MI Restaurant Review: Vivienne’s Bistro

Taylor Holshouser, Senior Staff Writer

Following the closure of The Islander, an American food restaurant and bar, Vivienne’s Bistro opened in its place on Saturday, Feb. 5., and is bringing unique, deep flavors rich with spices and technique to Mercer Island. 

I went to the restaurant excited not only to observe the changed atmosphere, but also to try some of the restaurant’s signature dishes and most highly recommended sides. Upon being seated, I scoured through the lengthy menu and decided to order: spicy wontons, grilled tofu and one of the chef specialties: slow-braised beef short ribs. 

Starting off the evening with the spicy wontons was perfect. Although they came dressed in the delicious chili oil, they maintained a lighter feel because of the cilantro placed on top of the wontons, along with the undeniable freshness of the meat encased by the wonton wrapper. The wontons themselves were incredible, bursting with flavor and oozing quality. After eating just one bite and tasting the deep flavors in the sauce, the time and work put into crafting this recipe were evident.

The grilled tofu didn’t stand out as much as the other food to me, but was still delicious. It was a little bit crispy and perfectly charred. The sweet chili sauce that was poured over top was amazing and perfectly paired with the grilled tofu and the green onions that garnished it. This small dish was only $4.50 but could easily be more because of the incredible taste and delicate preparation.

Last came the slow-braised beef short ribs that the waiter was especially excited about me ordering. With just one gentle poke of the meat, it fell off the bone. It was tender and very unique with a deep flavor. The meat had clearly been cooked at a low temperature for a long time to achieve a tender texture and deep flavor. The balance of sweetness and savory umami taste was extraordinary. After trying the meat, I understood why it was one of the few “chef specialties” because it clearly stood out among the rest of the dishes I ordered. 

The experience of dining in Vivienne’s Bistro was great. The positive environment and friendly, enthusiastic staff made the dining experience one of a kind. If you are looking for a restaurant to have a nice dinner with family or friends on Mercer Island, I would definitely recommend checking out Vivienne’s Bistro.