Going bananas at Bistro 920

A lunch trip turned brunch trip results in a couple of slips, but winning flavours make Bistro 920 an appealing brunch spot.

Firm and fantastic banana bread French toast, sans walnuts.
Firm and fantastic banana bread French toast, sans walnuts.

It's Saturday afternoon, I'm on Portland Street, so what is there to do but go to one of those little restaurants stuck in one of the thousand strip malls that make up this part of Dartmouth?

Formerly the Colby Ale House, Bistro 920's newly revamped menu features classic fare like pasta, sandwiches and thin crust pizzas.

It's a nice restaurant. The decor is modern and attractive, but lacks any real personality. The walls are a bright terra cotta with factory-made prints and wall hangings you'd find at the nearest Winners. The bar, which has a television glowing over each end, has a stonework front, and comfortable looking stools. More comfy tables and booths fill out the rest of the dining room. It could basically be the number one Google search result for "what should a nice restaurant look like?"

One thing that doesn't make us happy at first glance is the brunch menu. We'd checked the menu online and nothing on the website suggests that there's only a brunch menu on Saturdays. In fact, there's no brunch menu online, and the only mention of brunch is a note listed for Sunday. So we are disappointed when we learn that our only options are from an egg-y brunch menu.

Inaccurate restaurant websites are incredibly annoying, but my companion forgives pretty quickly when she spots the banana bread French toast ($11). I opt for the least breakfast-y item, the seafood crepe ($14). We each get a coffee ($1.50), which turns out to be a decent, charred-tasting dark roast.

Pop music struggles over the deep hum of air conditioning. Other than that it's very quiet: there is only one other table and they leave while we're waiting for our food. The only other person in the restaurant, aside from the server, appears to be another staff person, sitting quietly at the bar. The double ding of a pat bell when food is ready practically peals through the dining room.

The banana bread French toast is fantastic. The banana bread is very moist, and makes for a heavier, firmer French toast than regular bread. A scattering of caramelized bananas adds another depth to the sweetness of the maple syrup, which is really nice. The menu had promised candied walnuts, but they are missing from the plate, which is a real shame as the crumbly, crunchy texture would have brought this already scrumptious breakfast to another level. Our server promises to mention the neglect to the chef.

The seafood crepe isn't quite as winning as the French toast. The flavours are pretty much on point---the curry is fragrant and has a nice bite of spiciness to it, the salmon and white fish is still tender and flaky, and the addition of celery, onion and spinach brings a roundness of flavour and good texture---but there's too much sauce so the crepes are soggy, bordering on gloppy. The potato hash on the side makes up for the lacklustre crepe. Fat potato wedges, tender on the inside with a little bit of crisp caramel on the edges, have been fried up, with bacon and onion and the result is wonderful. A ramekin of fruit salad served on the side offers a touch of sweetness, which balances the plate.

Our server mentions that the dessert special is a banana bread pudding. The French toast was so good that I can't resist. Two wedges of moist bread pudding, pebbled with bits of bittersweet chocolate and covered with caramel sauce, this is a seriously great dessert.

Things are a little uneven at Bistro 920, but this is a decent spot and a nice option around Cole Harbour, for sure.

Bistro 920

920 Cole Harbour Road,

Mon, 11am-9pm; Tue-Wed, 11am-10pm; Thu-Sat 11am-12am; Sun 10am-3pm

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