Restaurant Review: Penton’s Bistro & the King Bleu Corner Bar

Penton's Bistro serves up delicious gatherings at a prime Downtown corner.

Interior and exterior shots of Penton’s Bistro and Chef Jeremy Penton. // Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

Stepping into Penton’s Bistro & the King Bleu Corner Bar is like stepping into a family member’s dining room. In fact, several of the tables, the mirrors and some of the artwork are all from co-owners’ David and Criss Perry Crowder’s old house. As Criss puts it, “We want people to feel like this is their home as well as ours.”  

The Crowders co-own the restaurant in the former location of longtime downtown Mobile staple Cafe 219 along with Chef Jeremy Penton. “He always said he wanted to have his own restaurant,” says David. “We talked to him throughout the years and encouraged him. He came to me and said, ‘I think I found a good location,’ … and I said, ‘I think you’re right.’”

The space has been curated in an eclectic style. The bistro provides a warm, sit-down atmosphere, the bar brings an after-work, lounge vibe and the courtyard entertains outdoor dining when the weather allows. Another personal touch: the bar is named after the Crowders’ dog Bleu. “We’ve been downtown guys since ‘99 and we walk down the street and they know Bleuy more than they know David and me sometimes,” says Criss. “He’s very popular.” All four — Criss, David, Bleu and Penton — have craft cocktails named after them at the bar, with titles like the Criss P or Penton Orange.

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With previous training under Michelin-star chefs and a years-long dream of owning his own restaurant, Penton gives a varied, seasonally rotating menu to the new restaurant, from stuffed burgers to tuna tartare. “I’ve been classically trained in French cooking, I’ve been trained in Italian…and naming [the restaurant] ‘bistro’ gives me the broader array to do whatever it is I want,” he says. “My menu is going to push boundaries here or there, but I also want to build a trust with our clientele.”

The restaurant cycles three menus during the day. Patrons can enjoy a sit-down lunch midday. A happy hour menu boasts shared plates, charcuterie and tapas-esque offerings, overlapping with dinner for an hour. All sorts of customers stop in during the evening, from families with young children to couples looking for a spot to eat after a night at the Saenger Theatre. “We’ve had an eclectic clientele from the start,” says Penton. “We just want it to be welcoming… If you come in expecting to have a good time, a good meal, great drinks and great service, then you’re in the right spot.”

On the Menu

Stuffed Burger
A beef patty is stuffed with Tillamook white cheddar cheese to create a must-try menu item. Sweet and smoky caramelized onions and a fluffy bun round out the masterpiece.

Tuna Tartare
Rich ahi tuna is tossed in a soy, sriracha and sesame oil sauce and served over thin cucumber slices. The dish is then topped with wakame and toasted sesame seeds.

Seafood Gumbo
The holy trinity mixes with Old Bay, garlic, shrimp, okra, tomatoes, jumbo lump crabmeat  and a few to-secret ingredients in Jeremy Penton’s twist on a Gulf Coast favorite. 

Shrimp Etouffee
Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper and hot sauce bring a flavorful heat to this shrimp stock-based dish. It is complete with shrimp, fresh tomatoes and rice on top.

Tender and tantalizing, this cut is served with duck fat fried fingerling potatoes and asparagus and topped with a red wine demi glas for a meal you won’t forget.

Penton’s Bistro & the King Bleu Corner Bar • 219 Conti St. • 438-5234 • Mon – Fri 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sat 5 – 9 p.m. 

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