Brightwood Bistro, Brightwood

I would bet some pretty serious money that I’m the only person in the world to ever eat at both BBQ World (Burke, VA) and Brightwood Bistro – not just on the same day, but for the same meal (dinner)!

Things were pretty empty here on a Tuesday night, and I really wanted to sit at the bar and order off the main menu. Surprisingly, I was told that at the bar, only the bar menu is available, and if you want the main menu you have to sit in the dining room.

So I ended up sitting alone at a table, about ten feet to the left of where I’d been at the bar, and pretty much got ignored for the whole meal even though the relatively large dining room had about five people in it.

When I order a Corona ($5), you know something is wrong with the beverage program, but that’s about the best they had. And yes, I took my lime wedge and poked it into the bottle to kill the (lack of) taste.

The Crab Cake ($12) was a really nice surprise – jumbo lump meat, with minimal breading, and served with a “micro salad” and Old Bay mayo on the side. The micro in the salad refers to the size of the salad itself, and not that it contains micro greens. This crab cake was expensive because it was small, but it was really very good, and if you don’t mind the cost, I can recommend it.

For an entree, I ordered the Whole Bone Fish ($22) which lived up to its name. The menu lists it as red snapper, and it was heavily battered and deeply fried, resulting in the type of batter you break off like tree bark. It was presented vertically, curled around the plate, with some drab curried peppers and some outstanding fried plantains which made the dish. Despite its attractive presentation and gentle price, I wouldn’t order this again because it was truly ridden with bones, way overcooked, and close to being devoid of flavor.

This two-course meal took forever – it must have been close to ninety minutes – and I was thankful that I had my cell phone to tiddle with in this empty restaurant. This was one of those meals where you’re just happy to get out the door and go home, even though the food itself wasn’t so awful.

However, I had a Groupon, and used it. When the check arrived, my server had added a 20% tip on the pre-Groupon amount without saying a word. While I don’t have a problem with this, I suspect others might, so beware. Making matters worse, I put my credit card in the folder, and when it was brought back to me, the detailed receipt (the one that had the 20% added) was gone, and all that was left was a summary receipt for me to sign with the subtotal filled in, and both the tip line and the total line left blank. Again, I wouldn’t have a problem with this if something had been said, but nothing was – someone who mindlessly threw their credit card in without looking at the bill might not have known that the 20% had been added, and might leave 20% more.

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