Evo Bistro has changed since its first years of operation.
First, it is more than double the original size, which obviously means more seating, less waiting time, and, oddly enough, less noise. That doesn't mean it is any less boisterous and energetic, simply that it is easier to hold a conversation.
And second, as of late last year, it has a new chef and a new menu. Small plates, or tapas, are still the mainstay of the menu, but by dinner some of the lunch tapas have graduated to the entree side of the menu, and the abbreviated number of tapas are listed among the soups, salads and vegetables.
The lure of wine remains strong. With a varied list of some 50 wines available by the glass, Evo Bistro also has an "enomatic" machine, which allows a bottle to be opened and the wine sampled without fear of oxidation. This gives an opportunity to taste before deciding. By pressing a button, you can sample any of the wines offered as your tab runs up on a debit card.
The $25 lunch special — either one tapa and one entree plus dessert or three tapas plus dessert — is a bargain. The list of tapas is intriguing enough, with or without wine, to invite return visits just to try more of them, complicated by the fact you may end up reordering favorites.
A case in point is the irresistible trio of grilled marinated baby artichoke halves topped with squiggles of jalapeno aioli, just enough for an interesting jolt, nothing more, though these delicious morsels present slight dilemma: knife and fork or finger food?
The ceviche and endive also offer a how-to-eat challenge. Presumably the well seasoned bits of tilapia seasoned with lime, chili, red onion and cilantro are meant to be spooned into the endive leaves, then eaten. This is a somewhat messy process that requires an extra napkin or two, a small price to pay for the tasty combination.
Among the other tapas standouts are mussels sautéed in white wine and olive oil with tomato, garlic, basil and oregano and a scattering of chili flakes and feta; a gluten free three cheese "tortilla," a crust-less quiche-like omelet with potato and manchego, parmesan and provolone cheeses; and a fried, breaded Portobello mushroom stuffed with goat cheese and basil.
Many of the entrees seem equally adventurous: spicy soft shell crab with pickled green tomato panzanella and mint yogurt; pan seared foie gras with cherry rosemary compote; caramelized onion and spinach ravioli with rock shrimp, leeks and buerre monte; and porcini dusted tenderloin with blue cheese potato gratin and sautéed spinach, among others.
Should you need help deciding which wine to order, Evo Bistro is one step ahead of you, with suggested pairings for each dish. Because of the evacomatic machine, you can also do your own mixing and matching before making a decision, or even just to try something different with each dish. A debit card keeps track of your tab (and it can mount up!). Evo Bistro also has a wine store, so you can buy your favorites to take home.
Unlike the wine list, the dessert list is modest, highlighted by a well-balanced and sinfully delicious tiramisu and seasonal versions (recently pumpkin) of cheesecake and Crème Brule.