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The Bistro at Courtyard by Marriott – Vienna, VA

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During a trip to our nation’s capital to check out the peak-bloom of the cherry blossoms, we decided to stay outside of Washington and utilize their excellent Metro system instead. That means we could look for lodging in the surrounding areas of DC for substantially cheaper than we’d pay in Barack’s neck of the woods. After a quick search, we decided on the Courtyard by Marriott Dunn Loring for its proximity to the Metro and for fairly good reviews. After several hours on the road getting there, we weren’t in the mood to head to a restaurant, and decided to try the hotel’s in-house ‘Bistro’.

The Bistro is located in the hotel’s main lobby. It has a newly renovated and modern design with semi-private eating areas (with private televisions!), ample dining space, and plenty of ‘mood lighting’ to give it an upscale feel. They serve all meals and snacks, with elevated, although not unreasonable pricing. We liked the nice touch of the calorie-counts next to their menu items. They also serve most of the coffees and bakery goods you’d get at Starbucks (similar to how Barnes and Noble does it).

We placed our order with a polite member of the staff forked over nearly $18 for Autumn’s tomato and mozzarella flatbread and my buffalo chicken sandwich. Drinks were strictly water. We received a order number and were offered a table of our choice to be served. Within a minute or two, our water was presented and it wasn’t long before our entrees arrived. Autumn’s flatbread came first; it was a smallish imperfect circle of light bread (fluffier than I’d expect) with four tomato slices drizzled with what I’d imagine was shredded mozzarella. Autumn thought it was serviceable but we both agreed that for the $9 cost we’d want a few real slices of mozzarella cheese and not the Kraft variety. It tasted more like pita bread than a crusty flatbread one might anticipate. My sandwich, McDonalds-esque with mild buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, lettuce, and tomato on a toasted sesame seed bun, came with a very small side of cole slaw and bagged kettle chips. The chicken portion was honest, and although the ‘buffalo’ flavor was muted almost entirely by the ranch dressing, it was still an enjoyable sandwich. The cole slaw was decent enough, and Miss Vickie’s sea salt kettle chips are always a delight.

Since our room rate came with a free breakfast, we returned to the Bistro the subsequent mornings. There isn’t a large selection, so we ended up getting the same stuff both times. I tried a sourdough cracked egg breakfast BLT (hold the cheese), and Autumn went for the strawberry-adorned french toast. The sandwich was good though a very small portion for the $7.25 you’d shell out. The ‘excuse me’ side of fruit was no more than a half-dozen small cubed pieces. Autumn had a little better luck with $7.95 french toast, which featured two large texas toast slices speckled with a handful of strawberries. We were disappointed to note that Marriott did not offer a sugar-free syrup. The starbucks coffee tasted right and the Bistro offered a standard assortment of milks, sugar, and sugar substitutes. Be sure to get there before 10am on a weekend or you’ll miss breakfast. There’s also no lunch service.

We found the table service pleasant and tipped our servers. We found the food to be generally good, but the cost is what really lowers the score. Bringing a kid is not a whole lot cheaper; a simple bowl of cereal will set you back $3.95. A scrambled egg platter with choice of meat, potatoes, and toast is $9.25. Still, there’s a lot to like here, considering that no one would rightfully expect a hotel dining option to be cheap. The calorie counts, apparently-faithful recreation of starbucks items, and the overall atmosphere and politeness keep it a positive experience.

Pros:

– Generally good food
– Polite service
– Unique atmosphere
– Open disclosure of calorie counts

Cons:

– Portions inconsistent
– Generally expensive
– Hours are too restrictive

Autumn’s Score: 2.5 Chews
Guru’s Score: 3.0 Chews
Our Score: 2.8 Chews ★★★☆☆
Subjective rating: Late check-in.

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The Bistro at Courtyard by Marriott - Vienna, VA, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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