Sunday, May 20, 2012

Charleston Edition: Bridge Road Bistro

For dinner in Charleston, we decided to end my trip with a bang! Up until this point, I hadn't spent a ton of money on a meal, but I was willing to do so on the last night. After reading some reviews, I knew Bridge Road Bistro wasn't exactly college student-budget friendly, so that was our choice for our farewell dinner.

We parked across the street, at Cornucopia, because the parking near the restaurant was full. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by a young, friendly woman. She was trying to deal with a complaint from another customer about the noise but all the while keeping her composure with us.

She seated us next to this awesome sculpture of the New River Gorge bridge. I looked around and quickly noticed this was not my demographic. All around us were old, white, rich people. People who look like they just finished a round of 18 at the local country club. We got a few stares for our blue-jean-clad legs. But that's okay.

The booth we were in was rounded, so you could fit a handful more people in. It was kind of awkward for only two people, but we made it work. We looked through the menu - I wasn't hellbent on paying a ton of money on something that only looked average to me. But what did look outstanding was the appetizers. Two especially: jumbo lump crab and artichoke gratin (toasted foccacia) and roast butternut squash and grilled red pepper won tons (napa cabbage kim chee, honey soy gastrique). Yum! We placed those orders, and then something unexpected happened.

Our waitress had a seizure. Not in front of us. But we heard lots of commotion coming from the back, followed by loud sobs, and then another waiter came to us and said he's taking over. It wasn't until we were finished with our meal that he gave us a few details I won't repeat here. It was unfortunate, and she was escorted out via police to an ambulance. My focus on the dining experience suddenly became far more lax, as I was concerned about her health.

But our replacement waiter brought out our dishes, with no real pause in service at all. I tasted the dip first - I didn't get crab or artichoke. Instead, I tasted cream cheese. In fact, the whole dip kind of just tasted like a cream cheese. That flavor overwhelmed any hint of crab or artichoke. It sounds delicious, and I really wanted to like it, but it was just okay. If the name on the menu matched the flavors, it'd be amazing.

Next, I tried the wontons. I truly was expecting some hint of cheese here, but nothing. The squash was tasty, and this dish was creative. I still think it could have benefited from maybe a sharp cheese flavor. But I can appreciate something different - but the cabbage was barely around. It was simply a couple shreds under each wonton to essentially help it stay in place on the plate.

After giving their dessert menu a quick glance, I couldn't really pass up their creme brulee. French custard and caramelized sugar seemed like a perfect fit for my meal's endcap. The dessert was light and airy and delicious. The top was a perfect thickness and the beautiful small shards of sugar dissolved in my mouth. The fresh strawberry garnish was cool and sweet. I scraped the bowl. I just wish those darn things were deeper. Oh well.

I spent about $40 total, which is hefty. But I did enjoy my meal overall. I appreciated the creativity, though the execution wasn't completely there. The dessert was phenomenal, and considering all the circumstances, the service was impeccable.

Grade: B
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