Brontë Bistro was originally a café that focused on lunch and lattés at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. It’s always had an interesting menu and, over a decade ago, it expanded its space, its hours, and its offerings. It’s always been a pretty space centered on blond woods, charming bar area, and bright annex space. However, its Achilles heel has been the service. For a couple of years, there was the Chris Rock look-a-like who possessed neither Rock’s intelligence nor wit. At various times, there has been a dreary female server – different faces, but same attitude – who acted like she’d rather be anywhere but working – really? How about quitting so that a smart, enthusiastic unemployed person could work. Fortunately, this has eventually happened, though the best servers have distinguished themselves quickly and usually moved on – to other restaurants with greater tips, or to positions in their professional discipline, or college/graduate studies? Right now, the service is good, though I wish the servers (and this is practically true everywhere except top flight restaurants) would clear everyone’s plates at the same time, rather than piece meal, because the diner still eating is made to feel like he or she is somehow slow or inconvenient. I realize servers are trying to be efficient, but it’s rude.
The first strange element this past Friday was that there were open tables in both the original space and many in the larger annex, but there was a twenty minute wait. We didn’t have a problem with the wait, but other potential patrons did and it made no sense that they couldn’t be immediately seated since Joseph-Beth is not the hopping place it was a decade ago on Friday nights, though it improved about three years ago. The other off-kilter element was the food.
I don’t know if they’ve abandoned this or not. The breakfast menu is strong, though a number of items are about a dollar higher than they’d be at other comparable places like Mokka in Newport or the First Watch chain. The Black and Bleu (blackened chicken and bleu cheese) salad, the Dué (chicken and tuna salads) salad, and the Pear and Bleu Cheese salad (it’s still good, but it’s been on the menu more than a dozen years and I started making it at home a year before they did) are all good choices. I’ve also enjoyed the Spinach Sauté, the Salmon Burger, and Neil and others have always liked the Quiche of the day. Lunch and dinner dishes are pretty much the same, but the dinner ones cost about a buck more.
|Skillet Shrimp and Cheesy Grits|
|Chicken Pot Pie|
So, what is the miracle behind Brontë Bistro? That would be the coolest, what was formerly locally owned, store in Cincinnati, i.e. Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Now that it’s been bought out, the coolest, locally owned store in Cincinnati is High Street furniture and accessories store.