High Hopes…Big Letdown – Bridge Road Bistro

Bridge Road Bistro – Bridge Road Shops, Charleston, WV

Susan says…

I’ll admit it.  I get excited about going to “fancy” places.  I don’t mind spending the money because I enjoy food so much.  When I go on vacation, I spend time researching area restaurants before I even hit the road.  The highlight of my trip to Charleston, SC last summer was a meal at Hank’s.  I made a big deal of going there and getting dressed up, and taking pictures…  So I tend to develop expectations when a place is talked up and I am looking forward to dining there.

Such is the case with Bridge Road Bistro.  People have hyped it.  It’s supposed to be awesome.  The little taste I got at cocktail hour a couple weeks ago told me there was good food, but I wouldn’t get much and it would cost a pretty penny.  Sort of like that credit card commercial where the young couple finally gets a reservation at a nice restaurant but when they get their food it is microscopic so they have to hit the Go-Mart afterward to buy a bunch of junk food.   But if that microscopic food is really delicious, I might be okay with it.

You may be predicting, based on the headline, that I was not okay with the BRB.

The menu choices looked fantastic.  In fact, I was having a devil of a time deciding what to select.  I considered the jerk pork sandwich, the tikka masala wrap, the caprese pannini and the orrichiette with asparagus.  I even quizzed the waiter on what was good and he recommended the jerk pork but also assured me the orrichiette was delicious.  You may as well know this about me since we’re friends now:  I am a sucker for asparagus.  You could list “sauteed dog turds with asparagus” and I would be tempted to order it, thinking I’ll just pick out the dog turds in order to get the asparagus.  The orrichiette came with asparagus, wild mushrooms, and a cream sherry sauce.  Oh no.  Another one of my weaknesses, sherry.  And our trusty waiter said it was good….

Someone at my table attempted to order the grilled chicken sandwich after careful consideration and was disappointed to find out WHEN THEY ORDERED IT that the kitchen was out of chicken.  How do you let that happen????  In a ….world? I don’t think the manangement of BRB realizes that you can purchase raw chicken at Ashton Place Kroger, Southridge Wal Mart and Sam’s.  Wouldn’t it be worth their while to go get some freakin’ chicken?  And if you are out of something, please break the news when you deliver the menus.  Don’t wait until the diner has made a decision to tell them they have to start all over.

But that hiccup didn’t affect me.  No….I had decided on the orrichiette with asparagus.  I didn’t even flinch at the $13.50 price tag – asparagus is practically priceless.  We continued on with conversation until the meals arrived.  That’s when I started flinching.

orrichiette with asparagus and wild mushrooms $13.50

My friend said she didn’t even think mine looked appetizing and refused to taste it.  She had ordered the jerk pork on baguette and I had immediate Food Envy.  Damn.  I hate it when that happens.   But you can’t really judge a dish until you taste it, right?  I surveyed the size of the bowl.  It was approximately nine inches in diameter, including the wide rim.  This was indeed a small portion of pasta.  And I didn’t get any type of a side – no salad, no bread, no “how do ya do”.  Nada.  The smell wasn’t making me anxious to dig in, either.  It was so heavy on the wild mushrooms, I couldn’t catch a whiff of the sherry that tempted me on the menu description.  But you can’t make a judgment until you taste it.

So I did.  The pasta was cooked perfectly to al dente.   I especially liked the bites where three of the “little ears” were stacked on top of each other.  You know that vintage Wendy’s commercial where the old lady says “where’s the beef”? Well, I was asking “where’s the asparagus?”  I unzipped my fashionable red handbag, pulled out a magnifying glass, and gazed at the teeny tiny bowl.  Oh, yeah….there it is!  I realized how the California gold diggers must have felt when a glimmering lump of gold was discovered after sifting through tray after tray of dirt.  I had maybe two spears cut into 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces.  Some of the scallion pieces were bigger than the asparagus.  And the asparagus micro-bits were pale green in color, indicating they had spent a little much time in the hot tub.  My thoughts on the sauce was just that it was overwhelmed with mushroom flavor instead of a complement to the sherry.  I didn’t even finish my dish.

