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.
Incredible food and atmosphere! – Wow. This place was incredible! West 6th street, super swanky. The place has a great upscale but down to earth vibe. My friends and I went there Valentine's night and all the tables were booked but we walked in hoping for luck and, what do you know, we sat immediately at the bar and got served! Even better than sitting at a table! Our bartender/waitress Summer was awesome. Knowledgeable, super sweet. I began by sharing the cheese plate which came with wine soaked goat cheese, two types of blue cheese, manchego, and brie, crackers, grapes and prosciutto wrapped almond stuffed dates (oh my god!). It was an incredible beginning to the evening. Superseded only by our main entree: Steak Frites. The tenderloin was cooked medium, it was absolute perfection. The fries were thin cut, not greasy at all. It all came with a demi-glace which we poured over the fries... we were basically licking the plate. I cannot even put into words here how incredible everything was. The service, the ambiance, the food, the quality. The food was absolutely incredible. Flavorful... just perfection. I would without a doubt recommend this place and go back here in a heartbeat to try their other dishes.
Cocktails: Made with real fruit? What an idea! (I didn't drink all these myself!)
# Vespa - Kind of sweet and mellow, really nice. Made with pear vodka, gin, peach juice...
# Lagniappe - Needed to add a bit more raspberry puree to it because it was too strong for my tastes, but then it was delicious. At the bottom of my glass were all my crushed raspberries! Yum yum! Made with raspberries, lime, basil... vodka? or gin I think?
# Rockstar Martini
# Redlight Martini - Think this was the one which was just pomegranate juice and vodka, it was surprisingly delicious, the best cocktail of the night!
# Something with mango? Literally had mango puree coming up the straw, which was awesome, but it was made with bourbon, which I don't like.
go, go, go -you will not regret it. – They do not serve chicken fried steak at Bess....Thank God.
In a word my meal was "YUMMY". My husband and I had a most excellent meal last night at Bess. We called ahead and learned they had availability so we headed downtown for a romantic dinner. Our server Micheal was knowledgeable, personable,and made our dining experience beyond expectation. The background music was groovy and and really complimented the cozy atmosphere- it was nice to be able to hear the music instead of the typical silence at other local joints. I am 90% vegetarian-only eat meat 10% of the time...so when I do eat meat I have high expectations. Ordered the $32.00 steak on a duck pate cosini (sp?) topped with mushrooms and I think a red reduction sauce- whatever -it was amazingly tasty- with a side of asparagus- again yummy. I am not a food snob but I am a wine snob - ordered the Argentina Malbec..that's right... Yummy...so.... I ordered a second glass. My husband chose the steak frits commenting - it was one of the best steaks in Austin. Both steaks arrived as we ordered and did not arrive over cooked. He let me taste his salad-walnut ,blueberry, herbs, field greens...smackalious!!!! I offered to let him taste my steak but he declined and I was glad- yes, it will make the generous into non sharers. It's that good.
It wasn't my first time - but I hadn't eaten at Bess since they opened, had a couple glasses of wine at the bar maybe a year ago. The bar is fun, the staff great (looked real hard for snobs but couldn't find any), the food is 1000% better than when they first opened-
Oh, on portion size...your doctor will love the portions....if you need more food then what's served at this bistro you might have other issues(Hint: starts with G and is one of the seven deadly sins). However, the local Real Ale beer does come in a big portion- A nice big cold pint of...you got it....yum.
So Micheal, if your reading this "thanks man" for your awesomeness-consider us your new regulars .
GREAT LITTLE HIDDEN CHARM DOWNTOWN – MY FAMILY AND I ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR NEW PLACES TO TRY. I WAS VERY EXCITED TO GO TO BESS, AS IT WAS A LAST MINUTE IDEA. I THOUGHT ALMOST EVERYTHING WAS JUST AWESOME. I LOVE WHATEVER THEY DO TO THE KETCHUP TO MAKE IT "SMOKEY". THE CHICKEN, AH, JUST OK. SCALLOPED POTATOES, HOLY MOLY. AMAZING. AND THE DESSERT, WAS TO DIE FOR. ALSO, GREAT DRINKS AND A GOOD BEER SELECTION. WE'LL DEFINITELY BE GOING BACK.
Best Coffee, Cute resturant, inconsistant food = Disappointed... – The first time we went to Bess it was fantastic! The second time was kind of a disappointment. The coffee is always spot on good though. My husband and I both ordered the larger brunch that comes with pancakes. The first time he got it was FABULOUS! and he ate every last bite....This last time was terrible. We ordered fries instead of grits. Everything just seemed overly salted, the fries, the bacon, the assuage wasn't smoked like last time. Even the pancakes were half the size as before, both of us didn't even bother trying to finish it off. I really wish it would have been better, I doubt we'll come here a third time...unless I just want a cup o joe.
Lazy Service and overpriced food – Horrible experience, waitress was rude and the food was really not that good. Way overpriced vs. quality, I would try Z-Tejas or Ranch 616, they are much better than this tiny place.
