Bistro 1491 is fresh but not fast

Bistro 1491 BLTThe front of the menu at Bistro 1491 offers up this phrase: “Fresh, Quality, and Unpretentious.”

First, kudos for accurately spelling unpretentious. (I’ve seen my share of menus with much easier words misspelled.)

Second, my experience allows me to corroborate all three claims, if I’m understanding them correctly.

Third, why would one create a slogan in the form of adjective, noun, adjective—an unparallel construction to begin with—without providing the word that’s being modified? (I know, I know—it must be tough to be me…) But really, how hard would it have been to create a slogan that makes grammatical sense? Such as…

“Bistro 1491 serves fresh food of high quality in an unpretentious atmosphere”?

Or, if you prefer phrases to sentences, at least make the words in the list the same part of speech. How about

“Fresh, fine, and unpretentious.”

I had planned to lunch at the Sunnyside Café, since it was the next restaurant on my list. But when we arrived, a note on the door explained that the café was closed for renovation, so I will just have to wait until it reopens.

George was supposed to join us, but his oven broke, so he had to wait at home for the repair person. Poor George.

So Dave and I walked down a few doors until we reached Bistro 1491, which, by the strangest coincidence, is located at 1491 Solano Avenue. (What are the odds, right?) Now when you hear the number 1491, what comes to mind? I immediately thought of the non-fiction work by Charles Mann of the same name that chronicles pre-Columbian America. But that may just be me…

A sign on the window revealed that the restaurant was seeking experienced wait staff, which should have been a warning sign. Both working waitresses offered to seat us, the first one on the east side of the restaurant, and the second one on the west side. And indeed Bistro 1491 appears to be two small establishments divided by a wall down the middle with walkways in the front and back—rather bagel shaped. (Though admittedly that would be a rather rectangular bagel.)

We opted for the west side, which was quieter due to fewer diners at the time. I was happy to be presented with a tall glass of ice water immediately. Because the weather was a bit on the chilly side, I ordered coffee, which I rarely do at lunch. And it arrived soon after I ordered it. Then we had to decide whether to order from their all-day breakfast menu or stick with lunch items. I figured I should stick to lunch, since this whole project is titled Lunching Down Solano, not just Eating Down Solano.

I chose a BLT with fries. Dave waffled between the turkey brie sandwich and the caramelized pork sandwich, but decided on the turkey after our waitress admitted it was her favorite. She took our order at 12:14. I know because Dave reminded me to keep track. (It’s kind of his thing.)

While we waited, we wondered about the décor. Why a framed Time magazine cover of Secretariat? Our waitress didn’t know either. So that must remain a mystery.

The bathroom was serviceable and perfectly clean, if not roomy.Bistro 1491 turkey brie sandwich

I felt sorry for the two waitresses. The place was pretty full, and it seats about 60. Despite the odds, our waitress did check on us and refill my water and coffee while we waited.

And waited.

Our food arrived at 12:41. Twenty-seven minutes might be an acceptable waiting period at dinner time, when you are more likely to be having a leisurely meal and your hunger can be whetted with bread while you await your entrée. But at lunch, when most folks expect to be done in less than an hour, it’s a bit on the long side. Maybe they are short-staffed in the kitchen as well.

My sandwich was good (once I added mustard), and the fries were piping hot. Dave enjoyed his sandwich, though I considered it a tad boring. His salad dressing was sweet and heavy, and I detected a raspberry flavor; but the waitress confirmed that it was just supposed to be a vinaigrette. Neither of us liked the salad, so I shared my fries. Because I am a good and generous wife.

Dave and I are not particularly slow eaters, especially when we know we have work to do, so we finished eating by 1:00. By 1:16 we still hadn’t gotten our check. Dave’s response was, “It’s almost European.” (Maybe that’s what they’re going for?) So we took our check up to the front and paid. Because there was no host/hostess or cashier, our hardworking waitress rang us up.

I’ll probably give Bistro 1491 another chance at some future date—possibly for breakfast. Maybe by then they’ll get the help they need.


One thought on “Bistro 1491 is fresh but not fast

  1. 1491 is MUCH better for dinner. Have the pear salad, and any of the three pork belly dishes. The pork belly with jicama slaw is a starter as big as many other restaurant’s entrees.

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