I just completed a very satisfying first visit to Wilde and Greene, and I'd like to explain why I think it's going to end up being a unique alternative for dining, at least for an upscale shopping center, and perhaps a destination place for folks who like variety and spontaneity.
First, some background. No one in this thread has mentioned this, but the owner/managers of this restaurant, Richtree Inc., are based in Toronto, Canada, and have operated a series of similar restaurants in Canada (and a short venture in Boston) for at least 15 years. I regularly visited these restaurants in the period between 1996 and 2000, and found them to be a great dining experience, especially when I had to find a good place to eat late in the downtown Toronto financial district.
The real attraction was multiple food stations, preparing fresh, high quality ingredients, with a single check-in and check-out. The approach encourages grazing, where you can get an appetizer, sample a salad, choose a main course, and then search for dessert. While this basic approach doesn't work for everyone, it encourages spontaneity and curiosity in dining. It is somewhat unstructured, as you can use the restaurant for a quick snack, or a five course gourmet meal. If the food preparation is good and the variety sufficient, it creates a place where you can return many times, with a different, yet positive experience each time. One took a food ticket, which back then was punched as you were given food, at the end of the day, you took the ticket to the register, and paid as you left.
On to today's visit...
The wife and I ventured over a little after the lunch rush, and checked out almost every food station. We chose a station with an item that was among our favorites in Toronto, the Rosti, which is a Swiss variant on hash browned potatoes. I have learned to love rosti, and I even figured out how to make them for myself after I stopped traveling to Toronto. These were almost an exact duplicate of what the Canadian restaurants were producing, with tender Yukon gold potatoes carrying a sweet, buttery flavor, with just enough crisp crust to create a crunchy texture in several bites. I was thrilled to be able to get fresh rosti a mere 10 minutes from my front door. We chose a curry bratwurst, which was quite good and nicely spicy, and a cheese kielbasa, which was OK, but not nearly as good as the bratwurst. Other choices included smoked chicken, smoked salmon, and a chicken schnitzel.
We also found a nice caprese salad, with beefsteak tomato slices, balsamic dressing, pickled Bermuda onions, and mozzarella slices. The tomatoes could have been better, but I thought the serving size for a small salad was sufficient to split between two moderate eaters. We finished with a dish of blackberry gelato for me, and a slice of apple strudel for the better half. The gelato had lots of fresh berries in it, and was creamy and refreshing. The wife reported that the strudel was pretty great, and she had enough left for a second serving.
The punch tickets are replaced with a memory card, like a credit card, and the stations swipe your card at each station you get food. Think Foodlife in the Water Tower. Total cost - around $17 each, tax and service charge included. We spent a little time checking out other stations, and the variety and quality of the ingredients were impressive. I'm a transplant from Boston, and the seafood at the sushi and seafood stations was excellent looking and fresh smelling, and they can actually whip up a bouillabaisse or cioppino on the spot. A rotisserie had beautiful chickens, and offered fresh, plump roasted quail. QUAIL! And they have Two Brothers Resistance IPA on tap, along with Fat Tire and Blue Moon.
I can hardly wait to go back! The soft opening period is ending, and the cooking stations are finding their strides. The dishes I tasted were as good as the originals in Canada, and exactly met my expectations. For me, that is a winning dining experience. I'll be explaining the restaurant and recommending it to friends, and I recommend it to you, too!
P.S. One must understand with Wilde and Greene - this is NOT fast food. All dishes are made to order, and that may mean a wait at peak periods, or even off peak, like today when a group of folks were waiting for burgers and steaks to be cooked at the grill. So you may spend a little time waiting for food.
Also, you should be careful if on a budget, and you don't have the discipline to shop before you choose. While I think the value proposition for most items is extremely good, there are items that I think are overpriced, and one can run a healthy tab without realizing it.