One of our forum members, Joe, offered to write a full review of the brand new full service restaurant which opened in International Street on Thursday. This experience is like no other dining that the park currently offers or has offered in the past. Take some time to read some of Joe’s thoughts below! Thanks again Joe for writing this review!
A surprising new dining experience appeared on International Street this Thursday called Bistro 75. Nestled in a cove of planters across from the Emporium, Bistro 75 is an all-new full-service restaurant located along the International Street fountains. The restaurant offers a variety of fresh-cooked gourmet foods, wines, and desserts. Going along with the European theme of International Street, the menu features foods with a heavy European influence and a level of fancy that one wouldn’t typically expect to see at a theme park. The restaurant is a first-class type experience with wait staff catering, fancy dishes, glassware, and of course a marvelous setting. Everything is made specifically to order, and what comes as a result is a marvelous dining experience.
The whole experience was remarkable. From the class of the restaurant to its stunning setting to the delectability of its food, everything was phenomenal. The restaurant itself is a big story, but another big story is what this means for the park. For many years Kings Dominion has been known locally as a one-dimensional park with nothing to offer but thrill rides. In the past few years, we have seen vast improvements in theming, landscaping, and entertainment throughout the park, but the culinary department hadn’t seen such improvements until this year. Earlier this season, the park hired their first executive chef in over ten years, which has brought vast changes to culinary offering throughout the park. We’ve seen improved food quality, a new bakery, a culinary-focused special event, and now we are seeing a full-service restaurant for the first time since the pre-Paramount days. It is changes like this that really show how the park wants to abandon the “coaster collector” identity and instead wants to be a well-rounded destination park once again.
Anyway, what I’m sure you are really here for is a review of the restaurant, so here is my review of Bistro 75 from opening day.
The menu features a variety of fancy dishes, with most of the entrees being either paninis or quiches. Note the sophisticated-sounding appetizer menu and the delectable list of fresh-baked desserts. There is also an extensive wine list that is not pictured.
The food offerings alone are great, but take a look at those prices. Almost everything listed is a good six dollars or so less expensive than any other restaurant in the park. I assume this pricing is only temporary and is simply meant to boost popularity, as I can’t imagine the park’s only fancy sit-down restaurant being less expensive than their many counter-service restaurants for long.
I was fortunate enough to visit on Bistro 75’s very first day in business; in fact, my group was the very first to eat at the new restaurant. We stopped by sometime around three o’clock to see this peculiar new restaurant (nobody knew it existed until then), with a cluster of six or so tables along with fountains, as well as other restaurant-y things. There was a hostess at a podium by the entrance to the area, who was taking reservations. We were the first ones to make a dinner reservation.
We arrived at our scheduled time and took our table right by the fountains. Only two other parties were eating at the time.The tables were set with clean tablecloths, linen napkins, and silverware. The tables were all nestled in a little nook of various International Street planters, making the whole area feel intimate and secluded.
We were then introduced to our more-than-friendly waitress who went to get us some water. When she returned, we got our first surprise. Rather than just fill our glasses with water, they brought out champagne-style bottles full of chilled water. This was soon followed by garlicy breadsticks with pesto-olive oil dipping sauce. Even just being served water and bread, we already felt first-class.
We then ordered our meals. I ordered the charcuterie platter, another member of our party ordered the caprese platter, and two others ordered the quiches. The food arrived a solid ten to fifteen minutes after ordering. Maybe the wait staff noticed we were growing impatient, because they continuously came over checking on us while we waited for our food. We learned that it was taking so long because the executive chef himself was preparing our food in Border Cafe’s kitchens at the front of International Streets.
Finally our food came. We noticed the fleet of wait staff carried each plate individually, uncovered, halfway across International Street to our tables. Everything was elegantly presented. It was fantastic.
After eating, the executive chef himself came and talked to us about our thoughts, and shared some information with us. He was very friendly and seemed very excited about his job and what he plans to do to the culinary department in the future.
Afterwards we ordered dessert. Being the first customers, we actually got a free dessert, and just because the staff was so nice they decided to give us a second free dessert. We ordered red velvet cake and chocolate cake, which came out in no time. What a great way to end a meal!
By the time we finished our meal, almost an hour had passed since we sat down. This definitely isn’t the place to eat if you are in a rush, but if you want a relaxed meal, Bistro 75 is superb. We felt like VIPs by the time we paid (and tipped or fantastic waitress, of course). The sun was setting over the fountains. It was beautiful.
Let me start off by saying the whole atmosphere of the place was superb. The beautiful International Street fountains splashed to one side, and the whole place was secluded in the landscaping of the area. There was also a great view of the nearby clock tower and the rest of the European buildings in the area. We were serenaded with the beautiful music playing throughout the village, and simply sat back and relaxed throughout the meal. To say it was pleasant was an understatement.
Just like the rest of the park, the wait staff was super friendly, outgoing, and made sure everything was going smoothly, especially since it was their first day. We felt like we were getting first-class service the whole time.
Of course, we have to review the food. My charcuterie platter (basically a fancy mix of meats and veggies) was delicious. It was rather small (but I suppose that’s what I get for ordering off the starters menu) but it was beautifully prepared and featured a variety of tasty foods. I would certainly order it again. It made for a great light meal.
Another member of our group ordered the caprese platter. This was an enormous serving of fresh tomatoes and cheese prepared in a very artful way. It got very high marks.
Two other members of our party ordered one of the quiches. While they both made remarks on how it was rich and tasty, they both agreed that the long walk from the front of International Street to Bistro caused the quiches to lose a substantial amount of heat. This kind of ruined the perk of all of the food being custom-prepared. We actually discussed this with the chef and he said they hope to fix this issue soon. They still got high marks flavor-wise, though.
The dessert was absolutely phenomenal as well. We got both the red velvet cake and the chocolate cake, and both were rich, flavorful, and above all fresh. That may have very well been the best red velvet cake I have ever had.
If this restaurant is as successful as I hope it is, hopefully it stays for a while. My group agreed that as far as improvements go some simple red rope closing off the seating area and some LED candles would make Bistro seem like more of a “must-do” experience, and some permanent signage in the nearby flower bed could help advertise it. Such signage would be a huge improvement in advertising Bistro 75 to the public because at first I thought this was simply a one-day special event type of thing. Also, they really need some plate covers to keep the food warm when transporting it from place to place. Even still, the whole thing was fantastic.
As a whole, Bistro 75 was a huge success in my mind. The setting was gorgeous. The food was delicious and its being custom-prepared was a great perk. The wait staff was extremely helpful. The set up of the restaurant was pleasant and added a touch of class to the experience. While this certainly isn’t the place to eat at in a hurry, I would highly recommend Bistro 75 to anyone who wants a classy, relaxing dining experience like nothing else in the park. Most of all, I am excited to see what this means for the future of the culinary department and the Kings Dominion experience as a whole.
Thank you Joe for that detailed review!
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