by Adele Thompson
Arde's Bistro, a small cafe between 4th and 5th on Main Street in Joplin, was a paradise for foodies. The owner went to the Farmer's Market and chose the produce himself. The daily special took the best advantage of lovely organic veggies and fresh herbs. Everything on the menu was prepared with thought and integrity and the flavors melded in a wonderful way.
However, on several recent visits I found the food to be disappointing at best. The bistro seems to have abandoned the keystone of its success in favor of a new policy of skimping on or eliminating essential ingredients to cut costs.
Olive oil, a key ingredient in the Mediterranean food it serves apparently has disappeared from the kitchen. This is obvious in the lack of flavor in the salad dressing and results in a totally disastrous version of Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). They lacked not only olive oil but the pine nuts and were bland, dry, swimming in an inappropriate bland white sauce and lacking any kind of protein at all.
The formerly generous portion of feta cheese on the signature salad was minuscule. Apparently ingredients now come from a wholesale provider and because of this the difference in taste and quality is noticeable. I'm not saying that the chef isn't capable but he can do just so much with inferior or altogether missing ingredients in the pantry.
I have to admit that the atmosphere and staff are charming, but in the end it is the appeal of the food that counts. This diner would hope that the previous jewel of a bistro would restore the integrity of its cuisine and return quickly to its former glory before it loses more of its loyal customers.