The night before I went to this place for lunch my hubby sampled their crab soup at a City-sponsored “meet Roanoke” type event and declared it über muy bueno. So, while he was at the conference I looked around at downtown eateries and settled on this since the soup review was so rave.
But my luck wasn’t as good as his.
Less is not more
Though I’m sure I said to the hostess, “It’s just me today,” she must not have been paying attention because she put down tow menus and, though there was only one other party in the pace, simply didn’t come back to my table for a loooooong time, like 15 minutes, even with water.
Because so few people were in the place it was around 1 o’clock — I sat in front in a bar area at a copper-topped bar-height table. I liked that table well enough aesthetically, but when walking back to the bathroom I gave the whole place the once over and it read as remarkably dull and unimaginative, way past time for an interior re-do. Same goes for the Website — lose the BLACK and for gosh sakes, it’s 2015, get a mobile responsive theme so travelers can peruse it more easily.
Too many Virginia restaurants mistake putting up corporate hotel style art for sophistication and so compile a bizarre mish-mash of lifeless styles, throwing it up hither and yon on dated and overly dark walls. Worse in this case was that they took a gorgeous antique tin ceiling and painted it black. This isn’t cozy, it’s deadening.
Dark is no longer sophisticated, light is. Table 50 needs a new paint job everywhere and new carpeting. The one cool art piece was a Paul Newman painting bit it was ultimately jarring against the other middling and wimpish art — it just didn’t work. To feel au courant they need to find a unifying art and decor theme, and ditch the random look.
Atmosphere means a lot to me (though I am equally enamored of holes-in-walls, Ma & Pa type joints, and your gritty but real down-home place).
But okay, so enough about the decor.
What about the lunch?
I had a simple salad for lunch and an unimpressive glass of wine. But here I was in the heart of Downtown Roanoke and couldn’t find a local Virginia wine by the glass on the menu. This is a problem both for customers and for our local economy and local vineyards.
My Cobb salad was okay — at best. I did ask for it without chicken and with extra egg and avocado instead which, to their credit, they were willing to do. But the presentation was so middle-of-the road and the overall salad was essentially flavorless, like, straight off the Sysco truck or something. Tolerable if you’re at, say, a corporate chain like Ruby Tuesday, but a boutique downtown restaurant in prime Center in the Square territory like this should be stepping up its game.
I doubt I’d come back, and certainly not for dinner, unless I saw a push to update the place across the board from presentation to palette.
— Lindsay Curren, Girl Goes Virginia