Awe, the Sundance Film Festival. A time when out-of-towners pack Park City’s Main Street, turning every bar into a pretentious hang out and every vacant building into a prestigious night club. Personally, I love the energetic crowd that transforms our little mountain town during the ten-day festival, mostly because it makes Park City feel even more like I’m visiting another state. But with the excellent people-watching comes its downsides, too, like impossible reservations at some of the best restaurants. So with most of my favorite Park City restaurants completely booked or closed for private parties, I decided to try something new for a quick dinner in between two Sundance Film Festival premieres. We picked Bistro 412, right in the heart of Main Street.
Bistro 412 is a cozy restaurant with whimsically cliche French decorations lining the walls. Overall it’s warm and inviting, with a friendly vibe. The wine list has a lot of options with bottles ranging from $22 to $400, as well as a range of cocktails (cleverly listed as “real drinks”), beers and after-dinner drinks. The dinner menu is dainty but covers a lot of ground with three different sizes of dishes :: starters, smaller fare (small plates) and larger fare (entrees). After debating to order the lamb shank (braised with root puree, sage brussel sprouts and huckleberry chutney) or the duck 2-ways (pan roasted duck breast with confit leg, stewed lentils, candied carrots and walnut butter), we opted to order several small plates to share between us.
The first plate to arrive was the quiche filled with smoked onions, fontina cheese and spinach. Barely warm, somehow the flavor of cheese or spinach wasn’t distinguishable. Instead, the texture of cheese was the most prominent characteristic. The crust, however, got points for good flakiness.
Next to arrive at our table was the “Lolli-pop Lamb,” two lamb chops on a puddle of mushroom lentil ragout with tomato confit, which was also lukewarm at best. The lamb chops were cooked medium rare to our specifications and were enjoyably juicy. We never quite warmed up to the ragout, probably because of the temperature turn-off. The cherry tomatoes seemed random and misplaced, and neither were eaten.
Our last small plate was the Beehive mac n’ cheese. The menu describes the dish as shell pasta with smoked and non-smoked cheeses, topped with bread crumbs. “Topped with breadcrumbs” ended up being an extreme exaggeration (they are visible if you squint at the photo above) and I could have easily been convinced that the dish lacked any cheese at all. In fact, it was so flavorless that I’d believe that a plate of pasta covered in cream was at our table.
And last, but definitely not least, the service was just as tasteless as the food. As we sat at the table finishing our bottle of wine (after the food was gone), the waiter actually asked us to leave within seconds of us setting down our wine glasses. He said that there was a crowd of people waiting to be seated and they needed the table. I guess it was irrelevant that several tables nearby sat empty. I understand that we visited Bistro 412 on the first weekend of the very busy Sundance Film Festival, but the restaurant wasn’t full at all when we arrived so a crowd is not an excuse. I hope that Bistro 412 was just having an off night, but I doubt I’ll return to find out.