Bistro 197 serves perfect sized meals in cozy environment

Bistro’s duck special has a good balance of striking taste and sweetness. (Seamus Lyman | The Oswegonian)
Bistro’s duck special has a good balance of striking taste and sweetness. (Seamus Lyman | The Oswegonian)

You may not be on the streets of New York City, but in the small city of Oswego, Bistro 197 provides the elegant dining experience of a classy city restaurant. The atmosphere is casual, making it appealing to a wide variety of customers as long as they are willing to pay the price for a great meal.

The restaurant is warm and inviting from the minute patrons step through the entrance in the Canal Commons to the time they leave following their meal. Bistro 197 has a cozy, friendly and inviting feeling to it. Small, intimate tables fill the restaurant with three booths along a brick wall.

Do not let Bistro’s small space turn you away. The space is not overwhelming by any means. The soft lighting helps set the mood for diners. It may be wise to make a reservation if you plan on dining during popular dinner hours.

Provided at the table is a glass bottle filled with water, allowing patrons to refill their glasses throughout the duration of the meal. Bistro 197 offers a wide variety of wine and beer, along with soft drinks.

While selecting appetizers and entrees, diners are pleasantly surprised to be served warm bread, with honey butter and an olive oil spread. This added a simple but very pleasant sweetness to the normally plain starter of bread and butter.

Service is quick. By the time patrons are finish the bread, appetizers are arriving. The bocconcini, described by the menu as “prosciutto-wrapped fresh mozzarella; basil pesto: breaded and fried. Marinara for dipping,” is an excellent choice for an appetizer.

Initially interesting because of the prosciutto, it is the total package that makes this bocconcini so delicious. To put it in simple terms, the bocconcini is just an amped-up, spherical version of mozzarella sticks. Since it is fried with the stringy cheese inside, it is similar enough to be compared to the unoriginal appetizer, but the prosciutto makes it different enough to give it its own flair, which, in terms of taste, put it in a different league than mozzarella sticks.

The Gnocchi is light and served in a European-sized portion (enough for you to feel full, but still be able to finish the entire dish in one sitting). Although the gorgonzola has an almost overwhelming taste, it works well with the other elements of the dish. But this would not be a good choice for someone who is not a fan of gorgonzola or has never had it before.

The duck special tastes as amazing as the dish sounds. Served with ratatouille or green beans and mashed potatoes, the dish provides an exotic taste to a classic meal. The duck itself is covered in a blackberry sauce that complements the meat well. It provides sweetness to the bird. The duck was perfect, not too dry or too wet. There was the right amount of blackberry sauce with it. The mashed potatoes have a slight hint of garlic, giving flare to the simple side. The ratatouille is perfect for anyone looking for a bit of flare alongside an already interesting dish.

Their chicken is just like grandma would make, giving it the appropriate title, “Grandmother’s Chicken.” It is an organic, free-range chicken, served with roasted potatoes and green beans. As one of the cheapest entrees on the menu, this meal can appeal to any class of appetite. The chicken has a nice juicy taste accompanied by velvety chicken stock and tarragon demiglace. It is accented well with the roasted potatoes and green beans. The potatoes are cooked to perfection with the soft, yet crunchy texture: A characteristic the green beans share as well. The combination of these three foods creates the perfect casual, yet classy meal.

The overall impression of the meals is that the plate presentations are appealing, and the food itself is phenomenal. It is clear that a lot of thought goes into the creation of each dish, and all of the meals highlighted here are artfully put together with attention paid to each flavor in the dish.

Bistro 197, located at 197 W. First St., is owned by Dr. Dean Crawford, professor of accounting at Oswego State.