Cari Taylor-Carlson

Eating Cheap at the Metro Restaurant

Its offerings for Downtown Dining Week were good but skimpy.

By - Jun 20th, 2016 03:15 pm
Hotel Metro.

Hotel Metro.

Was Downtown Dining Week an over-hyped promotion for the restaurants that signed on, or was it a chance to sample a limited number of dishes at less-than-their-advertised price on their menus? From a micro-sample, just one restaurant out of 45 that promised special deals during that week, my Downtown Dining dinner at the Metro Restaurant & Lounge at Hotel Metro rated a hit and a miss.

The lobby/bar/restaurant at Hotel Metro spells classy. The timeless art deco décor, with fresh flowers that popped in every available space, gave it a welcoming vibe as we entered from the side entrance on Mason Street. Thanks to prompt valet service, we left the car in good hands, free of parking challenges from those pesky meter-readers. A line of bikes for hotel guests reminded us of an even better way to arrive for a meal at this downtown hotel.

The lobby. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

The lobby. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

It was hard to resist the comfy chairs by the fireplace in the lobby where we could have relaxed and taken time to appreciate the art and design of this lovely space. On the way to the main dining room, we passed through the bar that bustled at 6:00 p.m. on a Monday. Customers can dine in the bar at high tables, or continue into the dining room. Or, a third option, the one we chose, a table in a small back room with space for larger groups and private events. This room, dominated by a mural on the back wall, an artist’s rendition of the exterior of the hotel, brought the outside in to our street-side window table.

Our server greeted us with a smile and said, “You’re in time for Happy Hour. We have $4.00 house red and white wines and $5.00 martinis.” That was an unexpected surprise. I downed the chardonnay and ordered a second after our server helpfully came by the table to say, “It’s one minute to 7:00. Would you care to order another glass of wine?”

As soon as we settled, a bread basket appeared, with cheesy bread sticks and four warm rolls. If they didn’t just come out of the oven, they fooled me. I smelled them coming from across the room.

For Downtown Dining Week, a special $25.00 menu included three choices, one from each category, starters/appetizers, entrées, and desserts. This would be a $39.00 value or so if ordered from the regular menu, though that turned out to be not entirely true.

My companion chose Baked Onion Gratinee from the appetizers. She found a richly flavored beef broth with a hint of red wine, a few onions hiding at the bottom of the cup, and a cheesy crust sliding over the edge. After she finished she said, “Good thing it’s in a cup, not a bowl. It was so delicious I couldn’t leave any behind, but I need to save some appetite for the pork chops.”

My starter, the Metro Cheese Plate, seemed a little skimpy. Yes, there were three cheeses as promised, tiny slivers, served with three ordinary crackers, a teaspoon of jam, five grapes, one blueberry, and one raspberry. On the regular menu, a $12.00 value, those assorted domestic and imported cheeses came with gourmet crackers, and I assume, larger pieces of cheese and more fruit.

My friend nailed the entrée. Out of four, she choose the Pork Chop au Poivre, pan-seared, peppercorn-crusted, boneless pork chops with calvados glaze and Yukon smashed potatoes, a $20.00 value on the house menu. The meat was almost fork-tender, so tender that we wondered if it was tenderloin masquerading as chops.

My entrée, Five-Spice Steak Salad, a serving of sliced, broiled flat iron steak was thoroughly infused with complex favors from the rub, a combo of anise, clove, cinnamon, pepper, and fennel. The underlying bed of romaine topped with julienne carrots and radish sprouts was missing the sweet chili dressing. That would have improved the mass of romaine that filled the bowl. By the way, on the house menu, this was a “salad,” not an entrée.

As for the other two entrée choices, a Blackened Salmon Cake, this was listed as an “appetizer” on house menu, and the Lemon Saffron Couscous with roasted veggies sounded skimpy.

We had no complaints about dessert. The Flourless Chocolate Torte, pure molten chocolate with raspberry coulis and whipped cream, left no doubt about the skill of the pastry chef. Likewise, three Lemon-Lingonberry Tartlets with raspberry puree and more whipped cream were sweet and tart with a flaky crust, six memorable bites of delicious.

The Metro’s restaurant will be changing, as Pastiche restaurant takes over in September. Here’s hoping they keep the pork chops and smashed potatoes on the menu, that one is a winner.

As for Downtown Dining Week, I can’t say whether our experience with this restaurant was anything like what greeted diners at other places. But I made a note to myself,  “Next time, do some research before Downtown Dining Week, then, order carefully. Salads and starters are not entrees.”


On the Menu

The Rundown

  • Location: 411 E. Mason St.
  • Phone: 414-225-3270
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Friday 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m; Saturday 7:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m.; Sunday 7:00a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Walk Score: 99
  • Transit Score: 70
  • Website:
  • UM Rating: 3.6333333333333 stars (average of Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zomato)

One thought on “Dining: Eating Cheap at the Metro Restaurant”

  1. Christina Zawadiwsky says:

    Sounds like a grand dining experience – must try it sometime!

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