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Food & Drink

Hello Bistro offers healthy choices and familiar favorites

| Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Hello Bistro chef Regis Holden with the Caribbean Shrimp Salad and the Cider-Glazed Onion Cheeseburger at the South Side location.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Hello Bistro chef Regis Holden with the Caribbean Shrimp Salad and the Cider-Glazed Onion Cheeseburger at the South Side location.

When Eat'n Park officials decided to create a new restaurant concept, they wanted to take some of the best components of the longtime local family restaurant, “tweak it and make it better,” says Regis Holden, corporate chef for Eat'n Park restaurants.

“Everyone knows Eat'n Park's salad bar. We blew it out of the water,” Holden says of the new restaurant concept, Hello Bistro, which has two outlets, in Oakland and the South Side.

Another of Eat'n Park's signature dishes is the hamburger. Add to that hand-cut, never-frozen french fries, a variety of salads and modernized interiors.

That's Hello Bistro, which Becky McArdle, a spokeswoman for Eat'n Park, calls “Eat'n Park's sassy cousin.” She says Hello Bistro offers “the things people like about Eat'n Park, in a different format.” The Oakland bistro opened in 2011; the South Side location opened June 9.

“Hello Bistro is really an equalizer,” says Mike Corrigan, a district manager for Eat'n Park's specialty restaurants. “You can eat light, have a burger, have a beer.”

As for the burgers, “We give (customers) a lot of options,” including ground beef, turkey and veggie burgers, which range from $5 to $6.50. And, Corrigan says, Hello Bistro can accommodate customers with food allergies by offering gluten-free buns, tofu dishes and other dietary options. Diners asked for quinoa and avocado, so Hello Bistro now offers those ingredients, too.

Customers can choose from a variety of salads the corporation calls “delicious masterpieces,” which are combinations the culinary staff have created. Those range from Thai Peanut Salmon Salad, with peanuts and Thai peanut dressing; to Black & Bleu with seared flank steak and crumbled bleu cheese; to Chicken Fiesta, with tortilla strips, lime vinaigrette and fiesta-seasoned chicken. The salads range from $7 to $9, but customers can ask staffers to create their own combinations for $7.50.

Thus, both carnivores and herbivores can dine out — together — at Hello Bistro.

In addition to the salads and burgers, Hello Bistro offers breakfast sandwiches, including the All-American Scrambler on a bagel and Texas Scrambler, with an egg, American cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato on Italian bread. The breakfast sandwiches are $4.

Other sandwiches include Apple & Cheddar Grilled Cheese for $4.

Both Hello Bistros have modernized interiors, with pendant lights over the salad bars and geometric upholstery. The South Side location has exposed brick walls that are original to the building and were discovered during renovations. The contractor was willing to incorporate them into the design, which includes hardwood floors and navy-blue chairs.

Chef Holden, 52, of North Huntingdon, Westmoreland County, is a certified culinary administrator and certified executive chef. He began his culinary career in his parents' former restaurant, Holden's and Hall's Pub, in Manor, Westmoreland County. After three years of high-school vocational culinary school, he worked at Seven Springs and did a chef's apprenticeship at the old Ben Gross supper club, then worked at other restaurants until he joined Eat'n Park.

Now, he supervises 71 Eat'n Park restaurants and the two Hello Bistros. A third Hello Bistro is slated to open later this year on Wood Street near Market Square. Holden points out that Hello Bistro's American Grill Burger on Italian bread with grilled peppers and mushrooms was one that his mother developed years ago and placed on Holden's and Hall's menu as the Pub Burger. Holden says he won a medal with it at a National Hamburger Festival.

“I love burgers,” Holden says.

Sandra Fischione Donovan is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

Hello Bistro's Cider-Glazed Onion Cheeseburger

Chef Regis Holden, corporate chef for Hello Bistro and Eat'n Park restaurants, calls the Cider-Glazed Onion Cheeseburger “comfort food” ideal for cold January evenings. The cider has a sweet tang that balances the zip of the onions. The burger, which the culinary staff developed, joined Hello Bistro's new menu on Jan. 2.

“I was really passionate about this (burger) because of the onions,” Holden says. “It had that warm feeling. The mayonnaise and Dijon mustard played well together.”

Holden says the secret to a juicy burger is covering the burger and making sure the meat juices run clear. Then the burger is finished cooking. He cautions against cooking until there are no juices at all.

1 hamburger patty


1 kaiser bun

14 teaspoon seasoning (such as Lawry's)

2 ounces cider-glazed onions (see recipe below)

1 slice cheddar cheese

12 ounce Dijon mustard

12 ounce mayonnaise

12 ounce spring mix

�Season the grill. Avoiding direct hand contact, place the patty on the grill and press to 12 inch; cook until it is about 60 percent complete.

Butter and grill the bun until golden-brown.

Turn the burger over on the grill and season the second side. Finish cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees for 15 seconds.

Dress the bottom bun with mustard, mayonnaise and spring mix.

Place the onions on the grill for 30 seconds to heat, then place them on top of the patty. Place the cheese on the onions, and when the cheese is partially melted, set the patty on the bottom bun. Arrange top of bun, grilled side down.

Makes 1 serving.

Cider-Glazed Onions

4 large onions

14 cup oil

1 cup apple cider

Slice the onions in 14-inch rings. Sautee the rings in the oil over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the apple cider and simmer for 5 minutes, until the cider evaporates and the onions are glazed.

Note: The onions can be kept in the refrigerator for 4 days.

Makes about 4 servings.

Caribbean Shrimp Salad

For diners looking for something light after weeks of holiday meals, chef Regis Holden offers Hello Bistro's Caribbean Shrimp Salad, a chopped salad dressed with fresh-tasting lime vinaigrette dressing. The salad is the No. 1 seller at Hello Bistro. Holden says chopping the salad “really helps the flavors marry.” The cumin, cilantro and lime juice in the dressing give the salad a fresh pop of flavor.

12 cups iceberg lettuce

1 12 cups romaine lettuce

2 ounces cayenne shrimp (9 each)

12 avocado, diced

1 ounce diced tomatoes

1 ounce black beans

1 ounce roasted corn

1 tablespoon tortilla strips

2 ounces lime vinaigrette dressing (see recipe)

Place the lettuces in the serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the dressing. Turn the salad out onto a cutting board and chop. Place the salad in a stainless steel bowl, add the dressing and toss. Return the salad to the serving bowl.

Makes 1 serving.

Lime Vinaigrette

14 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

12 teaspoon salt

14 teaspoon cumin

12 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

14 cup olive oil

14 cup canola oil

Combine the lime juice, honey, onion, cilantro, garlic, salt, cumin, pepper and sugar in a blender. If you do not have a blender, place them in a jar and shake vigorously.

In a slow stream while the blender is running, add olive and canola oils. If you are using the jar method, add the oils and again shake vigorously. Mix or shake until all of the ingredients are completely blended and the dressing thickens.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

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