Restaurant: Bantam Bistro – 432 Bantam Road, Litchfield, Connecticut

Bantam Bistro is located within the historic Litchfield Inn. We went to check it out a few weekends ago and, while the scenic views and gorgeous interior are beautiful, they can’t quite distract you enough from a disappointing dining experience.

Atmosphere

Bantam Bistro is located right off the main lobby of the Litchfield Inn through a set of wide French doors. The restaurant is modest in size, with dark woods, dark khaki colored walls and touches of modern lighting. A row of booths sits along the far wall tucked individually behind arches. We were seated in one of these booths and they have a very private and segmented feel – a nice touch.

House made Gnocchi
House made Gnocchi

Food

We had our fill on this menu, ordering:

  • House made Gnocchi: local zucchini, peas, arugula pesto and truffled pecorino
  • Crisp Calamari:  pesto pomodoro, asiago aioli, tossed with chili and garlic
  • Grilled Pork Flat Iron: fennel sausage and broccoli rabe, creamy polenta and a smokey demi
  • Pan Seared Scallops: cauliflower-potato puree, cippolini and mushroom ragout
  • Grilled Steelhead Trout: shallots and haricot vert, almond basmati and a crab and chive buerre blanc
Crisp Calamari
Crisp Calamari

It took FOREVER to get our food. However, when it did arrive, everything tasted great. The house made gnocchi was delicious, coated in lots of melted pecorino cheese and tender vegetables. The gnocchi was very plump and absorbed a lot of the oil from the melted cheese. The result was a very flavorful dish.

Grilled Pork Flat Iron
Grilled Pork Flat Iron

The grilled pork flat iron came out as grilled pork sliced and placed over polenta, sausage and broccoli rabe. That’s right – two types of meat in one dish – I was in heaven. The pork was very heavily peppered and the fennel sausage gave this entree a little kick to it. This was a big dish and even I was full after finishing it.

All of us thoroughly enjoyed our food, although the overarching comment was that everything was very heavily seasoned.

Pan Seared Scallops
Pan Seared Scallops

Service

The service is where this meal went south. We had a reservation and requested a booth. When we arrived, the restaurant was fairly empty, with only a few occupied tables. However, all the occupied tables were booths, leaving no empty spaces for us. We were told it would be a five minute wait. Ok – no big deal at all. We gladly said we’d wait a little bit for a booth and the hostess told us we could sit in the room next door while we waited. Nearly 20 minutes later, we were curious what was going on. We discovered the table had been cleaned and ready for us for 15 minutes. The hostess completely forgot to let us know.

Our waitress wasn’t much better. The service was unprofessional, sloppy and slow. The waitress had poured nearly a full glass of wine before remembering she had to offer us a taste first. We had to proactively ask for water refills numerous times and at the end of the meal we were never asked if we wanted dessert. Instead, the check came and we got the impression it was time to leave. Our food also took an eternity to arrive at the table. I don’t know what the kitchen was doing since the restaurant was practically empty, but they need to get their act together.

Value

The prices range from $10-$14 for appetizers and average in the low $20 range for entrees. If you put the prices up against the quality of food, the value at Bantam Bistro is great. However, add in the low quality service and I’m not happy to be paying these prices.

The Verdict

Bantam Bistro serves up some great food with terrible service. The entire meal, while delicious, was underscored by continuously shoddy service that detracted from the overall experience. Bantam Bistro needs to get its act together. If this is how things are when the place is practically empty, I’d hate to see what it’s like on a busy night. If you’re around the Litchfield Inn and hungry, keep going. I don’t recommend Bantam Bistro and will not be going back.

Bantam Bistro on Urbanspoon

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