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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.