PLACITAS — Blades Bistro owners Kevin and Anja (pronounced Anya) Bladergroen agree that their restaurant has been the unofficial hub of Placitas for the last 10 years.
“If a new person moves to town, they will usually be greeted by the community here,” Anja said. “This is exactly what we wanted for our restaurant when we envisioned opening here all those years ago.”
Anja said she wasn’t sure the bistro would even happen when she first walked into the space a decade ago.
“I didn’t see it at first,” she said. “The bar was too close to the dining area, and there was only one bathroom. So we walked away thinking this was not an option.”
Anja said after she and Kevin walked away from the property, the landlords agreed to open the space up and add a restroom, which was the catalyst for Blades to begin.
The vision for the bistro included a series of small tables so customers could interact with each other while enjoying a meal, one big family table and a few medium tables for parties of four, Anja said.
“This is how a bistro is done in Europe and so we wanted to emulate that style here,” she said. “In Europe, a bistro is an open space where people can interact and ask each other what they are eating.”
Anja said many of Blades’ regular customers became friends because of the layout of the bistro and have remained friends throughout the years.
Blades is an 1,800-square-foot space set up with an L-shaped booth that winds from the west side of the building to the north. The bar has been separated from the main dining room with an entryway supported by a large beam.
The chef’s station is open, separated from the dining area only by a counter where customers can watch Kevin and his staff of chefs create culinary dishes from scratch.
Kevin, who has spent nearly 40 years cooking around the globe, said he always wanted to own a place where he could continue his passion of creating unique cuisine.
“I feel like a rock star because I’m on stage every night,” he said.
What Kevin creates, he said, is a culmination of everything he’s learned cooking in restaurants from France to Long Island, N.Y., just to name a couple.
“Basically, most of the menu is things that I’m comfortable with and that transcends to the guests,” he said.
For example, Kevin pointed to a dish called snapper Milanese, which he said he started cooking in 1979.
“I do some of the dishes I’ve been making forever, including some standard French dishes like sweet breads, plus I add a little something new when the season is right,” he said.
Kevin defines bistro as a restaurant with a very nice ambiance and high-quality fresh food.
“Basically, we can do anything we want because we are a bistro,” he said.
Anja said she and Kevin have thought of expanding the business to maybe some packaged soups to expand the bistro’s name but are still mainly focused on keeping Blades moving on a day-to-day basis.
“Some people say they are amazed that we are married and run a business together,” Anja said. “But it works for us. Kevin cooks, which is what he loves, and I try give each customer a special experience. This is what I contribute to our success.”