A chef’s special of fish & chips at Le Bistro, the student-run restaurant at the Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center, is $8. (Ben Watanabe photo)

Student chefs dish out fine dining at Le Bistro

We were in luck. We didn’t have a reservation for the popular fish & chips day, but there were still several open tables.

My co-worker, Ben Watanabe, and I tried lunch last week at Le Bistro at the Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center in Everett. Though I’ve known of the student-run, fine-dining restaurant at the trade school for years, I had yet to go. Ben hadn’t been there either.

Students enrolled in Sno-Isle TECH’s culinary arts class learn what it’s like to work in a restaurant under the direction of a professional chef at Le Bistro.

The students do it all, from baking dinner rolls and cooking entrées to waiting on customers and washing dishes. They make as much of the menu as they can from scratch.

I ordered the chef’s daily special, a three-course meal of salmon chowder, fish & chips and a key lime cupcake, for $11. The chef’s specials are comprised of an $8 entrée and $3 dessert.

In addition to the chef’s specials, the bistro offers a number of made-to-order sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads available daily. The sandwiches and burgers come with your choice of soup or salad and your choice of French fries, onion rings or sweet potato fries. There are also vanilla and chocolate ice cream and sorbet for dessert every day.

The chowder, a hearty and creamy soup championed by chunks of maple-glazed salmon, was excellent. We enjoyed the soup to the last drop, while gleefully thinking of what was to come.

I don’t typically order fish & chips, but the chef’s special surpassed my expectations. These are not the same fish & chips you find at a seafood bar. Four cod fillets the size of chicken nuggets were paired with homemade tartar sauce and what I thought was barbecue sauce but was actually ketchup. It was so fresh, I didn’t recognize it. The French fries were just the way I like them — long, thin and not too salty.

Ben ordered a cheeseburger and sweet potato fries. His burger was topped with pepperjack cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, mustard and red onions for $6, plus sautéed mushrooms and onions for an extra 50 cents each.

“The burger was juicy and flavorful and, well, impressively large,” he said. “Getting sautéed mushrooms and onions was a bonus, and a major bargain at a JFK coin each.

“My one beef (as in quibble) was with the bun, which was not quite up to the challenge of staying together under the heft of everything it was tasked to hold. But a bit of mess is to be expected when devouring a big burger.”

He was very happy with his fries: “Sweet potato fries as an option always portend promise, and they delivered. They had the right amount of fried crunch — not to sound like Goldilocks — with the right amount of chew to them.”

With each delicious bite, we were amazed at just how fine the dining was and yet for such an inexpensive price. If not for Le Bistro, a fancy three-course meal for $11 in Snohomish County would be unheard of.

The fanciest of all was the key lime cupcake, served in a lake of crème anglaise and garnished with a candied lime slice. The frosted cake was perfectly sweet and tart at the same time.

We were equally impressed with the elegant table settings. Our cloth napkins were folded into roses and our plates were surrounded by a full accompaniment of silverware. (Though, admittedly, we were stumped as to which utensils to grab after finding the soup spoon.)

Our waitress was Meaghan Winters, a junior at Mariner High School. An aspiring restaurateur, she also works at the new Popeyes in Everett.

“Growing up, I always loved cooking,” Winters said. “I want to open my own restaurant with chef’s specials like Le Bistro. It will be classy like an Olive Garden but more fun like a Red Robin.”

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @sarabruestle.

Le Bistro at Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center

9001 Airport Road, Everett; 425-348-2220; http://snoisletech.com/le-bistro.

Hours: Lunch is served Tuesday – Friday from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. See chef’s daily specials for the month online.

Le Bistro is regularly booked for private parties of 25 minimum, 75 max.

Reservations recommended. Call 425-356-1709 or email knudsonjm@mukilteo.wednet.edu for reservations or to-go orders. Or fill out a form on the website.

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