Atmosphere: Strikingly Lovely
Menu: Elegantly Complex
Trout: Deliciously Smoky
Protein: Steamily Overcooked
Service: Enthusiastically Uninformed
She Said: Diss-a-point-ment. After this dinner, I felt the way a parent must feel after their child backs into the basketball post because they were looking at their phone.
Let’s start this way: Preston’s is an upscale restaurant located in the beautiful Inn at Virginia Tech. It’s a lovely location inside the hotel – Blacksburg’s nicest place to sleep. The dining room is very hotel typical – nothing overly fancy but very comfortable.
The service was attentive and friendly, though our 12-year old waitress didn’t know what kind of salmon was being offered and didn’t know what ‘coho’ salmon was. Fine. But don’t hem and haw, just say “I’ll go find out.” Other than that, she was very nice.
We started with a smoked trout crostini appetizer. It was tasty and made me excited about the rest of the meal. My father and I ordered the cedar plank grilled salmon with mushrooms, cheese grits, and a cranberry chutney. Not imaginative and certainly not hard to screw up.
The salmon was way overcooked (burned my tougue on my first bite which should NEVER happen with salmon) and the ‘cranberry chutney’ definitely came out of a can. The mushrooms and cheese grits were actually the best thing on my plate. Every item on the menu sounded good, but the execution was by moronic, bored, or very high chefs. Actually, high people care about food so I’m going with moronic, bored or lazy.
I really had high hopes for Preston’s and was excited by it, but now I’m just sad and annoyed. I hope they improve, but for $17+ a plate, I doubt I’ll be back.
He Said: I don’t know a ton about fine dining, but I know enough to recognize it when I see it. Preston’s checks a lot of the boxes on the list that I would expect to find at an establishment that endeavors to be classy. The chairs are super comfy. The service staff is well-dressed and good at their jobs. The decor is pleasant to look at and the surrounding noise is kept to a minimum. The bar serves fine wines and nothing better than Sam Adams (typical for “fine dining”).
When we started the meal, everything seemed extremely promising. We were both hoping that Blacksburg could come through and impress the highly discerning parents in town for the weekend. The appetizer came – smoked trout on crackers with some cheese, dill and other adornments.
Perhaps the best appetizer I’ve ever had.
Then came the main course, and everyone was suddenly underwhelmed. Each and every piece of meat was way overcooked. I asked for my meat medium-rare, and the slices of beef were barely pink inside with no juices left to speak of. It was, in fact, just as well-done as our guest who asked for her’s to be cooked to medium. Meanwhile, our second guest specifically asked that his salmon be cooked just about as little as possible. Despite the clear instructions, it still came out of the heat at least five minutes too late.
These criticisms might seem nit-picky and stuck-up, but I assure you that they are not. If I were at Applebee’s, I wouldn’t care so much if my meal was overdone so long as it was tasty (which this was). But if you’re going to charge $20 per entree, you’d better be able to at least cook the meal to the proper temperature – a feat I had mastered on my backyard Weber by the age of 14.
Finally, the dessert. I sampled each of the three on the table – flourless chocolate cake, creme brulee and bread pudding – and wasn’t impressed with any of them. Which is a surprise, because I’ve been to Preson’s several times for their lunch buffet and gone back for third’s of the bread pudding. In fact, I’d wager to say the food at the breakfast and lunch buffets are just as good as what they put out for dinner. So if I were you, I’d skip dinner and try it for lunch.
At least until they find a cook better than a 14-year-old at cooking beef.