Anniversary Dinner

Tonight my husband took me for the first time ever to a winery restaurant for our anniversary dinner. He chose the Twisting V Grille at Vance Vineyards. It is close by, and we’ve wanted to try it out for a while. (No, we did NOT consume any alcohol!)

Let me begin my review by saying we had a pleasant, quiet evening, and I would recommend the restaurant to you. Let me follow that by saying, for some reason unknown to me, this critique has been writing itself since we walked in the door of the restaurant.

Upon arrival we were immediately greeted with a request for patio or dining room seating. It was a little cool, so we requested dining room seating. We were seated at a table for two one table away from the only other seated table of two. As I sat, my eyes were drawn to the two glasses on the table–one for water and one for wine. The table setting would have received a five-star rating if the glasses hadn’t been marred by hard water spots and smudges. This took my perception of a formal dinner down to a meal in a local coffee shop. If I’m eating formally, I expect crystal clear glasses.

The waitress came, took our drink orders, and promptly returned with a tea and a diet soda. She then took our appetizer and meal order, and went on her way.

Enter another couple, seated at a table for two, right beside us. Now there are three tables seated in an otherwise empty dining room. A LARGE room, mind you, and yet we’re sitting in very close proximity because all of the two top tables are side by side in a row.

As the waitress brings our Toasted Ravioli appetizer, I notice a commotion at the table seated before us. The gentleman at the table is swatting at, and speaking very unkindly to, some obnoxious gnats. These gnats seemed to be enjoying their time at the winery, too. They liked to visit and linger at each table. As a server approached this table, I noticed the cloth covering their tray had a large, visible wine stain.

By the time our salads arrived, out drinks were nearly empty. While we munched like rabbits on our tasty salad, the waitress refilled our glasses. My tea returned full, but iceless. This remained true for the 2nd refill also. Add to that the fact I’m still disturbed by the water spots…

When our entrees arrived the restaurant was down to two tables. Us and the couple sitting right next to us. The atmosphere was relaxed, quiet, and the dimmed lighting added to the atmosphere. Until someone turned the lights up.

Our meals were good. I had the Greek, a pasta in a light white sauce with olives, artichoke hearts, spinach, and chicken. It was an excellent combination. The portion was enough that I’ll be taking it for lunch tomorrow!

After dinner I took a trip to the ladies room, which turned out to be very clean. However, I was greeted at the sink by a swarm of gnats and the step-to-open trash can didn’t work. So, after batting away gnats, I had to lift the trash can lid with my clean hands.

The server brought me a box to take my leftover pasta home in. It was quite messy transferring the pasta to the box because of the parmesan sprinkled around the edges of the plate for looks. A truly “formal” dining experience would have ended with the leftovers being boxed in the kitchen and returned neatly to the table.

You should probably be told that I am a harsh critic of dining experiences. I went in to this experience with high expectations. I left the restaurant having consumed a good meal, average to slightly above average service, and a $50 bill for two meals. My husband was very satisfied with the experience.

What would I change? Linens and pre-set tabletops should be pristine. No water spots or stains. Glasses should remain more than half full for the whole dining experience and ice is a must! While I have fought gnats in my kitchen on more than one occasion this year, they are unacceptable in a high-end establishment. Seeing as this was an anniversary dinner and we had reservations it would have made sense to me to be seated a little more secluded–especially when a dining room is 90% empty. There is no excuse for the only three tables being sat so close together.

As I stated from the beginning, I would recommend this establishment. We will probably dine there again some day. I will have an entirely different set of expectations, though!