Each dish at Pronto is conceived and prepared with an attention to detail that strives to make the dining experience unique and memorable. While the serving is always generous and the ingredients high quality, the restaurant falls just short of WOW! This is primarily because of flaws in execution – burnt potatoes, stingy use of cranberries -- or because a unique-sounding recipe doesn’t deliver in terms of taste.
Pronto is really more of a dining complex in that it takes up a row of storefronts along Washington Avenue in downtown Royal Oak. In addition to its restaurant, it has a bakery, bar and corner sweet shop. The dining room itself is set up with rows of wooden tables and chairs in a long, high-ceilinged space that always looks a little in need of a good sweeping. This is probably because of the dark purple carpeting that highlights crumbs. The walls in the dining room are primarily green but are also decorated with geometric Picasso-like designs that spit out even more color. The room also sports a wooden trellis on the ceiling, a Viennese-type dessert table and a bay window that overlooks the restaurant’s side-walk café in warmer months. The end result is a space with a definite deli-type feel. Don’t let this blind you to the fact, however, that you can order an alcoholic drink from the adjoining bar. Additional seating is available in an adjoining room, where high-backed, padded booths line one wall and a glass-bakery counter lines the other.
Service The waiters at Pronto are unfailingly personal and friendly. A few even have a sense of humor that ups the star count for the restaurant. Unfortunately, the same can not be said of all of the hostesses. On more than one occasion, the hostess was less than friendly and took too long to acknowledge waiting parties.
In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, Pronto offers a separate Specials menu. Each of the multiple menus is chock full of every category of dish imaginable, including some organic favorites. The options are listed in small type within multiple columns and their number is overwhelming. While the entrees are somewhat expensive for lunch, the portion size is large and the recipes unique. There is also an extensive list of desserts, some of which are laid out on a Viennese-type dessert table in the main dining room and catered by the on-site bakery.
The Crab Omelette was served slightly browned with its ingredients folded into the eggs. While this method of preparation can sometimes result in a pancake-like thinness that dries out the edges, Pronto’s omelette managed to retain a rich consistency. The sweet Maryland crab added a sweet contrast to the asparagus and red pepper mix, and the Hollandaise Sauce had a rich texture and was very buttery. The combination lent a new twist to an old favorite.
In addition to the omelette itself, the presentation included several bread options for toast, including Challah bread. Unfortunately, the sweetness of the braided Challah loaf was lost through its use as a too-thinly sliced, under-buttered toast accompaniment. The garlic potatoes were generously portioned, but were a little bland and burnt in sections. The cantelope was fresh and served in a wedge, which made it easy to eat. It was also a nice touch to round out the meal.
The Tomato-Basil Soup was a comforting offering on a cold day. It was well seasoned, served hot and solidly good, although it lacked texture that would make it more memorable.
The Potato Leek Soup had large chunks of real potato, but the consistency of its cream stock was gel like and the leeks were overshadowed by it.
The Salad Nicoise is a French salad that includes a more substantial mix of ingredients than are usually found on a salad menu in Michigan. The European influence is seen in the salad’s mix of potatoes, black olives, hard boiled eggs, red onion, lemon wedges and green beans. Unlike many restaurants, the balsamic vinaigrette at Pronto was not too sharp. It fact it was perfectly mixed and applied with a discriminating hand. The chicken breast on top was juicy and nicely seasoned. The salad could be improved, however, with a better choice of olives and greens. The olives should be pitted and the greens had too many ribbed leaves.
The BLT Sandwich surpassed the same offering in other restaurants through its freshly made bread (courtesy of the affiliated bakery no doubt), crispy bacon, heirloom tomatoes and non-Iceberg lettuce.
The cranberries, cranberry-flavored mayonnaise and apple chutney gave the Chicken Quesadilla on the Specials menu a seasonal twist. While the additions were a real treat, the apple chutney got lost in the presentation and the cranberries were too few and far between to make it into each bite. While the quesadilla was loaded to overflowing with shredded chicken, it was overcooked and dry in parts.