I tend to avoid upscale eating both because I'm a poor grad student and because, well mostly because I'm a poor grad student. It was graduation weekend though, and being the forgetful person I am, I failed to reserve seats at Starlight Cafe and Chef and the Farmer in Kinston for my family. Fortunately Plum Tree Bistro was only doing walk-ins, and is a relatively unknown restaurant tucked in a strip next to Japan Inn, so finding a table was easy enough. And fortunately, they aren't too bad for what they do. In fact, they were quite good in many ways to my surprise.
Being an American bistro, Plum Tree followed the book to a tee and started off with hot, crusty bread and a light salad. The bread was warm, crispy and actually really satisfying. The house salad was simple: lettuce and mixed greens, sliced red onion, minced carrot (which I like and don't mind seeing more of), cherry tomato, and some sliced cucumber. A no frills salad, exactly what you expect it to be.
For my entree, I decided to order the duck breast, which came with a blueberry port wine sauce. Though a bit on the expensive side for what it was, this was still easily some of the best duck I've had in awhile. Cooked perfectly medium, it was tender and succulent, and the sauce was finely balanced with sweet and sour notes that accentuated the best aspects of the duck nicely. The smashed red potatoes were also nice and buttery, and the steamed vegetables, which I would normally cast aside, actually helped tie everything together nicely, adding some freshness to the rich duck and potatoes and forming a very composed entree. I would order this again if I had the opportunity.
Overall, I was pretty pleased with my meal at Plum Tree Bistro. There were a few hang-ups, particularly the relatively high price - upper $20s - of some of these dishes. You are definitely also paying for ambiance here, and not just fine dining. If you are looking for an upscale place for special occasions and/or meetings though, I think you'll be hard-pressed to find many other options in town that rival PTB and their bistro fare. While you won't find any exotic dishes like you may at Starlight or Chef in the Farmer, you will find some really solid, no-fear classics to satisfy your carnivore needs.