Lucky for me, my friend felt sorry for me and offered me a half of a half of her jerk pork sandwich.  This was a delicious sandwich!  It not only boasted jerk-seasoned pork, but also ham, pineapple, provolone, and spicy, grainy mustard.  Sort of like a Hawaiian pizza sandwich on steroids.  The bread at first glance appeared to be uninteresting, but it was lightly toasted and had a nice crispiness.  My friend and I could have happily split that meal – she got a huge sandwich, fries, and coleslaw for $12.50.  She had the option of homemade chips instead of fries – someone else at our table got chips and my uninvited sampling indicated they were very good.  I am going to assume the fries were great because she didn’t offer me any of those!

Another dining pet peeve, and proof that the management at BRB have not yet been introduced to Fork You: the waiter brought ONE CHECK for an obvious group of co-workers.

My dining partners kept telling me I just ordered “the wrong thing”.  But I will contend that every item on the menu ought to be good and worthy of ordering.  I was sorely disappointed with the pasta dish and I beleive BRB should consider replacing its spot on the menu with something decent, or make significant improvements to their recipe.  This dish is not on the menu on the BRB website which suggests that it is a new item.  If they need a taste-tester…remember that I am a sucker for asparagus.  Based on what I ordered and what I sampled off everyone else’s plates, I am going to rate BRB THREE FORKS.  I think they have great potential to make me a happy diner after they clean the riff-raff off their menu.

Bridge Road Bistro
915 Bridge Road
Charleston, WV 25314
304-720-3500
Bridge Road Bistro on Urbanspoon
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29 responses to “High Hopes…Big Letdown – Bridge Road Bistro

  1. Three forks… based on Potential…

    I’ve eaten here a few times.. and it’s the same.. it’s all bark and no bite..

    “Potential” as Bill Parcells once said, “A player with Potential is a Player that hasn’t done shit”.

    And the BRB has been in business long enough for one to realize there is no Potential… It’s just a joint serving up overpriced food for people who want to feel snoody about themselves.

    They need to be brought down a rung or two. I could serve a dog turd masquaraded as something else and put a sprig of something to make it look pretty, but that doesn’t make it good.. At the end of the day it’s still a dog turd.

    BRB places too much emphisis on presentation, and not enough on quality… K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid. Good Food Good Price…etc.

    But that could be their business plan.. sucker alot of rich people in to pay for overpriced average food mark it up 120% and head off to France for the summer and reap the profits.

    Lucky I didn’t review it… but I guess I just did…

    I hope this upset someone because we here at Fork You haven’t had a long email spat in awhile.

    we need to have another.. Our page views are down.

    and to the person that picks out the most misspeled words, you can pick my next review.

  2. BTW, Susan doesn’t count or I’ll be eating at the Taste Of Asia…. I don’t want that… but she will be the auditor.

  3. Ron, I love your rants! I’ve never eaten at BRB. I’ve heard it’s good, but I’m never in that area so it’s not somewhere I think about going. If it’s ever an option, I’ll consider Fork You’s reviews.

    Btw…I count five misspelled (this is one of them) words: snoody-snooty, masquaraded-masqueraded, emphisis-emphasis and alot-a lot (if it counts).

    ; )

  4. LAL-

    I would totally count the misspelling of “a lot”. I am so glad there is someone else out there who cares about spelling.

    Also “pay” should be “paying”. I had to force myself to ignore all the grammatical offenses.

    So, who do you want to Ron to fork next?

  5. Susan- If we’re looking for grammatical errors, this list would be much longer. LOL But I’m not going there because I’ve committed a few myself (noticed after posting, but too late to correct.) It’s something I’ve always noticed for some quirky reason.

