Bijou Restaurant and Bar in Hayward

by foodhoe on June 3, 2015

1036 B St Hayward, CA 

bijou

I live in one of the few places in the Bay Area which has somehow managed to remain insulated from the foodie revolution going on.   What, you ask?  How can this be?  Or better yet, where can this be?  I live in unincorporated San Leandro up in the foothills, where it intersects with Castro Valley and Hayward.  There are few restaurants of note, Paradiso in San Leandro and Neumanali in Hayward, which are fine but not very adventurous.  This is the suburbs where portion trumps quality and there are few who know who James Beard is let alone care…  I am hoping that perhaps this is beginning to change with the new Executive Chef Rodrigo Cedeño at Bijou restaurant in Hayward, where Mr. K and I went to dine as guests of the house last month.

Bijou dining room at night 1

We ate there when they opened back in 2008 (read about it here) and were glad to see something new and innovative in the neighborhood.  The word bijou means “a little gem” in French, and the swanky restaurant certainly sparkles on the still up and coming block.  Chef Rodrigo is a native of Hayward who graduated from Cal Poly Pomona’s Collins College of Hospitality Management, then went on to Vu Restaurant where he studied under Chef Kyle Schutte, (who is known for high-concept molecular gastronomy) and RN74 (with Chef Jason Berthold currently at Monsieur Benjamin) and was also sous chef in the restaurant at the Rolling Hills Country Club in San Pedro.  His style of cooking combines French and modern cuisine techniques with the flavors found in northern California’s abundant seasonal ingredients and offers new and unique flavor profiles with each dish.  Our server was enthusiastic about the menu and told us that the chef had planned a 7 course tasting menu for us!  We began our meal with a dish of fresh crusty bread served with a flavorful olive oil dip that we tried not to fill up on.

bijou_bread

She brought Mr. K a Monk Manhattan ($11) made with Bulliet Bourbon, Benedictine, Carpano Antica, Luxardo, Angostura Bitters, black walnut bitters and a glass of wine for me.  Just an fyi, since we had the chef’s tasting menu, the portions we were served are different from the regular dishes off the menu…

bijou_cocktail

We began the meal with Spicy Ahi Tartare ($12), which was served with shards of fried won-ton.  The fish was fresh and flavorful with the classic flavors of soy, sesame oil, sugar and garlic, and the paper thin slices of pungent radish and cilantro added vibrant colors and fresh aroma.

bijou_tartare

The fried wonton skins were thin and crispy and provided an excellent base for the savory mixture of ahi tuna.

bijou_tuna_chip

We both really enjoyed the Butternut Squash Risotto ($7), which was simple and clean tasting.  It wasn’t the most attractive dish but I loved the rich texture and flavors from brown butter and parmigiano reggiano.  Each bite was lip smacking good and satisfying.

bijou_risotto

Next was Crispy pork belly, with a cube of root beer, mint & cilantro anglaise  ($12).  The nugget of pork had a nice chewy crisp fried crust, and the flavors were compelling and interesting.  The cube of root beer echoed the shape of the pork and it all combined surprisingly well with the rich creamy sauce.

bijou_porkbelly

One of my favorite dishes was the Pork Tenderloin ($18)  served with apricot, chayote, house-made queso fresco, ferro verde, and savory chocolate mole.  Our server pointed out to us that chayote is like the baby resulting from the union of potato and cucumber.  The flavors were rich and excellent, the meat was succulent and tender.  That mole was tasty and so good with the fluffy cheese!

bijou_porktenderloin

Seared Diver Scallops ($19) with blistered grapes, pea tendril, sautéed squash, crab brandade, pan jus.  The scallops had a wonderfully seared crust but the flesh was tender and velvety inside.  The rich flavors were complimented with the fresh spring vegetables, juicy grapes and I couldn’t stop eating the opulent whipped potatoes.

bijou_scallop

The desserts were excellent, I loved the fresh flavors of the Lemon Poppy Seed Curd ($7), it was like a cloud topped with Citrus merengue, Grand Marnier infused blackberries, and brown butter streusel.

bijou_lemoncurd

But the Tequila & Chocolate ($7) was the star of the meal.  The plate was generously smeared with dark chocolate ganache, upon which were strewn cubes of tequila jello, fresh cilantro, and segments of carbonated citrus supreme.  Finger jello always reminds me of childhood, but the tequila flavor was anything but and the carbonated citrus fizzed like fun and was especially good dragged through the rich chocolate. The cilantro added an unusual fresh herbal flavor and each bite demands your attention.

bijou_chocolate_tequila

We enjoyed meeting Chef Rodrigo, who served us our desserts and stopped to chat with us.  He joined the restaurant earlier this year and we found him to be down to earth and charming.  He is eager to introduce his modern and fresh cuisine to Hayward, an effort that we welcome with high fives.  We will go back to check out the seasonally changing menu and to support the Bijou experience and while we’re at it, here’s a groupon deal online that is available now.

bijou_bar

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

grace June 4, 2015 at 8:10 am

i’ve never seen a poppy seed custard! yum!

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