to elevate their natural goodness and seasoned in the same manner.
The coffee-rubbed ribeye was a little piece of food heaven. The thing about eating what we shoot is oftentimes the food has cooled by the time our photographers capture the perfect picture. Some dishes diminish in this time. Cameron’s ribeye was not one of them, especially when served with a side of smashed and fully loaded potatoes.
I love risotto. It’s one of those dishes that I should learn to cook for my family, but because Bistro is a takeaway, they’ve saved me the trouble. Their shrimp risotto (photo at top of page) is richly delectable and beautiful. It’s a great pairing of flavors served with nice-sized shrimp that is sure to please.
Bistro offers a number of housemade desserts, including lemon cake with cream cheese frosting, a salted caramel macadamia skillet cookie and tiramisu. The day we visited, we were treated to white chocolate raspberry bread pudding.
I don’t think of myself as a picky eater, and I’ve learned to try everything — especially when writing food and restaurant reviews — however, I do have my preferences, which do not include white chocolate, raspberry or bread pudding. Bistro’s white chocolate raspberry bread pudding has made me reconsider … it was decadence on a plate, and we enjoyed every bite. The creaminess of the white chocolate, paired with the tartness of the raspberries injected into a buttery croissant was just lovely.
Don’t feel like cooking? I’ve got just the place …
Bistro Catering & Gourmet Take Away
5200 Hwy. 5, Suite 6
Bryant, AR 72022
Tuesday through Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m.