Cameron’s American Bistro

Signs of subtlety aren’t found on the menu at most of Cameron Mitchell’s restaurants.  The locally based chain’s establishments are known for their large portions and bold flavors.  This holds true at the group’s first restaurant, Cameron’s American Bistro.

The Bistro – originally called Cameron’s Contemporary American Cuisine – serves well-designed dishes from New England, the South, the Southwest, California, and the good old Midwest.

My favorites included a tasty appetizer of baked flatbreads made with a touch of earthy fragrant truffle oil and topped with prosciutto, caramelized onion, bits of potato and creamy mascarpone cheese.  The flatbread was a good appetizer to share, as was a pile of buttermilk fried calamari.  Buttermilk has enzymes that are useful in breaking down meats such as chicken, but with the calamari, the buttermilk adds a slightly tangy flavor to the crisp breading.  The squid came with a spicy Creole tartar sauce and hot chili pepper jam, but I thought it tasted best just touched with lemon. 

The tasty house salad was mixed greens, Roma tomatoes, onions, shredded carrots and crumbled Gorgonzola in a mustard-balsamic vinaigrette.  Better was the warm goat cheese salad of field greens, bits of crisp pancetta and a scattering of dried cherries in a port wine vinaigrette accompanied by a disk of goat cheese crusted with pine nuts.

One thing you won’t find is spa cooking.  For example, the Parker House Cod sported a buttery rich cracker crust and came with buttery garlic mashed potatoes, and shallot cream sauce.  Yummy, if not healthful.  If you’re watching your fat intake, you’ll just have to stick with a salad or ask that your fish or steak come unadorned. 

There were decent steaks and fresh fish.  The roasted duck in a honey and chili glaze, which has been on the menu for a while, was well worth ordering.  And while entrees may seem somewhat pricey (several are close to $25), they’re actually a good value since they come with a starch and often two or more vegetables. 

The plentiful desserts, such as the one with peaches, streusel topping and vanilla ice cream, are best described as formidable.