Austin >Food & Dining > Bess Bistro
500 W Sixth St, Austin, TX | Directions 7870130.269475 -97.747507
Sandra Bullock's Austin eatery is an underground (literally) outfit that feels like an old French tavern. High-backed wooden booths complement the space's preserved brick arches and iron railings, and portions here are generous enough to split with your honey, Lady and the Tramp style. Demure eaters will like the Pan-Seared Scallops with pea risotto, while meat-spearing carnivores will be delighted by the "Steak Frites," a 10 oz. hanger steak served with parmesan-laced french fries.
Bess is less..than I thought it would be. – I dined with my family at Bess last night in celebration of Mother's Day. We had a reservation for 7 pm. In spite of the holiday -- for which Bess should have been prepared -- and the early hour, the restaurant was already out of several of the popular entrees and desserts. Worse, the two much touted dishes I ordered -- fried green tomatoes and macaroni and cheese -- were inadequate and/or uneatable. The tomatoes had no sauce to counteract their dryness and the macaroni was so salty that I couldn't eat it. The over-salting, according to other family members, characterized their dishes as well.
The noise, even that early, reached the I can't hear what you're saying level. I can only praise the valet parking and won't be going back.
Wish it had worked out better... – I've eaten at Bess several times -- each time we are impressed by the creativity of the food. The space is a bit cramped (your back will, undoubtedly, be against someone else during their peaks in service). That aside, I asked that a party be held there for an upcoming event. We are all professionals; I'm in my 30s. This was supposed to be an elegant night out with friends to celebrate my upcoming wedding.
First we had a reservation. Then, they lost it. (Their event coordinator, Natalie, actually accused us of "lying" about having made a reservation in the first place! Why would we do that?! And, who actually accuses customers of such things prior to some adult problem-solving? Perhaps its the teacher in me -- but I felt the whole thing was extremely childish!) Then, they said they could work it out with a base fee guarantee ($$) attached for the party. We thought it seemed quite high, but still were willing to make it work...now we're two days away from the event and, again, it looks like we will won't be holding our celebration at Bess due to changes made to our agreement by Natalie. We worked on this reservation for a week...
I think we're fine moving else where. I'm breathing a sigh of relief really -- I thought this would be a great idea...I feel bad I drug my friends through all the trouble. Truth be told, I'm disappointed that such a bad taste will be left with all my guests who I was, originally, so excited to share this venue with.
So, this is what I'll say: Bess Bistro is great for 1-4 guests on an off night. If you don't mind getting cozy with the stranger next to you - weekend evenings will still offer up creative and exciting food. Looking to book a special event? Skip it. Me? Unfortunately, I'm removing this venue from spots I frequent.
TERRIBLE SERVICE – My friends, family, and I had a terrible experience at Little Woodrows on 6th. They take forever to take your order and to bring you beers. It is smoky and dirty. And this isn't the worst of it. Our main complaint is that the manager was very rude to several people. They do not care about customer service here.
I recommend you try other beer bars with a warm, inviting atmosphere and staff. Try: The Gingerman, Opal Divine, or the Tavern. These places are phenomenal!
A Precious Gem in the heart of Austin! – My husband and I went to Bess Bistro for the first time last evening. We have lived in the Austin area for 6 years now and my only regret is that we did not discover this most charming establishment sooner. The atmosphere is as warm and cozy as it gets with an eclectic mix of wood, stone, gas lanterns and chandeliers. Each member of the staff was kind and attentive from the hostess to the waiter and to even the chef who personally came out to our table to make sure everything was just perfect! I had the STEAK FRITES and being that I am watching my waistline, I asked if they would substitute the fries for asparagus which they did without hesitation. The glaze on the ever so tender steak was out of this world with a hint of bleu cheese and mushrooms. My husband had the SHEPHERD'S PIE which he described as EXCELLENT, 2 THUMBS UP, very tasty and just the right amount of food. For desert my husband ordered the CHICORY BROWNIE, described on the menu as: "Chicory coffee infused fudge brownie with spiced pecan and bourbon ice cream with bittersweet chocolate sauce." Waistline or not, I had to have a bite, nay I say two!! It was an OMG moment for me! I must say, I didn't want to leave! And to top this all off, we didn't have to break the bank for this fabulous evening. It's my new favorite place and I am counting down the days till we get to go back. In my opinion, this is as good as it gets! A hearty "WELL DONE" to all at Bess Bistro!! We'll see you soon!!
Comfort food never tasted so good! – My heart may not be too healthy after my open faced egg sandwich but my lips and tongue were singing praises! What an amazing and cozy little place and thanks to Sandy Bullock and her family for passing down such delectable dishes. You must try the madame with a kir royale! MMMMM delish
Yummy food, but that's about it. – I went to Bess Bistro on Friday for an earlyish dinner. After reading a bunch of good and a bunch of very bad reviews, I wasn't sure what to expect, it sounds like the place is extremely hit-or-miss.
