Tuesday, January 19, 2010
P.F. Chang's China Bistro - Virginia Beach Town Center
"Bistro" may be one of the most inaccurately overused terms used in the restaurant business today. As most know, the term itself is French in origin. According to Merriam Webster it is "a small or unpretentious restaurant" or even better is the Wikipedia definition of "a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting". Everyone thinks they are a "bistro" today. It's the new cool. Have you ever been to Todd Jurich's Bistro? Fabulous fine dining, no doubt about it. A bistro? Well....not really. P.F. Chang's combination of "China" and "Bistro" in their name takes this stretching of the definition to new heights!
Sunday night was accompanied by a torrential downpour, not my favorite going out weather. The Town Center has tons of free parking, but in garages, which require you to walk some distance to your selected venue. Lucky for me, I married a gent, and was dropped off at the front door. It was standing room only. Even the front vestibule was crowded. After hearing some rain drenched people being told the wait times, I thanked my lucky stars that I made reservations, and wondered if they would be able to deliver on them. After checking in I headed to the crowded bar.
I had perused the menu online before coming and knew exactly what I wanted to drink; the Orange Peel Manhattan. Just as my husband arrived, more luck shined on me and the only two people leaving the bar were seated directly in front of where I was standing. We sat down and I placed my order. After hearing my order, the bartender asked me if I really "love, love, love bourbon?". I said I do. I am after all, a girl born and raised in the south. Apparently quiet a few people order that beverage having no idea that it is basically straight bourbon with a splash of flavor. It ends up being sent right back to the bar. Sissies! I am a fairly devoted Jack Daniel's Manhattan drinker, of the standard variety with sweet vermouth. I was looking forward to a designer version. It was outstanding. Orange citrus flavor goes well with bourbon. Try a classic Old Fashioned if you like this combo. On a funny note (to me anyway) my husband was invisible to the bartender. He took my order, made the drink, served it and walked away. Hey buddy, the guy who will be tipping you would like a beverage too! Chang's also offers 40+ wines by the glass, categorizing the wines on their wine list by flavor category , varietals and intensity. Nice. They also maintain a 7oz. pour for all wines and claim their wines are served at the ideal temperatures of 62 degrees for reds and degrees for most whites. Not that I can measure the temperature for accuracy, but the fact that they make the claim is impressive to me.
We were called for our table promptly at 7pm. I was impressed. So many places take reservations and are unable to manage table flow in order to fulfill them. This scored high points with me. We were meeting another couple who was running late and decided to order an appetizer while waiting. We started with Salt & Pepper Calamari, which is calamari tossed with scallions and the house salt and pepper mix. It also had a dipping sauce that was similar to a sweet and sour sauce. These were also very good. Light on the breading, lightly fried, cooked just right.
Shortly everyone arrived and we began to order our entrees. Chang's has jumped on the bandwagon of restaurants adding nutritional values to their menus. I really like this, especially for chains whose menu's and entrée preparations don't vary to the degree a private restaurant might. Unfortunately, the corresponding information was an eye opener. At first glance, the data wasn't too alarming, but as I looked closer I realized that every entrée had a serving size of at least 2, and some were up to 4! Please note that there are their regular entrées, not those off their P.F. Chang's for two menu. For example, a 5 oz serving of Orange Peel chicken has 333 calories, 15 grams of fat, 770 mg. of sodium and is a serving size for 3. That's 5 ounces people! So, a single serving size is 1.67 ounces? Seriously? And what if you eat the entire thing? 999 calories, 45 grams of fat and 2310 mg of sodium. No wonder you're thirsty the rest of the night! This is one of their lighter dishes too. I played it safe and ordered Asian Grilled Salmon, which was completely disappointing and overcooked. The server didn't ask how I wanted it cooked and I was too busy socializing to think of it. Everyone else ordered their entrées and raved about how great they were. I had too much information! Ignorance would have been bliss!
Our server did a nice job and the food service was very quick. No waiting for the appetizer or entrées. We were kind of a slow table with people arriving late and at different times, but he never made me feel rushed. I appreciate that.
Overall, P.F. Chang's was a pleasant "chain" surprise. Nice atmosphere, great service, good cocktail and wine options, tasty meals. Well worth a visit!
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
4551 Virginia Beach Blvd
Virginia Beach, VA 23462