Is this the new date night for book nerds? Perhaps. The new Barnes and Noble bookstore in Folsom's Palladio becomes one of the first in the country to house a new restaurant.
Folsom residents were out in force for the much anticipated opening. Many were unaware of the restaurant; they were just excited for a bookstore in their area. Located on the behind the Whole Foods, the new store is large, spacious, with a sterile look. It's not as comfy as bookstores of years gone by.
The restaurant is off to the right side. First you will see the circular bar area which houses the pastries, coffee, beer, and wine. Around that is a lot of different seating to appeal to your comfort level. There are tables, couches, overstuffed chairs. Finally there is a dining room space with casual, cafe tables and chairs.
I approached the host stand to discover that there was a twenty minute wait and they were taking names. Of course it was the first day. I found out that later there will probably be open seating as the novelty wears off, but for now it's necessary to be seated. The seats at the bar are open and still have full menu.
I opted for a spot and the bar and looked at the menu. The restaurant is open the same as the bookstore - 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The menu includes breakfast items as well as lunch/dinner entrees.
Note the prices. This is not what I consider to be affordable cafe eats. This is fine dining prices. Grilled cheese for $14? I saw this served to someone and it was not some artisan sandwich. It looked like a normal sandwich I would throw together with a single type of cheese. Cookies for $7? The ones I saw were normal size and not worth more than $3 max.
I chose the meatballs at $12. I really enjoyed them The meatballs were a good size, good texture. I actually am not a polenta fan and did enjoy this cheesy, smooth polenta. The tomato chutney was the added acidic element. But I would have preferred a $10 price on it.
The hope for Barnes and Noble is that the people will be attracted to the store with the availability of the food and drink. The drinks, whether wine, beer, or coffee, are allowed into the store so that you can find a seat somewhere and browse through books with a drink nearby. (What about spills?!)
We'll see how this experiment all works out. I think there's still a need for a good bookstore without and drinks. The coffee shops were fine by me. I certainly won't be going back for the food at the price points they are at when I could go next door to Chicago Fire for a great meal at a more appropriate price.