Tomboni’s Bistro is owned by Chef Chris Tomboni and his wife, Nan, who use their passion and culinary training to create a fine dining experience in a blue and white Craftsman bungalow set back from Judson Road.
In addition to their regular menu, they offer different weekly menus featuring appetizers, salads and entrees using food that is fresh and in season. Having an additional weekly menu is a concept other local restaurants could follow. It keeps regular diners coming back and excited about what new things they might be able to try while still enjoying their favorite restaurant.
When I dined at Tomboni’s, I brought friends along, so we could try many dishes. We all chose from the weekly specials. For appetizers, we had the Flatbread with roasted zucchini, mixed peppers, baby portabella mushrooms, vine ripe tomatoes and mozzarella on a garlic olive oil crust, and Crayfish Oyster Fritter with saffron aioli. From the salads, we ordered the Baby Greens with grilled peach halves, goat cheese, caramelized pecans and peach vinaigrette.
Dinner selections included:
Seared Wild Caught Salmon Fillet stuffed with wild caught gulf shrimp, roasted poblano pepper and Jack cheese with cilantro lime pesto; brown rice with pecans; and ratatouille.
The Pan Seared Black Angus Beef Tenderloin, 8-ounce cut; merlot sauce paired with parmesan potato crown and ratatouille;
Seared New Zealand Half Rack of Lamb with lavender honey, herbed couscous and ratatouille; and
Pork Tenderloin stuffed with spinach, Manchego cheese, pine nuts and serrano peppers with fig marsala sauce, served with herbed couscous and ratatouille.
The way Chef Tomboni complemented the main meat or fish with just the right sauce, vegetables and starch was spot on. The couscous was never dry or overly wet with sauce, and the sauces were just enough to complement the meal but not overpower it. The flavors were multilayered, which is an art in itself.
I almost always choose the crème brulee for desert — I think it’s a benchmark for any restaurant. Making crème brulee correctly is a fine art, and if done well it is a perfect finish to a great meal. Tomboni’s crème brulee was prepared correctly, although I normally expect it to have some berries served on top.
The atmosphere and dining experience at any restaurant cannot just be defined by the food and the presentation, even when both are wonderful. The whole dining experience includes the hostess, the server and if the meal is served in a timely manner. A delicious meal can oftentimes be ruined by poor service. Our server at Tomboni’s was excellent. She knew the menu well and made great suggestions. She also was knowledgeable enough in wines to make some great suggestions for us within different price ranges. She was attentive, and — this is very important — she knew when to leave us alone to enjoy our meal and conversation but was right there if we needed something.
If I were to criticize anything in the evening it was the preparation of the steak for one of my guests, who ordered steak well-done. The kitchen butterflied it, which is a method of cutting the steak in half to make sure it cooks all the way through. Traditionally, restaurant staff first should have asked the diner if he or she wanted to have it butterflied. This is a courtesy that was not extended to my guest, and he was not pleased with it being butterflied.
My rating for the overall dining experience at Tomboni’s is an A. Any issues with the steak were far outweighed by a very pleasant dining experience, experienced staff and nice atmosphere.