Yesterday was M’s birthday. We had originally planned for a whirlwind adventure down to Cola and then back up towards Charlotte but due to the gusting winds and generally ick weather yesterday we opted to just go out to eat at dinner time instead.
Now most of my readers know that M is an accomplished cook. I learned my mad skills (modesty? pffft what is that?) at the apron strings of a master so a restaurant better bring their A-game when she sits at their table.
It doesn’t happen often and sadly did not happen last night either.
We are all still suffering from dinner last night.
Emphasis on suffering.
We went to a fairly well established restaurant, one that has put a great deal of PR into their charcuterie which is what hooked out interest initially. I mean, I’m currently brining a hog jowl that I had intended to smoke later today but instead I will be using more of a non-smoked application… more on that later on.
Initially, things looked ok. I did not care for the decor but to be honest my style is somewhere from log-cabin chic to Chateau de Versailles to minimalist Japan. We were seated at what amounted to the kitchen-door table. OK, fair enough, the place was moderately busy and we had the kids with us…. not a really valid excuse because my kids are like little restaurant reviewers on their own and at 11, 12 and 16 it’s not like they’re going to be needing high chairs and goldfish.
Enter first nameless, wide-eyed, wait staff type person who was not really our waiter but was more of a paid greeter, filler of water-glass guy. I had high hopes for him. It was for naught.
Sophie went through her typical spiel of introducing herself and everyone at the table to which he replied (while pouring tepid water that tasted like Greenville City’s finest UNFILTERED tap) “I’m not your server.”
Well ok then.
We read over the menu, made initial decisions and then our actual waiter appeared. I have a history of entertaining waiters. It’s kind of my thing. Some respond well to it (they are my favorites) and others just blink a lot and ignore me.
Guess which one we got?
So I opened with “this is our first time here and it’s M’s birthday!” Happy smiley face! He returned with “Great.” Zero affect, I hate my life face.
Me- “OK then, well… B will have the burger….” Here I’m interrupted with “You’ll want the kids menu?”
Me- “ummm…. no. He’s a cyclist, they are eating machines, he’ll want the regular size burger”
Blinky- “it doesn’t come with fries”
Me- “ok, we will order them as a side then”
Blinky “the kids version comes with fries”
Me- “ok… ummm… he really wants the bigger burger…..”
Blinky- blink,blink… and then proceeds to tell me what the kids’ burger consists of… which is sliders which B notorious does not like because they aren’t dressed like a burger which is what he wanted.
At this point B pipes up with “I really want the burger please, not sliders” so Blinky heaves a sigh and writes down the order, then in the most put-upon voice imaginable says something to the effect of “you want the regular sauces and stuff on it?” and B nodded indicating yes.
The rest of the ordering went ok until it got back around to me at which point I made another gallant effort to engage Blinky and failed once again. I asked what he recommended after seeing the variety that we had ordered so that we had a good general idea of what the restaurant could do.
This should have clued him in that I do the occasional review.
It did not.
He pointed out the highest priced item on the menu, something else that I honestly cannot remember and a sandwich.
I went with the sandwich because at this point I was annoyed and just wanted the ordering nightmare to end.
While waiting on our food I had an opportunity to watch many orders being readied for service and also to watch other diners eating their meals. I noticed that some of the servers took a lot of care in their presentation while others didn’t really give a flying…. well… you know.
I was just getting to a place of calmness when another waiter started screaming in the back. SCREAMING!!! Something about tea, something about coffee. I realize we were sitting in the galley for all intents and purposes but c’mon… people don’t play $12+ for a hamburger to hear screaming while it’s being prepared.
I digress… again.
The food came out and I was underwhelmed immediately with the plating. The only “Insta-worthy” plate was Xander’s sandwich. M’s plate looked like they simply slopped whatever available meat was handy onto a plate, Sophie’s as well. My sandwich and B’s sandwich looked like lonely little satellites on their plates, especially B’s which was missing the fries that he had ordered.
At this point I was still, surprisingly, optimistic. I can forgive a myriad of sins if the food is good.
My first bite of Reuben was potentially good. The flavor was intense but entirely too salty for my preference. The bread was good tho. Sophie said she enjoyed her ribs, however she didn’t eat them all. I did taste them and the flavor was ok, not my favorite spice blend, but ok. B said the flavor of the burger was good, tho a bit plain. X’s sandwich went soggy rapidly so the enjoyment factor waned a bit but he said it was ok. M’s meal tho… it was not good. The brisket was predominately fat. The pulled pork flavorless without the sauces which did not taste balanced at all to any of us. The hash which is my bench mark judge of any place that even tries to do a BBQ was horrible.
It wasn’t so much hash as really finely minced pork in the terrifically unbalanced sauce over undercooked rice. Not crunchy like bottom of the rice steamer rice… but this-rice-has-had-about-10-minutes-in-rapidly-boiling-water rice.
That, my dear readers, is an unpardonable sin.
Blinky did come around several times and kept the drink glasses full, thankfully as our salt intake was sufficient enough to cause dehydration.
I tried to ask him about other items on the menu and I’ve never had a waiter undersell a menu as much as he did.
Me- “tell me about the popcorn!”
Blinky- “it’s just crackerjacks with bacon and grease mixed in” (yawn implied by tone)
Me- “oh… well then… nevermind.”
And then he asked if we wanted dessert, we said no and we paid and we left.
As far as I know, M’s birthday went under the radar even though I mentioned it not only to the hostess, but water-pouring waiter and Blinky.
There did seem to be a lot of excitement (aka yelling) about one of the other tables so maybe they were distracted, I don’t know.
So, needless to say we left a bit unhappy. M was not impressed and my birthday present to her is writing this review. I’m leaving out the restaurant name as I honestly in my heart feel like maybe there is a management problem, maybe a staffing issue as I’ve seen posts on their social media that they are hiring all positions… that would indicate something not working exactly right to me.
I don’t like leaving bad reviews, likewise I don’t like that I felt like we were judged and minimalized as “worthwhile” guests when we walked in. Had the waiter been upbeat about menu items we would have ordered them, but his “meh” attitude indicated to us that it wasn’t worth our money or his time to place the order.
We took our left overs to J who was stuck in the ED and even he had a hard time with the saltiness and the unbalanced sauces. This morning found him green and queasy with a sudden dislike of all BBQ and more than once we feared that he would actually need that emesis bag that we kept in the backseat of Landy from when the kids were little.
That doesn’t tend to induce future visits.
So cross that one off my list of restaurants to try in G’ville. It’s the first one that failed so horribly and cause our entire house of foodies to feel like we had been clearing trees and burning brush while snacking on salt licks in the pastures.
I’ve left enough unique descriptors in this post that locals should be able to easily figure out where I’m talking about and I’d like to leave it at that. I like the premise this restaurant is trying to achieve with supporting local farmers but I feel that there’s a bit of the emperor’s new clothes effect going on. Just because you are doing the trendy thing does not mean you can drop the ball because it’s a Thursday and you don’t think diners will notice. Calling yourself a “restaurant that just happens to serve BBQ” means that your BBQ game needs to be strong, otherwise don’t do it and stick to your charcuterie.