202 Market in Roanoke, Virginia

We had some rather bad luck at 202 Market, a restaurant in Roanoke, Va. that the local press has deemed worth of 5 stars. I feel bad for Roanokers if this is really the best restaurant in town. While the service was very friendly, and the menu looked good, the dishes need a lot more attention to detail — and a serious edit. This is my appetizer, described as ravioli with lobster, corn, tomato and lobster broth:

The ravioli were big, bulky and thick as the soles of my platform mules. They were super-tough, as if they’d been frozen. The lobster had that metallic, I’ve-been-around-too-long taste. The lobster broth was more like a soup. The fresh corn was the dish’s only saving grace.

Greg’s appetizer was a special: a tomato-bacon soup.

This was the only good dish of the night. It had a smoky flavor, from the bacon, of course. We thought it was going to come with bits of bacon in the soup, but the bacon had been incorporated into the soup. Clever — and delicious.

A look around at the restaurant:

Here’s where things went very wrong, indeed. Now, to be fair to the restaurant, I warned Greg. I asked him what he was doing ordering papapardelle with Bolognese sauce on a July night in the Virginia mountains.

But he didn’t listen to me. The pasta, like the ravioli, was thick and chewy, and the sauce was more like ground beef tossed with tomatoes than a true Bolognese sauce. Poor Greg.

Except I was in just as bad of a pickle. I had been planning to get the crab cakes, but after having tasted the lobster, I changed my mind and got the special, a pork chop with a fresh salsa.

The pork chop was bloody. The salsa was freezing cold. We tried to eat around the more cooked edges of the chop so as not to go home hungry, but we only were able to have a few bites.

The worst part about our meal — yes, even worse than the food — was the check. We were stabbed for $140. (Yes, that includes tip.) I never complain about prices when the food is great. But that was certainly not the case here. Well — you can’t win them all. Next time we’ll go to a pub.

The 411 on 202 Market: A restaurant-gallery-club in one big space at the main intersection in downtown Roanoke. The decor feels like the 1980s and the food seems stuck there, too, with market-fresh dishes that manage to be overwrought and undercooked at the same time. 202 Market Street Southeast, Roanoke, Va. 540-343-6644, 202market.net.


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