Joint called 520 Bar & Grill, opened last week in Old Bellevue (nothing to do with the bridge) has already perfected the art of removing flavor from food. Used to be, only low-end places like Olive Garden had figured this out. Bistro Romain chain in France, too, where you stuff yourself silly because your brain doesn't get any signals of satisfaction.
520's menu talks about big-flavored "social plates" and fresh, hearty neighborhood favorites made for sharing. So we take over a fourtop and dig in. Yikes, what a disappointment! Tasteless coconut prawns in an uninspired mango-papaya salsa ($14); Caesar salad ($9) without character, but with a side of salty fries ($2); bland CHAOS salad ($9, supposed to be chicken, avocado and mandarin orange) doused with unsweet honey-poppy seed dressing; chicken marsala ($14) in a sauce that lacked any evidence of marsala; and filet gorgonzola ($16) of unseasoned beef, unseasoned spinach and mildly cheesy sauce. Chicken & beef both bear grill marks, yet remain virginally flavorless. Whoever's frying up those fries ought to do the right thing: at least share the saltshaker.
And this lack of zip doesn't come cheap. A couple of glasses of wine apiece, and the tab, by the time we tip the hapless waitress, is $200! Fifty bucks apiece for wine and apps! Do we feel stuffed? Hardly. Do we feel mellow? Uh, no.
The owners aren't foodies, as if you couldn't guess, but real estate people. On the other hand, Michael Degginger is the exec chef, formerly at Troiani, and ought to know better. Dude, put in an order for some spices, will ya, or else get a patent on that flavor-extracting process of yours.Posted by Ronald Holden at June 14, 2006 10:35 PM
The International Kitchen
Cooking school vacations in Italy, France & Spain.