Restaurant Week 2009: Black Creek Bistro

Considering the number of good meals we have had in a row, we were bound to run into a stinker somewhere down the line. Consider me flummoxed that the meal I was most disappointed with is the one for which I had the highest expectations. Black Creek Bistro is a media darling, having very positive reviews from no less than 6 major publications and/or area food bloggers, who are known to be hard to impress. I love their ideals and dedication to eating local and growing their own products. But frankly? I was totally underwhelmed.

Black Creek Bistro Sign

We got there for the first dinner seating of the evening, prompty at 4pm. We should have known something was amiss when we heard the chef bellow to someone across the room that he was out of darn near everything.  We took a look at the Restaurant Week menu, and made some decisions. They let us know right away that they were out of the Butterscotch Pudding. My husband was really bummed, because that was the part of the meal he was most looking forward to.

Black Creek Bistro Restaurant Week 2009 Menu

Since it was Happy Hour, appetizers were $5, and we chose to order the Crab Cakes. They had decent flavor, and were sufficiently crabby with very little filler, but we prefer a little lump in our crabcakes, as opposed to shredded claw or backfin meat. Also, my husband found quite a bit of shell in his, which was a bit offputting. Couple that with just a smidge too little tartar sauce, and this was something we both probably wouldn’t order again, even at the discounted price.

Crab Cakes from Black Creek Bistro (Columbus, OH)

I chose the House Salad, which is described as “spring mix with pecans, dried cranberries, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar”. While the salad was nice and fresh and dressed well, the lack of dried cranberries did not go unnoticed.

House Salad

My husband went with the Caesar salad, which was served with the garlic zing dressing (he was not offered a choice as described in the menu). Again, fresh tasting, and we loved the garlic croutons.

Caesar Salad

The rolls that came with the salads were a bit crunchy and hard, but were paired with a nice compound butter that seemed to improve them a bit.

Rolls and Compound Butter

For the small plate, I went with the Mini Bistro Egg Rolls, filled with bacon and goat cheese, which although quite a tiny serving was very flavorful. They went nicely with the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar and fresh strawberry puree.

Mini Bistro Egg Rolls

My husband opted for the Hummus Trio, with today’s choices being Traditional, Lemon and Sun-Dried Tomato. The lemon and sun-dried tomato were unusual enough to be good in an interesting way, but the Traditional lacked a bit of flavor.

Trio of Hummus

For my main, I went with the Bistro Chicken Confit, which in all honesty looked and tasted like something I could have replicated here at home. I don’t know about you folks, but when I dine out, if it’s a fine dining establishment, I want my food to be something that is either beyond my cooking skill level or something that is too time consuming or troublesome for me to make on my own. While the meat that was on the chicken leg was flavorful, there wasn’t much of it there, and they left out a major component of the dish (and what made me order it in the first place) – the squash fritters. It would have been nice to have a warning from my server that these weren’t available before I ordered, as I probably would have chosen something else otherwise. To that end, I was really disappointed in this one.

Bistro Chicken Confit

My husband didn’t fare much better with his entree, the Pork, Mushrooms and Wine. Again, he had an issue with the portion size, and with the fact that it was extremely greasy. What should have been the wine sauce seemed like it was more of an oil sauce, with any emulsification totally broken.

Pork Scallops with Mushrooms

The dessert of rice pudding would have been good but for the addition of the ginger and ruby red grapefruit syrup, which made an already sweet pudding so sickly sweet to me that my husband ate both his portion and mine.

Vanilla Rice Pudding with Ginger and Ruby Red Grapefruit Syrup

Unfortunately, we both left Black Creek Bistro still hungry and very disappointed. Based on the opinion of many people we respect, it seems as though tonight may have been an anomaly at an otherwise good restaurant. However, with the lack of communication and with the shortcuts they were taking when ingredients ran out, it felt more as if they were phoning it in. We may give the restaurant another try in the future when produce is in season and Restaurant Week is a distant memory, but for now, it’s left a sour taste in our mouth.

If you’d like to go: Black Creek Bistro, 57 S. Parsons, Columbus (Olde Towne East), 614.246.9662

Update: We had the opportunity to meet Chef Peters in person and try some of his food at a Hills Market Cooking Class featuring him, and were blown away by both the food he prepared and his attitude. What a class act! We’re more than convinced that our experience during Restaurant Week was an anomaly (big personnel changes going on at the restaurant, the fact that nothing is seasonal in March, etc) and can’t wait to return later in the year. I will be sure to re-review at that time.

Black Creek Bistro on Urbanspoon

17 thoughts on “Restaurant Week 2009: Black Creek Bistro

  1. I was also disappointed by Black Creek Bistro. We didn't visit during Restaurant Week, but about a month ago. We were given 4 menus, which is far to many to present any kind of focus. Mixed drinks on cocktail menu included low quality mixers and liquors, and even this try anything drinker stuck with a gin martini. Food was only so-so. Service was not well informed. I also want to try again when produce is in season and hope to be wowed next time.

  2. I was there last summer and it was very good, and am bummed you had a bad experience. I was impressed with the food menu selection and the cocktails my friends ordered were tasty.

    Too bad for them, though – there are so many other incredible places to choose from…why go back?

  3. Hi Swampkitty,
    I've been following your blog and posts on CU for some time now and wanted to also give you props on being a great local food blogger. Your insights and photos are always awesome.

    I went to Black Creek Bistro a few months ago for lunch and was also disappointed, having read raving reviews from other local foodies beforehand. I too found the rolls a bit hard, and our service was verrryyy slooooow. I commend their use of local resources, but I think they need to step up their game if they want to compete with all of the other great restaurants in town.

