Bistro at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke a work in progress (review, photos)

Dec 7 2017

Those promoting Holyoke’s Arts and Innovation District, that part of the city surrounding the Heritage State Park, have high hopes for the neighborhood.

Among the many plans for the District are interesting food experiences, such as the opening next month of the MGM-HCC Culinary Arts Institute.

Already doing business in the District, the Bistro at Gateway City Arts has been offering a low-key version of what it labels a “New American restaurant experience.”

Sharing a rehabilitated commercial building with Gateway City Arts, a multi-faceted entity that offers live entertainment, art classes, and various workshops, the Bistro occupies a street-level space adjacent to Gateway’s main performance venue.

The ambiance is simple but avoids post-Industrial severity, thanks in part to judiciously selected artwork.

A small dinner menu – it’s supplemented by daily specials – offers entree choices such as Steak Frites ($23) sauced with demi-glace or chimichurri, Bistro Porchetta (grilled pork chop — $24), and traditional Fish & Chips ($17). Those looking for something meat-free are afforded the option of a Soba Noodle Salad ($13) garnished with tempeh bacon; several other entree salads are available as well.
Starter selections include Barley Balls ($7), G.C.B. Bites (Gruyere dipped in chocolate and topped with bacon crumbles — $8), and a Hummus Platter ($9).

We began our dinner by sharing a chef’s selection of Cheese and Charcuterie ($15). The cheese part of platter was limited to random cut chunks of blue cheese and a decent sized scoop of the Bistro’s “beer cheese,” while the cured meat component was cigarette-sized rollups of prosciutto. Completing the plate were slices of grilled bread and a single cheese-stuffed peppadew.

We found the house-made beer cheese particularly interesting. Created, we guessed, by pureeing hot pepperoni and blending it into cold-pack cheese spread, the mixture was a meaty, high-voltage spread.

Brick Style Chicken ($17) featured two leg quarters pan roasted before being glazed with a light barbecue sauce. Served with Parmesan-dusted grilled asparagus and a serving of squashed-flat baby potatoes, the plate also incorporated a smear of the restaurant’s signature “Czech” dressing. The latter resembles Thousand Island without the minced pickle and, according to our waitress, is flavored with beer.

Our second selection, Seared Scallops ($24), was headlined by five generous-sized scallops. Lightly caramelized thanks to their sojourn in the saute pan, the scallops had been, in our opinion, too-aggressively seasoned with salt and cracked pepper. Sharing the rest of the space on the plate was a portion of pan-wilted, garlic-infused fresh spinach and an ear of “Mexican street corn.”

The street corn, a culinary meme at Gateway Arts, is their interpretation of the traditional Mexican marketplace snack. An ear of fresh corn is shucked but left husk-on before being grilled, anointed with butter, and generously seasoned with grated cheese.

Our assessment? The street corn made for a tasty and visually dramatic addition to the plate.

Dinner entrees at Gateway City Arts come with a side salad of micro greens, with a number of dressing options on offer.

Fully licensed, The Bistro’s bar serves classic and signature cocktails as well as keeping a dozen beers on tap. Ten or so moderately priced wines are available by the glass.

For dessert the operation offers a small assortment of grab-and-go pastry items. Passing up the house-made Whoopie Pies ($4), we instead shared an oversized Chocolate Chip Cookie ($3) and a Brownie ($4) studded with Toll House morsels.

A lunch visit to Gateway City Arts gave us an opportunity to enjoy a Czech Reuben ($11) assembled from mostly house-made components. It proved to be a fine example of that particular sandwich genre.

Sunday brunch, served weekly from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is the third menu option available.

Like Holyoke’s Innovation District itself, we judged the Bistro at Gateway City Arts to be a work in progress. There are certainly possibilities present, but that potential has yet to be fully realized.

Name: The Bistro at Gateway City Arts
Address: 114 Race St., Holyoke
Telephone: (413) 650-0786
Hours: Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 4 to 10 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Note that operating hours can vary those evenings performance events are scheduled.
Entree prices: $11 – $24
Credit cards: Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Handicapped access: Accessible, with rest room equipped for wheelchairs
Reservations: Accepted




May 2024