What Evil was Wrought Here Tonight (Bistro 33 - Davis, CA)

Monday, October 16, 2006

The first time I went to Bistro 33, it was for a buisness lunch and it had only opened about two weeks ago. I had this amazing sandwich with turkey, herb mayo, pears, smoked cheese; oh it was heaven between two slices of bread. I had been meaning to head back ever since, and with my friend in town, finally we had the chance, 18 months later.

I have a friend who is a chef there. He had been slowly telling me of his desire to leave. That the kitchen wasn't always stocked, the other chefs were shady and untrustworty, that the quality was screaming downhill. Yet, I did not listen. That sandwich still controlled my appetite, and drove my desire.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Let me begin by saying that the decor of this place is out of sight. I love it. It's contemporary, whimsical, and edgy. Shimmering tile work, and wrought iron fire place and live music outside, strung white lights, and pillars of flames at the bar. Genius.

Speaking of the bar, the bartenders are talented, and made a classy combo of blueberry stoli, pom, and sprite for me. Shibby indeed. However, after about 10 minutes of trying to pay, I thought I was gonna have to club him over the damn head with a glass for him to take my bill. I mean Jesus, a bartender not going for the bill and tip? Isn't that a sign of the apocalypse or something?

But why were we trying to leave the bar and get outside so we could wait for our table? The inside was loud. As in you can't hear shit, and I wish I had advil on me at the time. It was louder and more obnoxious than your nephew's 5th grade performance of a John Phillip Sousa march. After going outside to enjoy our drinks, we were paged, and seated. Next to the bar. Perfect. The waitress even had to, literally, yell so we could hear her.

The food? Barely worth mentioning really. It was just disappointing and bad. I know people are raving about Bistro 33 Midtown in Sac, but Bistro 33 needs an overhaul. My friend's French onion soup was just oily water with onions. I make way better French onion soup than this swill. No thyme, no garlic, and I am pretty sure there was no salt or vermouth in it at all. I mean, the hell?

I ordered the special of red snapper in ancho butter sauce with pear chutney, green beans, and couscous with lemon and herbs. Wow, this was just... *sigh* I didn't even want to eat it. The fish was good, but there was no pear chutney. It did not exist on my plate. The green beans were nothing special. Pan seared a bit in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Meh. The couscous was bland and tasteless. No wait, it tasted like water. Swear to God. Water.

Did we argue? No, my friend was feeling ill (it had been slowly getting worse all day, and we though maybe food would help). We had it bagged, but tossed it once we got to the street. We paid and left to get her home so she could lie down.

What is the future of Bistro 33? I don't know. The desire for something hip by the Davis residents will probably keep it open for some time to come, and the cheap beer/dance nights they have will keep the college students coming. We'll see how long that will last before the crappy food begins to deter attendance. My advice? If you want hip and trendy, make the drive to anywhere else in Sac.

On a positive note, I did get a shibby photo of my drink.

Bistro 33
226 F Street
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 756-4566


  1. hehe silly boy, not being able to pay isn't a sign of the apocalypse...it's a sign you are in Europe!!! :) perhaps they had a temporal space shift...hrmm. anyhow the drink sounds faboo and i intend to duplicate it at home sometime. to many ooohs and aaaah's i hope! here's to better dining next time.
    ps- have you been to this pinkberry place i keep hearing about?

  2. Maybe the idea is you get so blasted on the cocktails, you can't taste the food? ;)

  3. Ok, as a Davisite you have to know how to do Bistro right.

    Way #1 Go for dessert and coffee only. The salt crusted cheescake is the best I've ever had. Ditto for their coffee. Kicks ass on any coffee shop in Davis. I suggest also going either late or early and only sitting outside. Avoid the whole inside at any cost (stay away from the pretty lights!)

    Way #2 Bring a board game or cards and relax on the patio while enjoying their amazing french fries. Yes, you heard me right. Served up with home-made ketchup, apple cider vinegar and blue cheese. I suggest you take a dip in all 3 at once.

    I must agree with you about the main menu. Ehhh is the word that springs to mind.

    The patio and fire pit is indeed the main reason to go. Skip the main course and stick to the appetizers and dessert and you won't be dissapointed.

  4. The last time I ate there--two weeks ago--I had a Caesar salad with "grilled" chicken. The Caesar dressing was bland and almost non-existent. The chicken was not grilled (it looked more like poached chicken cut into chunks). How can one ruin a Caesar salad?

    As to Bistro 33 Midtown, I've been there once. My dish was OK but since I don't remember what I ordered, I guess it was not too memorable. Also, the decor is hideous--ultra modern but ugly execution. I don't really care for ultra-modern contemporary styles, but 55 Degreees pulls it off fine. And one of my lunch companions got a nasty case of food poisoning from the pasta special of the day--with smoked oysters and scallops. We will never go back.

    I still like the original Bistro 33 and the Riverside Clubhouse (in my neighborhood) but can't see going back to the Davis location or the midtown one.

    I've been reading your blog for about a month and am really enjoying it.

  5. Bistro 33 midtown... eh... I think that whole block is trying too hard to be something there're not...


    Boo sucky food. :( How can food taste like water? Don't you have to TRY to suck that badly?

  7. I'm so out of it! I've never even been there.

  8. you know it must be something about restaurants with numbers in their names. There is a place in St Augustine called 95 Cordova... we had almost the exact same problems... LOUD music coming from the bar/lounge area... and of course we were also seated right next to it... we all just shouted to eachother... very unromantic! =(

  9. The only thing that keeps me going back to Bistro 33 Midtown is the comfort food extravaganza known as the crisscut fries. They a huge plate of fries with some creamy sauce and a half ton of gorgonzola.

    Plus, it's got a hip/trendy decor, which is fun when eating in Midtown (for use Roseville people).

  10. I agree that the only reason to go is the patio. I've been there 3 or 4 times since it opened. Service is uniformly slow, food is uniformly boring, it's over-priced, and the menu just isn't that interesting to begin with. Now, put Seasons in that location, with that patio, and you've got yourself a winner!

  11. I want to love Bistro 33, but I don't!
    Atmosphere/decor is great-feels "big city".
    However, EVERY time we have been there (and we have given it many chances) either food or service (or both) are terrible. I'm not that picky, but we have had raw chicken served to our child. Waited an hour for salads on a day when there were few other tables. We have taken out of town guests there and have been humiliated. Won't go again.

    They need to get their act together!



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