A kick-off to Restaurant Week in my pseudo-home town with 5 girlfriends from high school! Ceres Bistro, a faily new addition to the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester, serves modern American farm-to-table meals inspired by local fresh ingredients. The dining room décor is warm and welcoming with comfortable booths and tables that sit beneath a beautiful stained glass ceiling, illuminating the diners below. This was my first real meal at Ceres (not including a post-wedding slightly hung-over brunch), so I was excited to experience their dinner menu.
Bread: We were all so busy catching up that it wasn’t until our first course was served that I realized bread had not been delivered! And it wasn’t served for the remainder of the dinner. I hate asking for bread – I feel it’s an unnecessary request since it’s 95% of the time complimentary – so we were breadless the entire evening and not happy about it.
Menu: The Restaurant Menu offered an option of 2 first courses, 4 second courses, and 2 desserts. I started with the Petite Bistro Salad (the goat cheese and beets persuaded me), went with the Butternut Squash Risotto for my entrée, and the Pumpkin Bread Pudding for dessert! The only difficult decision I had was between the risotto and the Native Haddock which offered “lobster home fries” as a side. Thank goodness a couple other friends ordered this meal because I needed to see/try this phenomenon!
Petite Bistro Salad: beets / tomato / cucumber / roasted peppers / local goat cheese / champagne vinaigrette
A small side of greens sat opposite a few thinly sliced beets, a golf ball sized goat cheese mound atop the remaining vegetables. Everything was delicious, I just wished for more greens and beets, and less cheese.
Tsougas Farm’s Butternut Squash Risotto: shaved parmesan / seared spinach / black truffle / warm spiced crème fraiche
I do love these plates! Perhaps because it makes you feel as though you’re eating less than you actually are? It may seem like a small serving of risotto but it was a perfect size for me. Topped with the crème fraiche and spinach, the risotto was absolutely delicious – rich but not overwhelming, with the just the right amount of crème.
Late Harvest Pumpkin Bread Pudding: candied spiced walnuts / “rummed raisins” / double cream
Served in a white ramekin on a plate surrounded by haphazardly tossed walnuts and raisins. The middle was piping hot and I don’t particularly remember the ‘pumpkin’ aspect, but that may have been a result of the 4th round of drinks… Fully enjoyed this dessert though!
Note: lobster home fries were in fact tiny pieces of potatoes and separate tiny pieces of lobster. Quoting “lobster home fries” on the menu is very tricky and deceiving.
Bathroom: Located just outside the restaurant in a hotel hallway. I love the privacy of each stall – there’s no gap in between the top/bottom of the stall door for an at-home fully isolated effect. The sinks were clean and sleek, the Xelertor hand dryer is a plus, and I appreciated the mirror lighting.
Wait Staff: Well, our waiter never brought us bread, and I’m still not sure if this was his mistake or if Ceres just doesn’t offer bread (which I find hard to believe). 2nd mishap: Angela was the only one out of the 6 of us not to order off of the Restaurant Week menu. After everyone’s 1st course was finished and cleared, Angela’s entrée was immediately brought to the table. We proceeded to sit for 15 minutes before everyone else’s entrée was served. Isn’t this Restaurant 101?! I was shocked and disappointed – the kitchen/waiter should have anticipated this potential issue and shouldn’t have served Angela until all of the main courses were ready.
Overall: The food was undeniably delicious, and there were clearly a few services issues but they weren’t major enough to ruin the meal/evening. Definitely a contender among all of the near by established Shrewsbury Street classics. And the bar is fantastic! Not only is there bar seating along with bar booths, but there’s what I’ll call an ‘island bar’ in the middle of the room which provides additional seating on all sides (a picture on their website can explain further). The illuminated bar top makes it modern and fun.
The Perfect Bite: Butternut Squash Risotto, black truffle, crème fraiche. Spinach or no spinach, this meal is a winner.