The classy bistro Wiltshire on Market is a direct descendant of Susan Hershbergâ€™s much-loved Wiltshire Pantry, which got its start on Wiltshire Avenue in St. Matthews.
Its always appealing menu is based on American culinary traditions with international touches, and a strong emphasis on fresh, local produce and meat.
Wiltshire opened on Market in April 2009, so itâ€™s practically an institution by the fast-moving standard of its trendy neighborhood.
Chef Coby Ming set a high standard before she moved down the block to take the kitchen at Harvest last summer.
Iâ€™m happy to report that Chef Casey Broussard has taken over without missing a beat.
We dropped in with our friends Karl and Anne on a mild Friday night, and before long the place was hopping, with people three-deep at the friendly bar and just about every table in use.
We were happy with our window nook just on the edge of the action, seated around a huge, shiny table fashioned from a thick slice of an ancient white oak tree felled by a severe storm a few years ago.
Chef Broussardâ€™s menu gets weekly updates, particularly in the exact composition of the cheese and charcuterie (sausages and hams) board, which are both $9, and, our selection, the $17 cheese-and-charcuterie combination.
Other starters ranged in price from $4, for Wiltshireâ€™s signature assorted marinated olives to $9 for cold smoked kajiki fish â€œrollupsâ€ stuffed with pink lady apples, cress and lemongrass vinaigrette.
Four â€œfirst courseâ€ items â€” small plates, really, that you could mix or match to make a meal â€” were priced from $7 for Fox Hollow short rib tacos to $9 for a flatbread â€œpizzaâ€ topped with barbecue-grilled veggies, fried oregano leaves and house-smoked Asiago cheese.
We sampled all four main courses â€” a slab of Stone Cross Farm crispy pork belly ($18), which is basically unsliced, unsmoked bacon. This dish was fried crisp and painted with a sweet sauce, served atop a crisp potato latke and dressed with fresh pea shoots and a quince compote.
The herb-rubbed beef hanger steak ($20) drew raves. It was prepared perfectly, medium-rare as ordered with a nicely charred edge, cut into four thick slices and plated on a blue cheese veloute sauce with sensuous fingerling potatoes cooked in duck fat, with oven-dried cherry tomatoes and fresh broccolini.
Crisp-fried fingers of Hawaiian sun fish ($23) were sauced with Cuban-style Meyer lemon crab mojo and garnished with pea shoots, hearts of palm, tart-sweet mango and tempura-style plantains on a bed of coconut whipped potatoes.
Itâ€™s best described as a block of scalloped potatoes roasted in a block of stacked thin slices, creamy within a crisp, golden-brown shell.
It can also be described as â€œincredibly delicious.â€
Served with local kale, crumbled feta and marble-size rounds of kabocha squash on an intense red-beet coulis.
The well-chosen, diverse wine list provided good-value red and white picks at its lower-price end: Belleruche CÃ´te-du-RhÃ´ne from France ($32) and Heidler GrÃ¼ner Veltliner from Austria ($38).
There wasnâ€™t a clinker in a carload, and we capped dinner with perfect chocolate truffles ($5 for a shared plate) and outstanding coffee by Red Hot Roasters ($2 each).
With the wines, dinner for four came to $190.80, plus a $40 tip for perfect service. The share for two would have been around $95 plus tip.