A family dinner (4 adults, one small child) was both good and disappointing.
Cafe Saint- Amand is more a "gourmet diner" than a French bistro but it tries hard. It's
is still one of the best spots to eat in Gettysburg, a town with more pub-grub than fine cuisine.
Just don't think you are in Paris or Provence. It is rural America with a French accent.
And Cafe Saint-Amand is on the right track.
We were greeted and immediately seated at a large, nice table by the front door. However every time the front door was opened, we were hit by a blast of freezing November air. A solid, antique-looking screen could reduce this problem and give the front tables a little privacy too. Two of our party put on their winter coats.
The atmosphere is lovely, with soft lighting, large, b/w photos of Parisian landmarks and French music playing and the staff smartly and appropriately dressed in black. Service was friendly but inconsistent in its attention to the table. We felt somewhat ignored at times and had to motion to the waitress to get her attention. Maybe getting and training wait staff is difficult?
The kitchen was slow. The restaurant was about 3/4 full.
Waitress never offered to open our wine or to pour it. Wine glasses provided were
We were brought a small loaf of excellent Rosemary bread, fresh, warm, with a tiny ball of herbal butter, strange with an herbal bread. A good amount of plain butter would have been appreciated. That mini-loaf went fast...devoured in six small slices. We asked for more and it came in about 10 minutes. A bistro should serve warm baguettes, a variety bread and butter.
Appetizers ordered included a duck confit (good...perhaps D'Artagnan's packaged one reheated?), a homemade fish soup (very "good"), Blue Mussels (about 12, just excellent and served with a potent garlic sauce) and a "Warm Goat Cheese and Apple Salad" which was awful. The salad consisted of a bag-mix but the greens were not picked over and maybe not re-washed. So the salad came full of spoiled lettuce. It was generously covered in grocery-store goat-cheese crumbles. The dressing, described as "honey-mustard vinaigrette" turned out to be a blob of plain Dijon mustard, served separately. We tasted it and everyone agreed that in no way was it the promised honey-dijon vinaigrette. The salad was not what the menu said it would be and a disappointment We should have sent it back.
Surprised there is no pate on the menu. Also, a "small assortment" of "3 artisan cheeses" for $10.95 is pricey. And why no "pommes frites", the bistro classic? Steak/fites??? "Warm pretzel croissants" (?) with a cheese/mustard sauce for $8.95 sound pricey and more PA Dutch than French.
Entrees included the rack of lamb (just "excellent"), a succulent, rare filet mignon au poivre (topped with with a tiny squiggle of creme faiche...strange for a dish which should have a brandy-cream sauce), a NY Strip au poivre (good, big), and "Pork Normandy" (dry, maybe reheated...not good).
A side order of garlic spinach ($4.95 for 5 tiny bites!) was strong enough to knock you off your chair. Presentations were nice. Entrees all came with rather dry mashed potatoes that could have been improved with butter or cream. Again that butter! The children's menu was good.
We think the kitchen may have to rely on warming up pre-packaged foods for dinners, not surprising for a place busy serving "cooked-to-order" breakfasts and lunches that may not have time or staff to prepare "from scratch" sauces, veggies, etc.
Value for the money? Perhaps a little overpriced for some items which is how we feel whenever a menu's promises more than it delivers.
Still, we will return. Saint-Amand is among the best restaurants in Gettysburg.
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