Well, when we got there (there were just two in our party), the two hostesses were a little condescending when they learned that we didn't have a reservation, but said we might sit at any of the tables in the bistro area, on the patio or in the bar. The dining room looked then, and for our entire meal, much more than half empty. We probably arrived at 6:45, and after waiting tables for a few years, I know the dinner rush in the summer doesn't start until at least 8 pm, so I was a little surprised that they didn't seat us in the dining room, but it didn't really matter. The patio is on the west side of the building, so is definitely not the best option in the Texas afternoon heat. We sat in the bistro. They took our drink orders and brought us bread promptly, which was no surprise since the place was empty. I ordered a salad to start with (herb salad or something? The one that claims it comes with seasonal berries), and my friend ordered a tomato-apricot (I think) starter that she said was very good. The greens and the salad dressing were fine, but that was about all there was to it. I expected berries (cranberries maybe) to be mixed into the salad, but there were just a few slices of strawberry, a few walnuts, and a stingy sprinkling of cheese. It was honestly 95% greens. Oh well. For the main entree, I ordered the roasted chicken, and it was delicious. The portion was large, I think it was fully half a bird - I took home the entire wing, so no complaint there. I also ordered the vodka iced tea arnold palmer drink; it tasted good, but seemed about a dollar overpriced for what it was (the vodka is only about half as strong as regular vodka).
Also, this was sort of weird: we sat in the bistro (basically extra tables in the entrance), right below the air conditioner, and there was condensation built up *directly* over the seats opposite the wall, and it was dripping onto my dinner companion. She mentioned it to the hostess/waitress, who basically shrugged, but then claimed that they wiped it off constantly throughout the evening (which she didn't even once).
The valet was very friendly, though!
It might be worth going once out of curiosity, and the food was pretty good, but I felt like the staff was a bit judgmental (did they recruit non-Austinites or something?), and a little snooty for what the place actually is. I give it a B-.
Classy and comfortable! – Bess Bistro is simple on the outside, but this bistro's interior has classy elegance, intimate lighting, comfortable booths, and interesting decor. It is high class crossed with comfort, romance, history, and of course a menu that will make your mouth water.
Dim lamps, candles, and chandeliers light the tables, booths, and bar. Throughout the bistro are columns of pale brick and booths lined with red leather. The music offers a pleasant balance between the buzz of conversation and the notes of upbeat tunes. And, unlike many downtown restaurants, this place has plenty of space between tables. The opposite of cramped, Bess Bistro offers breathing room and an open, inviting atmosphere.
The food is simultaneously comforting and light. While waiting for your meal, try one of their specialty cocktails or fresh appetizers.
A very so-so place – I went with my girlfriends for a late lunch. I ordered the lunch special, which was some sort of grilled fish, a portion of Tuna tartare, and a side of brussel sprouts. I am not joking when I say this... the side of brussel sprouts was TWO (yes, 2) brussel sprouts cut in half. That's right... 4 brussel sprout halves. The portions of fish were very small, but that did not disappoint me as much as the 2 brussel sprouts. What an insult. No self-respecting Southerner would call that a serving of vegetables!
The saving grace was that the waitress was very nice and attentive. Maybe it was because we chose to hit this restaurant at a slow time... I don't know.
Anyway, I would probably not visit Bess again.
Great hideaway especially for a late lunch. Staff friendly and tasty food! Reminds me of a NYC spot that I can always feel comfortable at.
I Didn’t Order Health damage! – Bess Bistro Austin, TX
I Didn’t Order Health Damage!
Bess Bistro gave us f00d p-0-i-s-0-n-i-n-g. My wife had a seafood dish that was recommended by the waitress and was up all night throwing up.
We call the restaurant the next day and Donnie insulted us by tell us (one PhD and two degrees in Chemistry / Biology) that it is impossible to have this in less than 24 hrs after you have eat. Sorry Donnie, I do not believe you came up with this on your own but your source is wrong. If we insisted we call speak to Mizael Saucedo, chef and general manager of Bess Bistro but that took three days of phone tag. When we spoke the Mizael and explained everything he thought is would be difficult to be sick from the seafood since it is delivered fresh every Saturday. This explains everything, we ate there on Friday night! He was apologetic and offer to mail us something for compensation but never did. We called back two weeks later and told him that we never received anything and he claimed he sent a $50 gift certificate. I explain nothing was received so he swore that he would send another one himself the next morning for $50 and if the other $50 showed up we could keep both of them for all of the pain, suffering and frustration that Bess Bistro has caused. Over a week later still no sign of anything. These people have a nice spot in a nice building but do not have the ability to operate a business or be permitted to p-0-i-s-0-n the public.
Thomas | Apr 28, 2009
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