Redmond’s restaurant scene continues to expand with Becerra’s Bistro on 6th, a French-American bistro. On a recent visit, we experienced the commitment of chef-owner Moises Becerra to customer service and high-quality dishes.
From a young age, Becerra knew that he wanted to run or own a restaurant. After several years in the Army, he used his Veterans Administration GI bill to attend the Cascade Culinary Institute at Central Oregon Community College in Bend. Becerra fulfilled his dream when he and his wife, Sheila, opened Becerra’s Bistro in November.
While Becerra was born in Mexico, he saw that Redmond lacked better dining establishments, like a French bistro. He chose the site of a 1926 hotel building that took 22 months to restore. Leather booths and velvet chairs, deco wallpaper and fixtures, and a couple of white table-clothed tables help maintain the art deco feel of the building. The restaurant accommodates large parties with bench seating along one wall.
Everyone who works at the restaurant is auditioned and trained in a matrix of 19 steps of service based on the American Culinary Federation Book, Remarkable Service. The excellent service began before we arrived, as the restaurant called during the day to confirm the reservation and ask if it was a special occasion. Looking through a wall of windows, servers can see guests arrive, and are ready to greet them at the door and take a coat. The servers and Becerra himself frequently check on tables to be sure that everything is meeting the guests’ expectations.
My dining companion and I started with an appetizer. The appetizer menu included several French and American items like clams marinière and gremolata Frites, and sliders and four-cheese mac. Becerra told me that he welcomes the contribution of all his chefs. The Ahi poke bites are a recipe created by Chef Athena, another (Navy) veteran from Hawaii.
We opted for the traditional French escargots. More often than not, escargots (yes, snails) are chewy and hard, making it difficult to enjoy the garlic butter sauce. Becerra’s escargot could compete with some of the best French restaurants I have visited. The escargots were perfectly cooked and had a meaty yet soft consistency. The escargots did not come in their shells in the traditional presentation. Instead, the half dozen mollusks came covered with a bread-crumb layer and baked to perfection, there was a light balance of garlic and butter, begging to be soaked up by the stalks of wheat mini baguettes that come with the meal. The delicious crunchy-crusted homemade bread was soft in the middle. It was accompanied by a whipped garlic parsley butter, a burgundy reduction butter and whipped butter.
We couldn’t decide on which soup to try, so we ordered both the French onion soup and the special soup du jour — a creamy acorn squash soup. The bowl arrived with a couple of hearty mushrooms, pearl onions, croutons and a small dollop of sour cream; the server filled the bowl with the creamy golden squash soup. I added a touch of salt, and the soup was superb.
Traditionally, french onion soup is presented with a thick layer of melted gruyere cheese that overflows the sides of the cup. There was a thin but generous layer of cheese atop the typical bread slice in Becerra’s soup. Becerra applied the same delicate touch to the soup broth that was not overly salty like many recipes.
I chose the beef bourguignon, a classic French dish, for my entree. It was served in two bowls — one for the meat, the other for the pappardelle pasta. Becerra explained that he has yet to make a pasta that consistently passes his high standards of quality. Instead, he imports the pasta from Italy. Despite its long journey, the pasta was perfectly cooked and flavorful. The large chunks of beef were tender and fell apart when cut with a fork. Prepared with pork bits, pearl onions and wine, it was tasty but lacked a refined separation of flavors. Nonetheless, I would order it again.
The salmon special was a bit disappointing. Call it salmon en croûte or salmon wellington, the salmon was baked in a flakey crust and was topped with white wine cream sauce with fried capers, dill, and pearl onions. It was accompanied by mashed carrots, haricot vert green beans and buttery saffron risotto. (Typically, salmon en croûte is served with mashed potatoes.) The salmon was cooked inside the crust and had that fishy smell common when salmon isn’t right off the boat or is cooked beyond its soft center. The sauce and accompaniments were tasty, and perhaps another batch or another day, the salmon would have been better.
We passed over the beignets and popular maple bread pudding to satisfy my chocoholic tendencies with the chocolate budino — chocolate pudding with candied pecans and whipped cream. It came as described. It was chocolate pudding and not as light as a mousse, as I might have hoped.
For the most part, the food was very good, and it’s one of the best places to go in Redmond right now. Still, when it comes to fine dining, it’s important to distinguish great from very good.
The price point is above average but not top dollar. Most entree prices are over $30. Beef Wellington is $39. Our dinner for two with all courses ran about $120 plus tip. Becerra offers a lovely, top-notch service experience. Moises and Sheila Becerra’s first restaurant should be a hit, I’m excited to see how it grows over time.