We went to Saranda’s on a Friday night at 6:30. It was super quiet, with the only customers the ones seated at the bar- and they all seemed to know each other and the Saranda’s staff. We opted to go ahead and sit at the bar, it looked like the hopping place to be. Plus we wanted to try their smaller plates, and more of them were available on the bar menu. The vibe of the restaurant itself was a bit of a hodge podge. The restaurant is in a 150 year old historic home in Fountain Hill. You can tell that they are going for a modern twist on the French bistro feel, but it just doesn’t quite hit, especially with the choice of music (at least that night- bordered on nightclub style). The servers were relatively attentive and friendly, but seemed distracted, even though the place wasn’t busy.
I started with the house sangria, which ended up being red wine and brandy, with a scoop of fruit tossed in- I prefer when the fruit gets soaked ahead of time and has all that boozy flavor gets soaked in. But it did have wine in it, so- still not too bad 😉 We were then brought two hot crispy rolls with fancy rose-shaped butter, and we followed that up with the mussels, escargot en croute, oyster sliders, and the signature burger.
The snails arrived first- they were remarkably tender, served over a puff pastry shell with a garlic lemon white wine sauce and tomatoes. They were a bit more oily than I would like and a tad vinegar-forward, but overall, it was a very good dish. The mussels arrived shortly thereafter. The mussels themselves were a bit small, but well-cooked and tender. The broth was salty, winey, and rich. We did have to request more bread so we could sop up some of that delicious sauce.
The sliders came in a set of three, each with a fat, crispy, briney oyster. The breading was light but crisp, and stayed firmly attached to the oyster when I bit in. The bread was slightly sweet, and the lettuce and tomato were crisp and refreshing. Nothing mind-blowing, but they were fairly tasty. Finally, we had the burger and fries. The burger is advertised as a 10 oz. prime beef patty served on a brioche bun with tomato and sweet onion jam, micro greens, goat cheese, and foie gras and truffle aioli. It is served with fries. To begin with, the bun was way too thick for the burger. Bad ratio. And it was very lightly toasted, not crispy enough to pair with the meat. We had requested medium, the cook ended up being more of a medium rare. The meat itself was tasty, but too oily- it may have been cooked in butter, I’m not sure. The goat cheese was of a very potent and overwhelming variety. The tomato and sweet onion jam was the one saving grace- it was tangy and delicious. And the foie and truffle butter… way too rich. We had split the burger, so I had one half. By the time I ate one half of half, I was done. Too much foie and truffle and butter and goat cheese. Shut it down. The fries were ok- they were thick (a plus for me), but unfortunately not as crispy as they could have been. They were also undersalted- which is saying something because I’m actually used to finding things too salty.
Overall, I had mixed feelings about our experience at Saranda’s. The mussels and escargot were quite good and the oyster sliders were fairly good- but the burger and fries would be a thumbs down for me. And again, the overall feel of the place was off- I couldn’t quite tell what they wanted to be, and that ultimately took away from the experience a bit. I’d try them again, maybe give the entrees a shot, but this won’t be on our list of top restaurants in the Valley for right now.