    Hmmmmm. I was wondering if you guys ever go to River’s Edge Cafe in St. Albans (a/k/a “The Cafe”)? I’ve eaten there a lot over the years and the food is really good. The service can at times be slow but the atmosphere and the food make up for it. It gets crowded in the evenings (for good reason.) I love the stuffed mushrooms and their sandwiches and burgers are very good. They have homemade chips with a really good dipping sauce (if you like blue cheese) and they make their own fries. Give them a try!

  6. I’ve been wanting to review the Cafe, and yeah I think it’s good… if that’s what you want… that will be my next reveiw.

    Now for the spelling.. I think you deserve Extra Credit for “misspeled” as that was an obviously intentional misspelling.

    much like “reveiw” is in this. lol.

  7. oh wait, you did count Misspeled…

    Oh man… no extra credit. (not that it amounted to anything)

    I’ll victimize the Cafe hopefully within the next week.

  8. I wish LAL had chosen Lola’s….or Hillbilly Hotdogs!

  9. Lola’s????? Haven’t heard of it, but I’m intrigued…. And aren’t you guys forbidden from forking any HDJs? I ate at Hillbilly Hotdogs in Lavalette a month or so a go. It was good.

  10. we are not forbidden from forking WVHDJs…that is a self-imposed restriction affecting Daniel only. I guess he feels unworthy compared to Stanton.

  11. Definitely try to give BRB another chance. I’ve been there several times, and it’s been delicious and glitch-free every time. It’s one of my fav places in Charleston (and I can assure y’all I’m not snooty). Perhaps it was just an off day…

  12. Colette- I believe (hope) it is simply a case of having a dish on the menu that just plain doesn’t work…and as luck would have it, that’s the dish I ordered. Since my friend’s jerk sandwich was so yummy, I knew it wasn’t all bad, and thus the three forks. Had I rated it solely on the orrichiette I ordered, I would have given it only one.

    I also had the ravioli appetizer on another occasion. While it was tasty, I felt I should have received some Preparation H to soothe my sore behind – it was way too expensive for what was put on my plate.

    But, as always, that is just MY opinion!

  13. WV only needs one hot dog blog and since Susan only eats plain hot dogs (due to her mountain of food restrictions) I don’t know what she would review. I also don’t mind yielding some respect to a blog that helped boost our readership.

  14. Okay, I just totally cracked up at Susan’s Preparation H comment.

  15. I’ve eaten at the Bridge Road Bistro once, and I liked it. Maybe they were having a bad night. It’s more than a little overpriced. I’ll be saving for a long time for a return visit.

  16. i’ve been twice, once for lunch right after they had opened. it was forgettable. and by that i mean i’ve forgotten what I had.

    second time was for dinner. i had a different experience, but my party was not anonymous, and my food photo-ing & blogging was not a secret.

    third time was recently for lunch. and the ahi tuna salad was fairly delicious. good mix of texture and temperature; tuna cooked perfectly.

  17. logic escaped me…

    i’ve been three times…

  18. Pingback: Different Strokes for Different Folks - Bridge Road Bistro « Fork You…

  19. BRB is the closest thing Charleston has to a really gourmet restaurant. Their food is excellent and their presentation is superb. They have excellent wait staff.
    For what one gets it is not over priced. In someplace like Atlanta, NYC or Cincy, you’d pay twice as much and it might not be as good.

    The first time I went there I really wanted it to suck since I have a really low opinion of places in Charleston that try to be high brow, but it didn’t suck.
    If you’re not used to really good gourmet restaurant food, it might seem too expensive and not enough food. If that’s the case, head on out to Ryans or Texas Steakhouse and pig out on meat an potatos.

  20. I challenge sagacious hillbilly to eat that orrichiette pasta dish and then tell me it’s gourmet & excellent. I had no problem with the price, if the dish lived up to it.

    Ron would MUCH rather go to Ryan’s or Texas Steakhouse….but I don’t eat steak and potatoes.

    If you think BRB is good, you should try south hills market & cafe. I think you would be impressed.