  4. Four of us went during Restaurant week and had each of the items you mentioned. We found nothing to complain about and the service was wonderful as usual. La La La

  5. I'm always flummoxed by restaurants who run out of featured items during times when they KNOW they will have higher than normal diners.
    I really like your blog!

  6. I've only been to BCB once, but I enjoyed what I had there. I thought the pricing was great too.

    As for them running out of specific items, they grow a lot of their own food at their farm, so I'd assume that would keep certain things in short supply.

    Will be curious to see what changes when the move across the street to the old Music Hall building.

  7. The wife and I have been to BCB maybe 6 times since they have opened, including lunch and dinner. We have both noticed that the food quality has decreased every time. In fact, my wife is calling for us to strike it from our list of dining establishments we frequent. Poor service, mediocre food, and, at least twice, a feeling of that it needed a good cleaning. It's a great idea in a nice location, but they really need to be hitting on all cylinders to compete in this town. Let us know if they improve.

  8. The wife and I have been to BCB maybe 6 times since they have opened, including lunch and dinner. We have both noticed that the food quality has decreased every time. In fact, my wife is calling for us to strike it from our list of dining establishments we frequent. Poor service, mediocre food, and, at least twice, a feeling of that it needed a good cleaning. It's a great idea in a nice location, but they really need to be hitting on all cylinders to compete in this town. Let us know if they improve.

  9. My apologies for not delivering a memorable experience.
    We are addressing the issues and have all ready focused on the speed and food quailty at lunch.
    For dinner we are bringing on a top quality chef within the next two weeks and will be revamping the menus shortly after.
    I put a few to many projects on my plate and was not focusing properly on The Bistro.
    This is changing now because of your comments.
    Thankyou
    Kent Peters

  10. What a great response by the owner. I have generally enjoyed this place but had a couple of sub standard experiences. I will certainly return to check out the new menu/chef.

  11. I am always grateful to see business owners take a risk and set up shop in a market that might be tougher than say the Short North or Grandview. Kent draws customers from all over the city who might not know about Old Town East. I appreciate ventures that bring our beloved urban neighborhoods some renewed enthusiasm, energy and light. I also appreciate the farm focus that the restaurant adheres to, it's an amazing juxtaposition; true farm fresh food in one of Columbus's oldest urban neighborhoods.

    I'm sorry you had a bad experience, my hope is you give it another chance. Sounds like it might be the equivalent of a bad hair day, restaurant style! And trust me, I know all about those. Great response from Kent, sounds like he's on it.

  12. Thanks for responding, Kent. As I said in the review, I was surprised at our experience considering the positive things I've heard about BCB. I'm more than willing to give the restaurant a try again in the future, just waiting until I know the growing season is in full force and that you have a whole bunch of fresh ingredients to work with.

    I'm looking forward to seeing the new menu. :)

  13. I agree completely. Excellent response by the owner, taking ownership of the situation and using my issues as information needed to improve things. If only all restaurant owners were as receptive.

  14. I agree completely, Liz. I hope I made clear in my review that I thought that perhaps our bad experience was an anomaly, considering the good things I've heard about them in the past. I have mad respect for everything they're trying to do – from locating the restaurant in a transitional area of town to sourcing and growing local ingredients.

    I am looking forward to trying them in the future, most likely after Kent makes the changes he's talking about, and hope to be able to revise my initial review at that point.

  15. I was there last night and was completely disappointed…again. The $6 dinner house salad was the size of a side salad. Like the reviewer, it lacked dried cranberries. I just couldn't believe that I had to spend so much for a tiny, uninteresting salad.

  16. A few friends and I dined at BCB last night for restaurant week and were tremendously disappointed. This was my 4th visit to the restaurant and most certainly my last. For the 1st course I ordered the shrimp and cabbage egg roll. This was well balanced and definitely the highlight of the meal. The second course– roasted fennel salad with olives–turned out to be mostly lettuce with a few very small and very bland pieces of fennel and far too many olives. My entree was sausage and apple stuffed quail with chickpee mash. Absolutely terrible! The quail was extremely dry and had a stale–almost musty–flavor, and I couldn't get past the second bite of the chickpea mash. To say it tasted like a mix of canned chickpeas mixed with ketchup and canned carrots that had been opened and left in the refrigerator for a week would be romanticizing this side dish. The portion of quail was tiny–which, at this point, was fine with me. I doubt I would have wanted to eat any more of it.
    Lastly, the restaurant week menu featured 2 dessert options: Banana Nut Chocolate Egg Rolls, or Pineapple Tarte Tatin. Our server informed us they were completely out of the Banana Nut Egg Rolls, but we could substitute Butterscotch Pudding. I had the pudding, while my friends all opted for the tarte tatin. The pudding was ok–unremarkable, but far better than my entree. The tarte tatin, however, was hands down the worst dessert I've had at a restaurant. Soggy, greasy, and so sickeningly sweet I could hardly swallow the bite I had.
    At one point, our server brought the wrong glass of wine to the table. Pinot Noir instead of Zinfandel. No bid deal. My friend said she would go ahead and taste the pinot noir–after all it had already been served to her, she had already smelled the wine– and if she liked it, she would just drink that instead. No point in having to throw out a perfectly good glass of wine, right? Oh, but the server said that she actually wouldn't throw it out, she would serve it to someone else–she had a few other guests drinking pinot noir. !!!! I don't know about any one else, but I for one do not want to be served a glass of wine someone at another table had already put her nose in!
    I will say, the very first time we ate at BCB was great! However, that was when the restaurant first opened. The 3 subsequent times we have eaten there have gotten progressively worse, with last night's dinner permanently removing this restaurant from our list of restaurants at which to dine.

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