Randy's Bistro Al Cohen's Plaza, Raphune Hill.
Dinner Mon.-Sun. 5-10:30 p.m.
Late-night menu Mon.-Fri. 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m.
Lunch Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
European, American, seafood. $/$$. Cards: MC, V, AX.
777-3199 or 775-5001.
A "bistro" is defined as "a small wine shop or restaurant where wine is served." Randy's is all of the above. He has taken a large square room and mixed wine racks, restaurant and kitchen in a pleasing array.
In the adjoining module, he has a full bar, unisex toilet and some additional seats for bar or restaurant use. In fact, the night I visited, all areas were being used by patrons enjoying their food and drinks.
The environment was most pleasant, not too cold, but enough A/C to handle the full room of warm bodies and any other BTU producers. The toilet was clean, all the fixtures worked. The seats were most comfortable and encouraged one to sit, relax, eat and enjoy the company of whomever. While it was a bit dark to read the menu, there was a candle provided each table.
For an appetizer I tried the mussels. In a wine sauce, of course, since it is a bistro. While Randy's mussel dish cannot compete with my favorite from far off Terrigal, Australia, where an appetizer of mussels in garlic cream sauce made me totally forget my main course. The mussels were nice and plump, and the liquor cried out for bread to soak. Almost a meal, and surely a most palate-pleasing appetizer.
The bread was nice and hot with a good crust, but obviously cut with a butcher knife. I would suggest it be served as a baguette for the customer to tear according to their desire. The accompanying olive oil dressing was excellent with a hint of garlic and pepper.
Those who like to soak oil and sauces such as the succulent wine/muscle broth would appreciate a bit more substance in the bread. Those who are crust freaks will be most satisfied.
My main course was pasta with Italian sausage. The penne was firm, yet thoroughly cooked — just the right vehicle for the sauce. The sauce was thick and rich with, for me, just the right mix of herbs to produce a most enjoyable flavor without causing my stomach any problems. The sausage, unfortunately, left something to be desired.
Randy has chosen to go the lean and mean, dietician/cardiologist route on the sausage. While the slices are OK, and there is a hint of flavor, the meat comes off like a flavored hunk of sawdust. I am sure someone into food to fill spaces would rave on the combination, but down and dirty dining hearty Italian it isn't.
The service was according to one's expectations. Personally, I rate a restaurant on the wait staff's ability to fulfill my desires, not theirs. It really is not hard to start a check for every couple and any lazy cretin who assumes one check for a party of three couples and a single is obviously a lazy cretin in my book.
Another primary is water. As a Westerner, I was brought up on branch water. If a restaurant cannot give me safe water from the tap and forces me to purchase bottled water, I must question the ice, the cleanliness of the dishes and possible E. coli on the salad makings.
Finally, there is the matter of the tip. It is my discretion to tip, not management's. I really did not care to pay 15% on a pumped-up bill due to the waiter's refusal to bring me safe water. The one item, which he did score on, was attention. The waiter was punctual and quick with the food and clearing used dishes.
The dessert I tried was the brownie with ice cream. Excellent. An honest-to-gosh moist brownie with killer flavor, and an ice cream which did not melt to foam. A most fitting finale to a meal.
Randy's at Al Cohen's Mall is a participant in the Rotary East Dine Out program. If you don't already have a book, you are encouraged to get one from any Rotary East member or Color of Joy at American Yacht Charter, Red Hook. This fine dining program introduces you to some of the better restaurants on St. Thomas during the summer months allowing for a free second entree, drink or dessert, depending on the establishment. (See St.Thomas Source/ Community/ Organizations)
In summary, Randy's Bistro is an excellent place to eat and drink as it has a good location, safe parking, a most pleasant environment and an adaptable mix of eating areas. The food can be excellent, and the service can be very good. I will definitely keep it on my list; however, if I eat there again, the waiter will work on my terms.
Editors' note: We are using a pseudonym so that restaurateurs will not be able to identify the reviewer and try to influence the review.
RANDY'S BISTRO: A FEEL -GOOD PLACE
Randy's Bistro Al Cohen's Plaza, Raphune Hill.
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