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Aug 16, 2005 08:21 AM

Bistro 5 - Inconsistent Service

  • w

We have just moved to West Medford and thought we would try out the area's alleged culinary gem Bistro 5.

We came away with a kind of "hmmmm" vibe, and apologizing to our guests for having taken them there. We had the 5 course $65 tasting menu with a $22 wine pairing. The wine pairing was absolutely excellent, and it was easily the best part of the meal. The food was OK. Mushroom soup, followed by rabbit, followed by Quail, followed by Lamb and then your choice of dessert. One of the problems, was that I was particularly underwhelmed by the Mushroom soup which was both cold (we had watched it waiting to be served for a long time), and had in it a burnt piece of toast whose thorough carbonization marred the flavor of the soup.

The service was scrappy, at best, and not of an appropriate level of professionalism for the establishment the Bistro 5 aspires to be. For example there was a very odd allocation of flatware. Every course each diner (remember we were all eating the same dish) would receive a different number of knives and forks and spoons, which were then placed randomly around the placesetting. My father led the pack averaging 2 knives and a few forks each course, whilst my husband only managed an average of one knife, but it was imaginatively placed anywhere but the customary right-hand side.

So all in all with the exception of the wine-pairing, it is not somewhere I would return (even though I live very close).

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  1. I'm actually glad to hear that someone else had a less than expected experience at Bistro 5. I was beginning to wonder if we were the only ones. My wife and I tried this place 3 times. First time was pretty un-noteworthy but since it was was shortly after they opened we gave the place some slack. The 2nd time was a few months later and in truth the service and food quality improved somewhat as did the prices but we weren't wowed at all. The last time was late last year. We went on a lark because it's very close to home and figured they improved based on what other Chowhounds said. We were deeply disappointed in the taste of the food (bland) and the prices (very high for a neighborhood type eatery). I realize the trendy "bistro" type restaurants command a premium but neither my wife and I thought that the value was there. I can't cite specific examples since it was a while ago but we both came away agreeing that we won't back again. Too many other very good establishments around.

    Some opinionating...
    I think that these types of places located outside of Boston proper try hard to come across as exclusive (high prices for example) and haute cuisine a little too hard. Rather, they should try to accomodate what the general population of the city/town they're located in and leave the high brow stuff to L'Espalier and places like that. An excellent example is Gargoyle's in Davis Sq. The Davis Sq. area supports that price/quality structure and people have come to expect certain service,price,quality etc. I don't think that area of Medford is such a place.

    Just my 2cents...

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sal Monella

      When we tried Bistro 5 (about a year ago) with two other couples, we were all seriously underwhelmed by both the food and the service, especially the service. Nothing was horrible, but there are too many other places that offer better value for what we considered a high price. We just chalked it up to experience and haven't been back.

      I agree with your "opinionating." Even Gargoyles has a week night bar menu for folks seeking a less-expensive (but high quality) option.

      1. re: Sal Monella

        I've never been to Bistroo 5 so maybe my 2 cents isn't worthy here. I just wanted to comment that maybe the Medford you know, and thus your opinion that it might be too high brow enought, might not be the Medford that is emerging. Just like the Danish Pastry House, Medford's eateries are changing as the community shifts in demographic. Not good, nor bad. Just is.

        I have been looking forward to eating at Bistro 5 but now I'm hesitant. Oh well.

        1. re: Eat Well

          I think you should try it for yourself and report back on what you experienced. Don't get me wrong, I did not want to denigrate Medford. It definitely is up and coming akin to what Somerville went thru during the '90's. Perhaps it's a question of timing for Bistro 5?

          1. re: Sal Monella

            You're right. I should give it a try. I'll report back.

            1. re: Sal Monella

              I've been to Bisto 5 a couple of times and really enjoyed the place. Good food and nice atmosphere without the hassles of the city.

              As for Medford, it has many personalities. But West Medford shares as much in common with neighboring Arlington and Winchester as it does with Somerville in my opinion. Although lower prices would be nice, I would guess they are not pricing themselves out of the neighborhood.

        2. Funny--I was just about to post about our Saturday night Bistro 5 dinner when I saw this. We had a fantastic experience. Two of us shared a five-course tasting menu plus wine pairing, plus an extra appetizer (oysters), 1/2 order of gnocchi and extra wine.

          The tasting menu was the same as described above except that the first course was gazpacho. We thought that the food, presentation and service were excellent. Each course was delicious and looked lovely on the plate. The waiter was friendly, attentive (without hovering) and knowledgeable about the wine. We loved it and are eager to return, as are the friends who were with us. The meal was not inexpensive but the experience was so good we felt that we got good value. Go figure!

          4 Replies
          1. re: doctor_mama

            I'm glad you enjoyed Bistro 5. While there is obviously disagreement, this is what's great about Chowhound. You get a lot of honest feedback without a hidden agenda (albeit, there can be agents out here pumping up or cutting down a place). I'm constantly reviewing the site to get ideas and opinions.

            1. re: Sal Monella

              Yes, exactly. It's a daily habit. I really enjoy the impassioned yet courteous give and take.

            2. re: doctor_mama

              I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I knew you had read my very positive review, and I was worried, reading these reviews, that you might have had a similarly unpleasant experience. So happy to hear your experience was closer to mine.


              1. re: curiousbaker

                Yes, it was largely your positive review that sent us there, and we were not disappointed.

            3. I live quite near Bistro 5 and go there several times a year, and have never had bad service. The food is very good, parking is plentiful, and I think it's a very romantic place for a date.