local foodies open new restaurant and catering service
For a long time, Eau Claire’s restaurant scene seems to have been missing a place that provides high quality, upscale food that keeps presentation in mind alongside an inspiring, elegant atmosphere in which to experience it. Well, thanks to former Draganetti’s chef Tony Draganowski, who takes on the food responsibilities, and his longtime friend and business partner Katie Borchers Warner, who takes on the décor aspect, this wishful thinking has become a reality via Bijou Catering, a new bistro and catering restaurant here in Eau Claire.
After being friends and sharing the same vision when it comes to quality and presentation conscious food, the two formed their LLC in June 2012 and spent the summer creating their menu and décor. As a self-taught chef that draws on inspiration from his grandma, Tony is obviously passionate about food and it clearly comes from the heart.
After a successful run at Draganetti’s, he was seeking a new challenge in his cooking career. Katie described Bijou’s style as, “continental … a well-balanced plate with a lot of fresh vegetables” within an atmosphere that can’t quite be matched by other nearby restaurants, noting that customers that come in often say the restaurant has a “European feel” and that they feel like they’re in a bigger city. Tony adds that they “bring in flavors and look outside the realm” of what people are used to and that they are “small but fabulous.”
Their menu features classic hors d’oeuvres like crab stuffed mushrooms and enticing entrees such as pan seared Norwegian salmon with risotto and espresso rubbed New York strip (yum). But Tony’s favorite dish on the menu remains the Bijou house salad – “organic greens tossed in a Zinfandel vinaigrette dressing, topped with red-wine poached pears, Spanish Gorgonzola, and toasted pecans.” This is a perfect example of a dish that is doubtful to be obtained elsewhere in Eau Claire.
Aside from catering events from an intimate dinner for two to a maximum of about 200 people (breakfast/lunch/dinner/dessert), Bijou also offers a bistro restaurant at its location with hours Tuesday through Friday from 11 AM to 2:30pm and a Chef’s Table in the kitchen that will host private dinner guests served a 5-7 course meal. The owners also share plans to open for dinner in December. Bijou is willing to cater to (no pun intended) any special food requests such as allergies or veganism as well.
When it comes to doing business in the Chippewa Valley, Tony and Katie couldn’t be happier. Tony says, “it’s all personal … I like knowing Mrs. Brown from down the road and creating something beautiful for them, I love that.” Katie adds, “I love the feeling of camaraderie, its part of a smaller city, you know people in every place you go and it has a personal touch … people couldn’t be nicer … people take pride in the business.”
If you’re interested in having a unique, delicious meal that you won’t likely have elsewhere in town, you should support our local business owners and check out this distinctive, niche style restaurant that we are lucky to have in the Chippewa Valley.
Bijou Catering is located at 2629 E. Clairemont Ave. right before the turn to London Road and they can be contacted at 832-6778.
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article Tony Draganowski was incorrectly referred to as the owner of Draganetti's. He was a long time chef at Draganetti's, but has never owned the eatery.