5 reasons to visit Bistro 101

5 reasons to visit Bistro 101
Creative Kitchen: (L–R) Part-time chef Tom Wolowik, owner Mark Valaskey and assistant chef and pastry chef Ryan Dresen. Bistro 101’s beef tenderloin (right).

1. The Backstory: When Mark Valaskey was approached about becoming the general manager at Bistro 101, it came after closing his ever-popular Morels restaurant in Middleton. “It was painful, but ’tis the restaurant business,” he quips. Valaskey nearly quit the industry but gave it another shot in April 2015. Since then, he’s happily challenging himself running one of Mount Horeb’s most popular kitchens.

2. The Vibe: With an open kitchen and a spacious dining area, Bistro 101 feels like a well-loved neighborhood spot. “I love the fact that we cook in front of people,” says Valaskey. “Our guests come right up and ask us stuff and we always make special requests directly.”

3. The Food: There are no themes other than Valaskey will make anything work for Mount Horeb. If a beautiful tuna is on the market, he’ll find a way to make it feel like Wisconsin. He has a long local vendor list and prefers regional, fresh and wild. Everything is made to order.

4. The Must-Try: Staples like salmon canapes are a favorite, made of cold-cured smoked north Atlantic salmon on a grilled baguette with dill crème fraîche, red onions and flying fish roe. Certified Angus beef tenderloin topped with whipped garlic-demi compound butter is a menu darling. And the pork belly is so good it’s on the restaurant’s T-shirt.

5. The Bottom Line: Bistro 101 is more than a bistro; it’s a charming gathering spot for the community. When a regular customer asked for lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, Valaskey only asked for a week and a reservation to get it on the menu. “We get to be creative every day,” he says. “We’re always ready to make you something special.”