Mediocre food and poor service marked our first visit to the Spring Street Cafe in W. Roxbury tonight. They have done an admirable job of laying out a slightly awkward space, and the decor is simple and clean. However, when we went in, we first selected a table that was right in front of the heater which was blowing unbearably hot air so we moved to a different table which was quite cold.
The server took our drink order quickly but forgot the water we'd asked for, plus the two sodas were flat. We ordered Italian-American standards: calamari for the table, two salads (one without onions and the other with the dressing on the side), and entrees of chicken marsala, gnocchi, linguini carbonara, and eggplant parmesan.
The salads came first and there were onions on both and no dressing at all accompanying the other. The salads themselves were fresh if unremarkable with a too thick balsamic dressing. The bread basket had wonderfully crusted, tangy, fresh cibatta though the olive oil served with it was not of the highest quality. The calamari came next. On the menu it was advertised as being served with vinegar peppers which I assumed meant thet after frying the calamari it was sauteed with the peppers. It actually meant the the peppers were batter dipped and fried separately. The calamari was tender and the coating crisp but not adequately seasoned. The accompanying marinara was so highly salted that even I, salt lover that I am, found it barely edible.
The entree portions were quite large though I would have gladly traded higher quality for the quantity. My entree, chicken marsala, was the best. The marsala sauce was wonderful with the earthy and salty prosciutto and mushrooms balancing the sweetness of the marsala. The chicken was tender and plentiful . However it was served with a risotto that was heavy and bland. My husband got the eggplant which was bland and soggy. One friend got the house special gnocchi. The gnocchi themselves were quite good but the sauce was so cream-heavy that it overpowered the delicate dumplings. The other friend had better luck with the carbonara which, although equally heavy was offset by appropriately aggressive seasoning.
The lone dessert, tiramisu was unremarkable, the coffee was quite good and the tea was lipton in a bag served in not-hot-enough water.
All told, the bill for 4 non-alcoholic drinks, 1 appetizer, two salads, four entrees and one dessert was $92 before tip. The owners seem well intentioned but given that the restaurant scene in W. Rox is burgeoning I doubt that they'll be long for their space unless they bring in another chef and better train their staff.