  21. So Hills Mrk and whatever is kinda lame. Trendy unoriginal sandwiches and bland deli stuff that’s mediocre at best. . . all overpriced.

  22. But, Mr. Hillbilly, have you been there for dinner???

    To each his own….but I think the half ham & brie sandwich with a side of pasta salad and a giant cookie at shm&c for about $7 is a good deal. I love that sandwich so much, I have dreams about it. But maybe I wouldn’t be impressed with the rest of the menu since I get the same thing every time I go there.

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  24. I work at Bridge Road Bistro as an apprentice chef under Chef Paco and i do believe that there is great potential for improvement if we can find devoted workers. The main problem is the consistancy of people comeing and going through that place due to family matters or they just come in not wanting to work so we send them on their way. It is a great overall work environment and we try and treat each other more like we would family than co-workers. But if you want to do a review of the Bistro than i recomend not just judging off the lunch menu and try the dinner menu too. Personally i recomend the Ribeye or the chicken penne pasta. The new desert menu comes out in a couple weeks and i hope you come in and enjoy it.

  25. Geoffrey-

    Good point. Staffing can make or break a place. Staffing is the main reason you can’t assume all locations of a particular chain will give you a similar experience.

    Even after my forgettable lunches at BRB, I am curious to try the dinner menu.

    Thanks for your input!

  26. My family and I ate at the BRB this past Friday evening, and we will never go back. Service was horrible and slow. When our entrees finally arrived (an hour and 1/2 after being seated), they served our toddler RAW chicken. Not slightly undercooked, but thrown in the pan long enough for a millimeter of the exterior to look cooked while the inside was still out-of-the-fridge pink.
    Even if the food had been as great as some suggest (which it was not), we still think that serving raw chicken is worthly of the BRB going off our re-visit list.

  27. I’ve been to BRB exactly once, with a large party that took up their entire back room. I also wanted it to suck, in a way, but not a soul in our party was disappointed (except with the wines, which were unexceptional and overpriced as at most restaurants around here).

    NOBODY grills fish as well as I do. It may be the one culinary skill I have mastered, so I am always very wary about ordering fish because it’s almost invariably overcooked. My salmon that night was perfection on a plate, and that was true for everyone else who ordered it. The sides were ample and tasty, too.

    Also, everything for our large party arrived at the same time, and absolutely nothing had cooled off between grill and table. That alone deserves high praise for a party so large.

    And one more thing: A local guy named Tom Holcomb was performing that night. A real talent. Half of our party kept making trips out front just to hear him play guitar and sing.

    The place is otherwise a bit rich for my blood, but for me there was a lot to like about it. I’d call it four forks minimum, probably four and a half.

  28. Jeff-

    I used to enjoy listening to Tom Holcomb almost weekly at the Fifth Quarter bar with friends years ago. I agree – he’s great!

  29. I have only eaten here once. It was a couple of years ago, but the experience is still fresh in my mind. I ordered some sort of prawn pasta with tomato sauce dish, and got it to go (I feel this is worth noting as, for some mystical reason, to-gos are never as good). The drive back to the house was less than two minutes, and I arrived at the restaurant before the food was done, so I know the food wasn’t waiting long.

    The pasta and sauce wasn’t mixed together, which I’ve never experienced before. So the first couple of bites, I had dry, plain noodles. That’s not even the worst part, though. The shrimp were cold (the pasta it was sitting on was warm), and I do mean shrimp. Large shrimp, but not the prawns I ordered by any means. Also, the shrimp had tails still attached. I know this is sometimes common, and I normally don’t mind, but keep in mind I was eating a pasta dish. I had to dig through the pasta to grab the slippery, sauce-covered shrimp. I tried the best I could, but the whole meal I was spitting out small fragments of shells. I would have thrown the whole thing away, if it wasn’t for the $17.50 price tag.
    And, like you, that sad little pasta dish was all I got. No salad, no bread, no… warm shrimp….
    Haven’t been back since, and will never go there again.

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