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Eating My Way Through University City: Ginger Bistro

University City Patch's resident foodie Natalie McLaury pays a visit to Ginger Bistro.

It’s been a few years since Ginger Bistro (6665 Delmar Blvd) was a Blockbuster and not a restaurant, and management has done a good job of transforming the space. When my husband and I stopped in for dinner on a recent Monday evening, we felt it spoke “restaurant,” not “retail.” What could not mask, unfortunately, was the fact that they are located directly underneath a gym. Much as I tried to ignore the treadmill vibrations and the frequent dropping of dumbbells, it did not make for the most peaceful eating environment. 

Its unfortunate location doesn’t seem to keep customers away from the restaurant, which had a fairly steady stream of customers (many of them takeout…probably attempting to avoid the guilt of eating instead of working out upstairs!). Still, the large restaurant was anything but bustling.

We passed on the drink menu, in part because its “seasonal cocktails” were clearly still stuck in winter. Much as I love a warm drink spiked with alcohol, it’s the last thing I want on a hot June evening. The menu features a variety—everything from sushi to curries to rice or noodle dishes—a combination best described as Pan-Asian. On recommendation from the server, I ordered the salmon, which came with pineapple salsa and wasabi mashed potatoes, while my husband selected the chicken curry, his usual order when spotted on a menu.

The wait for our food was relatively short and because we were seated by the window, we passed the time watching an assortment of characters on Delmar Boulevard. When my plate was set down in front of me, I first noticed how nicely it was plated. My next observation was the giant chip on the corner of my plate. Given the number of empty tables in the restaurant, I know they could have found another plate to serve me on…a realization made more disappointing when I saw that the plate looked dirty. Not one to complain (I’m the first to admit it’s sometimes the dishwasher that leaves those spots!), I decided not to mention it…but it did put a poor taste in my mouth the remainder of the meal.

Thankfully, the salmon redeemed things. Light and buttery, it was cooked as it should be and paired nicely with the bok choy. The pineapple salsa was a disappointment, coming straight from a can and lacking fresh flavor. The wasabi mashed potatoes were by far the most interested mashed taters I’ve ever tried. I wouldn’t necessarily order them again, but my empty plate clearly indicated I didn’t hate them!

The chicken curry, on the other hand, was mediocre at best. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, but it wasn’t particularly memorable either. The portion sizes were generous and the prices were reasonable, but both dishes failed to wow us.

Lest you swear off Ginger Bistro forever, I think it’s worth noting that paying a visit to this restaurant definitely has its place and time. If you’re dining with kids, for instance, this would be a great place to bring them. The space is large enough and casual enough to accommodate a more rambunctious group. If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat that isn’t fast food, I’m confident you can get in and out of Ginger Bistro while staying on schedule.

If you want to try a new cuisine but are a little bit wary, Ginger Bistro is a good introduction—it has enough familiar sounding options that won’t scare you away. So long as you arrive with your expectations in check (and you are okay with the vibrations of treadmills!), this is worth a visit next time you’re wanting to try something new in the Loop. 

Mike June 25, 2012 at 01:13 AM
John has done a good job with Ginger Bistro, although the "sushi chef" could probably be a bit better and more authentic. As you mentioned, though - it's a good place to take the family, or for an introduction to the world of sushi. And you can't beat the always interesting view of the Loop!

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