Saturday, March 17, 2012

All dining coupons aren't created equal

Orange Glazed Crispy Sole at Session Bistro in Maywood.

I really can't fault the food and service at Session Bistro in Maywood, but how does a restaurant run out of seltzer?

On Friday night, I had a satisfying seafood dinner at the small BYO by the tracks, washed down with a nice Italian red wine I brought from home.

But it wasn't until after I had purchased a $25 dining certificate for $10 that I saw "special instructions" on the printout. I would have to spend a total of $35 and an 18% gratuity would be added before my discount.

Family away

My family was away for a three-day weekend and I couldn't persuade a friend to join me, so I went alone, hoping I could find an appetizer, salad and entree to reach the $35 threshold.

Session calls itself a fusion restaurant, but it has a hard time filling what was once an Italian deli, judging from my visit for dinner on Friday night and a breakfast there on Jan. 27, when a friend and I were the only customers.

For dinner, the tables are covered with white cloths, but industrial-looking electrical sockets are visible high on one wall. At breakfast, I noticed some of the drop-ceiling tiles were discolored.

Table for one

Although there were empty tables for four on Friday, the host insisted I sit at a table for two next to a bar, with the register and telephone only inches away from the right side of my head.

I started with an appetizer from the specials read to me by the waiter, Grilled Baby Octopus with Arugula and White-Bean Puree for $9.95. The tender octopus was delicious and perfectly grilled.

When I asked the waiter for seltzer, he said it had run out. I drank water, in addition to my wine.

Soup had meat

The waiter said soup or organic salad came with entrees, but I told him I wasn't eating meat, so he said I'd have to have the salad. 

The small bowl of greens, blue cheese, diced cucumber and refrigerated grape tomato was dressed with a French vinaigrette the chef made. Very nice.

My entree was a tasty Orange Glazed Crispy Sole, served over rice, for $17.95. The waiter said the kitchen didn't have brown rice, but offered me a sweet potato puree instead.

Tempura of fish

The large, moist fillet was prepared in the style of tempura, with what I felt was too much batter, and served over the sweet potato puree and Chinese broccoli. The pleasant orange-chili glaze contained fresh citrus.

I was pleasantly full, but short of the $35 minimum, so I ordered another octopus appetizer, which I like as much as the first.

My food bill was $37.85 with a $25 discount. Tax was 90 cents, and no 18% gratuity had been added. I left a $6 tip. American Express credit cards aren't accepted there.

I won't be buying any more certificates. I prefer vouchers from Groupon or Living Social, which have no minimum spending above the total value of the vouchers.

I've found Travelzoo vouchers exaggerate the total value of the deals.

Session Bistro, 245 Maywood Ave., Maywood; 201-880-7810.
BYO. Parking in lot.


  1. I am the chef at Session Bistro and I would like to thank you for dining at our establishment. I will make note of your comment, particularly about the seltzer. I apologize that we had run out; that should absolutely never happen. I hope the rest of your visit was enjoyable.

  2. Thanks for your comment. You turn out some great dishes, so the dining room is where you can improve Session Bistro. Cheers.


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