Great service, comfort food, and atmosphere! – I had read so many differing reviews on Bess Bistro that I did not know what to expect. I live in New York City, but was in Texas visiting, so we made a special trip to Austin to go to Bess.
I was not disappointed. I really loved the decor, and the attention to detail. It was very comforting and soothing. I rarely go to a restaurant where I really love the bathrooms, but I would not mind having a bathroom that looks like that myself. I got to check out the aromas of the Bessence candles, of which there was one in the bathroom as well. The bathroom actually smelled great. I did not purchase them at this time but plan to down the road.
I also liked the fact that the tables had been designed from repurposed materials. There was also a lovely fish tank with some pretty, colorful fish.
The restaurant was not crowded as we were there on a Saturday afternoon during a holiday weekend. The service was friendly and impeccable. I ordered the semolina crusted artichoke hearts with the fried spinach and that was really good, plus the dipping sauce was excellent. I had never had spinach like that before and it was creative as well as rich in flavor. I also had the cobb salad and it was tasty, plus a very generous portion.
For dessert, I had the Tres Leches cake which I felt they did a good job with. I had coffee to drink and the coffee was a rich, dark blend that really tasted good, and my cup was kept full the whole time. The water glasses were as well and the filtered water really makes a difference in the taste.
For all of that food, my bill was well under $30 minus the tip, and we ordered from the dinner menu, so I would have to say it was not overpriced for the quality and the amounts of food we were served.
For me, Bess Bistro was all that I hoped it would be, and as far as the atmosphere and decor, a little bit more. I recommend giving it a chance with an open mind.
Great food, wonderful service and nice ambience – We recently dined at Bess and had a great experience. I was a little skeptical after reading reviews but it seems like the staff at Bess have really stepped up their game. The service was impeccable - our hostess was courteous, our server couldn't have been more friendly and attentive and our drinks were always full. The food was fabulous as well. I started with the herb salad, which was okay. It was a little too herby for my taste but it stil had a nice flavor. I ordered the shepherd's pie and my husband got the lambchops with mac and cheese. The shepherd's pie was very flavorful and my husband really enjoyed the lambchops. My favorite, however, was the mac and cheese. It was a-mazing! We got bread pudding for dessert, which was also heavenly. We will definitely be coming back to Bess!
When they say 21 and over they mean it! Rude. – My husband and I were not aware of the 21+ policy when we wandered through the doors at lunchtime with our little ones in tow. The place was empty. The hostess looked at us with a panicky, confused look, but we didn't know why until a guy, maybe a bartender?, practically RAN over and told us, a little more forcefully than necessary, `Kids aren't allowed. You have to be 21 or over.' We headed for the door and he *repeated* this. I felt like we were practically being thrown out, felt like we had done something offensive. I understand, no kids, but maybe be nice about it? smile rather than bark? On a night when we have a sitter for the kids, you can bet I won't be spending my money here.
We love this place – My wife and I go to Bess about once or twice a month since it has opened and have never been disppointed. Through going there so often we have made some friends with the staff and it irriatates me the way some of these reviews are written. I think some people need to let go of the fact that the restaurant is owned by a celeb and just judge it on the food. Most of the reviews I read say they didn't like the food, but mention nothing about it and just trash the fact that this "bistro" not "fine dining" establishment is owned by someone who is in the movies. The food is great and there is not a bit of pretention to it. Just try the mussels or the sweetbreads for an app! They had just changed the menu the last time we went and we were blown away, not many places in this town are doing skate, sweetbreads, and game hen (which i had and was amazing), that are affordable and good. Don't worry Bess, we will keep coming back!
AVOID THIS PLACE AT ALL COSTS--Terrible food for the money and SUBPAR service---read below – I am a fourth generation Austinite who has frequented many fine dining estabilishments in the city of Austin. I am not easily star-struck & especially after having dined at this so-called-fine-dining establishment I am in the least impressed by by Sandra Bullock & her chosen staff & cuisine of this restaurant. Save your money & time please. I have never been so insulted about making a reservation for a dinner party. We had made a dinner reservation 3 weeks in advance for a party of 15 guaranteeing that we would be there & the young woman taking down the reservation created an unncecessary sense of alarm regarding being on time for the reservation, unless it would be given away promptly. On the day of the dinner party we were harassed with repeated phone calls assuring that we would be there promptly at 615pm otherwise the table would be given away promptly. The recipient of the call happened to be pregnant at the time & caused her undue stress. We frantically called everyone to make sure she arrived on or before 615pm only to find upon arrival that the restaurant was empty with a sheer paucity of patrons. At the door we were "greeted" by a valet steward who was preoccupied with a phone call involving his subsequent activities later in the night which one might refer to bluntly as his "booty call". Furthermore, we were criticized & patronized negatively by our very rude waitress who subsequently & wrongly overcharged us & then proceeded to insult & curse at us for her apparent mistake. After speaking with the management it was obvious to me that there was no remorse for the actions of all working in the restaurant nor any recourse for making amends regarding the suboptimal experience. Might I mention that all present are distinguished professionals worth millions with a great deal of influence. I have written a letter to this establishment reminding them of such & that every effort would be made to ensure than none attend this establishment.
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