Last night I attended a dinner at a new restaurant here in Greensboro, NC. I work in the publishing group of a large organization and a group of our alliance publishers are in town for our annual meeting. Twenty of my colleagues, visitors, and I gathered at the Print Works Bistro. This new restaurant is adjacent to a “green hotel” that was constructed using the guidelines of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. Kudos to them, I was certainly excited about this dinning opportunity. I also hoped this restaurant would impress our out of town visitors, most of them permanently located in San Francisco.
Print Works Bistro seems to attempt the same sustainable pratcities as the hotel. Their menu emphasises the use of local ingredients, the restaurant is constructed from salvaged materials such as antique doors that line the restaurant walls, and the use of solar power is evident by the panels peaking over the roof. However, through the corse of the meal it was clear that something was amiss in the translation of sustainable and practicle. A few moments after we were seated the waiter placed single squares of corugated cardboard at the helm of each place setting, they were intended to act as coasters. I can think of hundreds of reusable coaster options, cardboard not among them – biodegradable or no!
The interior was confusing. Humongous long white curtains hang from the high ceilings and they are situated to act as hallways. The effect is dizzying, and not in a good way. I thought that perhaps the purpose of the curtains was to provide a versatile dinning setting but the restaurant was unable to accomidate my party of twenty so we had to divide ourselves into tables of ten. What on earth is the point of movable walls if they cannot provide a private dinning room for a party of 20?
We ordered the Alsatian Flatbread and Gougere for the table. I do not recommend the flatbread. The bread was tough and uninviting, the result of too much time under a broiler, the onions were oily, the bacon was too unevenly cut (it read as messy rather then rustic). Worst of all, the bread was smeared with a mayonaise type substance. Not good. I did not finish my square inch portion. The gougeres were tasty, a nutty cheesiness prevailed throughout the golf ball sized spheres. In my experience gougeres are difficult to execute in retaurant sized quantities because they can often be rubbery, these were not.
For my entree I ordered the Pan Roasted NC Trout “Grenobloise” with brown butter, capers, lemon and bread crumbs, served with sauteed spinach. Serveral of my dinning companions ordered the same. I was so angry at this dish, the trout provided about two ounces of edible fish and it was overloaded with coarse, mouth cutting bread crumbs. I was surprised by the thick hunks of lemon that bombarded my mouth with every other bite. This morning I learned that lemon hunks should be anticipated when ordering a dish a la “Grenobloise” in the style of
Chernobyl Grenobole. The spinach was blah, messy chunks of garlic in a half cup of oily spinach served in a STAUB mini sauce pan. The presentation was completely unnessecary and the dish was $19.00 of disappointment.
I am the sort of restaurant customer who wants to enjoy the experience even if I do not enjoy the food. I make excuses for poor wait staff on a regular basis and I never complain about anything. That being said, the service was bizarre and bad. When it came time to place orders for entrees the waiter was standing behind me and said, “Okay, we’ll start with you”, and proceeded to give me a quick punch on my shoulder. I was so taken aback that I turned around to see if perhaps I knew my assailant. Alas, I did not. Later in the night a waitress brought a plate of mussels and frites to my colleague and dropped half of the contents on to the table and the other half into his lap. My boss ordered the Steak Frites well-done. Upon hearing his choice the waiter, the one who punched me, asked in a condesending tone if my boss had ever had hanger steak before. My boss was iritated by this question and told the waiter to make sure whatever cut of meat he brought was well done. I did my best not to shrink and hide under the table.
I did not order dessert because a friend of mine who visited the Bistro recently told me it was nothing special. One person ordered the Lemon Tart with bruleed top and it looked deliciously beautiful. Another guest ordered the Decadent Chocolate Mousse with hazelnut biscotti and she only took two bites. The mousse did not look very appealing, the thick and lack luster appearence were far too heavy for it’s martini glass presentation. The rest of the table, with the exception of my boss and I, ordered the Profiteroles with Vanilla Ice Cream and Lots of Hot Chocolate Sauce. I though that this menu description was hilarious but it quickly lost it’s charm when a string of waiters delivered the dessert plates to the table and asked the recipients if they wanted “a little or a lot of hot chocolate sauce”. Once the customer replied the waiters cerimoniously drizzled either a little or a lot of hot chocolate sauce on the profiteroles. This made me feel the same way I did the first (and only) time I visited P.F. Chang’s and the baby faced waiters “made” the dipping sauce at the table. Too much pomp and circumstance for something that requires no actual skill.
After leaving Print Works Bistro last night I tried to imagine a situation in which the restaurant would be charming and enjoyable instead of dissapointing and bizarre. Perhaps if I was there with loved ones instead of corporate brass? But no, I would never take my loved ones there. Perhaps if I did not live in Greensboro and I was simply here on business enjoying a dinner after a long day of meetings? Even then I don’t think I would be satisfyed or entertained by the substance or service of the Print Works Bistro.
Up Next from Bunny Bread Surprise: Korean food is my new jam and there is a new Korean restaurant in my neighborhood! I plan to treat my significant other to dinner and post pics using my NEW DIGICAM!