I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
Let me start this review by once again criticizing the absolute pathetic amount of parking around Cimos. There are three open spots in front of the location, the rest pushed out by the inclusion of an external serving area, which offers more tables requiring more parking. So where is the balance between parking and seats?
DAMN YOU MATHEMATICS!
Yes, I know, after my Vancouver experiences, I shouldn’t be complaining about parking, but comparing Prince George to Vancouver is like comparing coffee to crack. We had a reservation, allowing us to jump several parties. Our table was cleared and we sat within minutes. A candle flicked casually on the side. The delightful waitress took our drink orders. Like England, my mother ordered wine while I decided to splurge on a raspberry Ice-T…which turned out to just be a cold bottle of Arizona. Cimos holds the reputation in many circles as the best reviewed restaurant in town. Without gilding the lily in any way, let me declare that to be incorrect, or rather hopefully incorrect, as this is my first review on phase two.
The criticism I have lies exclusively with the decor. A reputable bistro should offer more than just good food. It should add panache to the experience, a casual atmosphere unimpeded by distraction, and distraction is aplenty at Cimos. Firstly the tables are too small and packed too tightly for a dinner service. This may be excusable for a lunch, but tight quarters preclude intimacy, like when the chair behind me cracks into mine. And although an open brassiere may be a welcome sight at lunch time, there should be a shutter closing it off during the dinner service, because it was far too loud. Barring that, keep it an acceptable distance from the tables. Barring that, just tell them to be quiet. We weren’t as close as some people, just under ten feet, but my Mother and I often had to shout over the clanging utensils and pans in order to understand each other. If this is an incorrect assumption of the style of Cimos then in contrast, its prices should come down. On average, the dishes were 20%-30% more than Boston Pizza with smaller servings. If a place is going to charge 50$ a head with no dessert, than the decor must bring its game forward.
We started with a tapas platter, which is listed as “minimum 2 person”. What this REALLY means is that you must order two, not that the plate is too much for one person. So even though listed at $8.95, it’s actually closer to $18. And the delivered dish barely justifies that cost. It’s a pleasant scattered assortment of pickled vegetables, cheeses, meats, flanked by pair of foccaccia bread. Add to this, the plate of olive oil and balsamic isn’t included, requiring an additional $2 charge. If I’m spending 18 dollars on an appetizer, you could throw in a quarter’s worth of oil and vinegar. The dish was still delicious, especially with the prosciutto and picked asparagus, but at the same price of a main, you could probably find wiser investments.
As for the mains, my mother ordered a Portobello pasta while I took a chance and opted for the most expensive item on the menu, the fillet mignon, topped with charred gorgonzola and parsnip chips, and resting upon a bed of mashed potatoes. Oddly enough, I actually thought this was worth the 28 dollars. In contrast I thought my mother’s pasta, for $17 looked more like a half-order. My steak was cooked to perfection and the cheese topping was an amazing addition. Concluding the meal, we decided against the dessert, wise given the $93 dollar final tag including gratuity. We both agreed, despite having dropped far more money for a single meal, this price was steep, with our gripes revolving almost entirely around the decor. It was great for a lunch restaurant, but Cimos badly needs a mid-service makeover when opening doors for supper. Throw down blinds, shutter off the kitchen, and/or take a few tables out. Then the experience may feel justify the cost of the food.
Cimos does nearly everything right, so it pains me when I see it stumble so close to perfection. And yet, there’s no denying the quality of the food, just avoid making comparisons with the executive bistros in larger cities. The steak I had was great, but was miles away from the Savoy Grill. The service was well above average, though still mimicking the motions of basic waiting staff, adding nothing to the experience other than rolling off the specials and taking the order, She was nice to be sure, leaving the issue, once again, with the intent of the restaurant entire. Good? Absolutely. Great? Close to saying. Best in town? I hope not.
OVERALL: 7.5 out of 10