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Review of Winston's Dining Room - CLOSED

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Winston's Dining Room
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed 10 October 2013

This restaurant has been closed since June of 2013. All food is now being served in
the coffee garden of the hotel.

1  Thank Ederberg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviews (38)
Traveller rating
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9 - 13 of 38 reviews

Reviewed 20 August 2013

My wife and I enjoy having dinner in the hotel lounge. Lorie and Chelsea at Winston's Lounge are always very helpful and friendly. Many times they have our drinks ready before we even get our coats off! Food quality has been very good to excellent and the staff are always willing to accommodate dietary preferences. Thanks for providing enjoyable evenings and a welcoming atmosphere!

    • Value
    • Service
Thank R D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 May 2013

Perhaps I’m getting a little soft, having instilled at least half-hearted praise in my most recent reviews. Even I can acknowledge that the comical nature of some entries is based on the restaurant not living up to some preconceived expectation. And one cannot have loftier presumptions than walking into the last restaurant in Prince George I have yet to review.

Yes, I’m at Winston’s. That’s right, Winston’s, known across this miniscule segment of ethnic mix as the most expensive restaurant in Prince George. It has a reputation for its exclusivity, rumored at one point to refuse service to those not decked out in appropriate attire. Despite this, Winston’s has survived for decades, longer than most. However, the inevitable doggedly pursues all, and Winston’s eventual demise will soon come less than a month after this review’s posting. Is this destiny another chilling reminder how the economy is apathetic to all businesses or is Winston’s demise the result of events purely self-induced?

The answer to that came swiftly upon entering the dining room. Winston’s is stiff, and not the kind of stiffness I get after polishing my car for three hours or when a cute girl accidentally brushes an errant breast while passing me in a crowded hallway. It’s inappropriately pompous. This wooden metaphor is further enforced—admittedly ironically—given that the majority of the patrons around me probably hadn’t seen anything rigid since the mid 1980s. My 73-year old mother is practically juvenile compared to the other people in this place. Hair is bleached white when still present. Blouses don’t fit right. Suits are beige with church-appropriate ties. This place is obviously popular to those with elastics in their dress pants and flowers vomited on their shirts. These are people that think cashmere dusters are still trendy. I’ve never felt so young and I’m as bald as a plucked chicken.

Winston’s is close to shutting its doors, and now I hope it’ll be replaced eventually by something contemporary. I consider this a wise choice taking into account that Winston’s dominant clientele will soon no longer able to chew their own food. The employees serving the tables are young enough to be their customers’ great-grandchildren. But Mr. Gastronome (if that’s your real name and it obviously isn’t), you’d say, Winston’s is a fine dining establishment, one the young and poverty-stricken may not appreciate. Or maybe it was Mother’s day and what I was witnessing wasn’t typical. I may agree if it wasn’t for the fact that when I gave Winston’s a full 360 degree scan, all I could see was a field of albino Astroturf.

No one under the age of 40 wears a tweed dinner jacket anymore. Actually, who wears dinner jackets at all, now that I think about it? Not to dismiss some of the other first impressions; Winston’s looks great. The chairs are massive; the tables are spread out. Everyone wears matching expensive uniforms. It does present itself as a formal fine dining establishment. We ordered drinks and took a moment to examine the menu which was more geriatric than the clientele. The selection is an assortment of boring soups and salads featuring only the basic tenants of upmarket cuisine. Even though Hummus Brothers lacked actual tapas, their menu at least showed a modicum of actual personality.

One of the biggest draws recently is something called Table d’hôte, which offers three courses for $29.95, a common sight in England. It’s a good deal, one which we both opted for, but only because nothing in the main menu actually impressed us. The options all felt a little… unfashionable. Hummus Brothers was sexy compared to this. Yes, sexy is a common trait for good cuisine. People want to feel exotic when they order food in a restaurant. The menu at Winston’s is like eating with the family three days after Christmas. Wow. Chateaubriand. No kidding. Still rocking the carved meat at the table. I haven’t seen that offered on a menu since Duran Duran was big. Is Winston’s fine dining or a carvery?

