Monday, January 30, 2012

The Problem With Sprig and Vine is That Their Food is Delicious

It's true; we've talked about it.  This is a problem for a few reasons.  For starters, I think about their cauliflower banh mi more often than I care to admit- even going so far as to strategically plan errands that will bring me to the area.  But, more unfortunately, because barring one employee, the restaurant staff seems not to be able to get their act together in any way other than the food.  There is rarely, if ever, a welcome of any kind when you enter.  On our latest visit, in fact, we were the first customers of the day and were greeted with 3 stares, silence, and then..."Two for lunch?"  Sometimes you just want to hear a hello, you know?

Our favorite waitress Jackie notwithstanding, the waitstaff is no more warm or friendly than the host and the service lacks the general polish that the beautiful dining room and outstanding food deserve.

But the food?  Look out!

We started with the chilled roasted gold beet crostini with black beluga lentils and smoked cashew ricotta.  The contrasting flavors and textures of all of the chilled ingredients atop the smooth cheese and crisp crostini was outstanding and hearty.

We shared the butterhead lettuce salad: watermelon radish, candystripe beet, grilled avocado, pickled red onion, fried quinoa, citrus-almond dressing.  So fresh and crisp, I especially appreciated the dressing that was creamy but light.  However, it would have been preferable for the serving to have been halved in the kitchen.

For lunch we each had our favorite cauliflower banh mi: pickled carrot & jalapeno, shredded lettuce,
cilantro & mint with lemongrass aïoli.  Just writing the words makes me want another one!

And, of course, a side of the kennebec potato wedges with their awesome grain mustard aoili (and ketchup by request).

Outstanding meal, per usual.  We actually decided to skip dessert; I was disappointed to realize that they still haven't updated their selections.  It wouldn't have mattered, I suppose, as we couldn't have stayed another minute; the dining room was absolutely freezing.  I don't bring this up for the sheer purpose of  knit-picking, but because I really want S & V to succeed and I'm worried that may not be the case, as every time I visit the dining room is less than a quarter full.  I assume that, more recently, this has something to do with the fact that it's winter and the area of New Hope isn't exactly bustling in the frigid temperatures.  But guess what?  It doesn't help that inside your restaurant is just as bad; please set the heat to an appropriate temperature.  Although we enjoyed our mouth-watering, drool-inducing sandwiches immensely, the cold was literally distracting.  Our fingertips were tingling, our legs and feet blocks of ice.  Even our warm drinks cooled practically immediately upon being served.  Interestingly, when our meal was over we were surprised to find that the front of the restaurant was significantly warmer than the back, where all of the few diners had inexplicably been seated.  Did it really not occur to the staff to seat diners in the warmest area of the dining room?

The fact of the matter is that the food is the hard part and Sprig & Vine consistently exceeds my culinary expectations.  The other missteps are unfortunate and constant, but if they could be checked the restaurant would be flawless.

1 comment:

  1. The food looks incredible — someplace I want to visit on my next trip East. But the conditions sound unpleasant. Have you ever mentioned the heat issue to the staff? Though, you'd think they were cold, too. But maybe the heat is uneven.

    We took a cooking class in a room that was like a deep freeze, and everyone was wearing coats and hats — except the teacher — cause it was real warm in the kitchen area. Tough luck, though, they had to raise the heat. Maybe these people will too, if they realize it keeps diners away.


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