The d’hôte offers escargot in puff pastry, Caesar salad, or wild mushroom soup for starters. Coho salmon, pan seared veal tenderloin, or wild mushroom ravioli were main choices with a chocolate lava cake for dessert. I elected for the salad while my mother opted for the escargot. Once again, I’ll reiterate the aged selection. Escargot is something my mother made for special guests when I was a teenager, and despite my love of anime, I am older than most people think. Thankfully, Caesar salad is always modern and if the food is good, it could redeem the whole experience. This did not happen. The salad wasn’t bad; it was just salad. A year ago, I criticized the pretentious Caesar salad deconstruction offered by Raincity Grill. This was the mirror opposite—just a fistful of leaves, croutons and traditional dressing. No presentation, nothing. The escargot was better, but undercooked. The surface pastry was crispy and golden but was so thick, the lower layers were uncooked and doughy.

Thankfully, the veal redeemed the starters but was presented on a plate recently excised from the surface of Venus. Many recipes recommend serving on warmed plates but there’s a difference between a warm plate and one which can inflict third degree burns. You’d expect that with sizzling beef, but not a basic steak, especially when served on a plate which was hotter than the food resting on it. What does that tell you? Under a heating lamp? No. Thrown into an oven to stay warm while the rest of the dish was made? Bingo. But at that temperature, it runs the risk of drying out the food.

When rating the entire experience, Winston’s wasn’t actually bad, and at $30, the meal is a good value. But it’s depressing that the most well regarded restaurant in town serves only above average food. It should rocket me over the God-damned moon. The high point of the meal shouldn’t be the bread and the novelty shaped butter pats. An obvious counter is that I walked into a fine dining restaurant and ordered the equivalent of a Big Mac and fries, the cheap option. A good restaurant owner would counter that every customer is treated equally, regardless of the food chosen. If ordering d’hôte results in an experience not reflective of the restaurant, then they shouldn’t be offering it in the first place.

What the hell happened? I remembered visiting Winston’s years ago and I found the experience posh and rewarding. When did it change its modus operandi to only cater to those that can count their natural teeth on one hand (perhaps as a collection in their actual hand)? It’s stuck in a time warp; all it’s missing is Tim Curry in drag. Hell that would actually be a surprising injection of energy. This is three degrees from an upmarket church dinner where parishioners would march like Floyd-hammers from the pews. Winston’s is a culinary dinosaur, a fossil more suited to a museum, something to watch and ponder, not live in. Perhaps a closure is the right choice, replacing the menu and updating the décor, taking fine dining to a different dimension, something upbeat, worthy of being fringed by the superior Shogun. Take a look down the street at Sassafras Savories. When I talked with friends staying at the Coast Inn of the North, I asked them if they had gone into Winston’s. Here a month, and not once. Meanwhile, they had patronized Shoguns three times a week. What does that say? They pass by Winston’s every day. The establishment requires a complete refresh. New name, new menu, new approach, and I’ll be happy to come back.


OVERALL: 7.2 out of 10

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank PrinceGastronome
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 April 2013

I have been in Prince George for ~30 years and never went to Winstons until last night because I thought it was too much of a 'high end ' restaurant for me. Hubby and myself were celebrating our 29th anniversary and thought 'why not' .Right out of the gate I should have known it was going to be in 'interesting ' evening. We told our server that it was our first visit here and she said that that was part of the reason why the restaurant was closing, that she had been a server for 10 years and if more people came in more often the restaurant would be making money. The food was ok , pricewise it was comparable to any mid priced 'steakhouse' . The staff did not take the time to make sure we knew what was on the plate ie the sauces on the crab cake plate were not as listed so we had to flag down a staff member to ask . We asked for lo cal- sweetener for my (diabetic) husband's coffee and the server openly wondered why he just didn't drink unsweetened coffee, we asked for butter for our veg and she suggested we should taste the veg FIRST because there was ALREADY a butter sauce on it, At the end of the meal she came back and asked me if she had given me the wine I had ordered for dinner because she couldn't remember ! the plates were hot but the food was lukewarm but we were so frustrated by then we just ate.. We weren't even sure how to approach the problem(s) because the tables are so close together we would not have been able to say much (privately) without drawing attention.
as I said in the title.. if this is how service is run .. no wonder they are closing !

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Alezalk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 March 2013

This place needs a major overhaul as it is stuck in the 70's. Cherries Jubilee is so passe although I will say that the food is usually very good and the atmosphere is quiet and great for conversation.

Thank Roy C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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