Do you know the way to Vahl's in San Jose?
Promising review in SF Chronicle last Sunday. Describes it as "the restaurant that time forgot", "honest mid-20th century", "closest thing to vegetarian is frog legs", "a brown drink place". Sounds fun in a retro way. Is it worth a try? Anyone actually eaten there in last decade? (I'm counting on you, Burke and Wells--this is your neighborhood).
I had to laugh when I read that article. While I was working in San Jose a couple of years ago, a coworker convinced about 6 or 7 of us to try Vahl's for lunch. Not only will none of us ever return, personally, I have to rank it up there as one of my all-time worst food experiences. Here's why:
1) The food was so bad, a few of us could make it past the first few bites. The salad was made of stale iceberg lettuce, one person's lasagne tasted like plastic, and my shrimp/crab sandwich was watery and had no flavor. Runny mayonaise on soggy bread....yuck. Even dessert was horrible. We had some kind of cream pie that was still frozen!
2) The atmosphere and service were horrible. This place reeked of urine the minute we walked in the door. Not only that, the place just looked really dirty. The fake flower arrangements were covered with dust and utensils had water spots all over them. All the servers were elderly women, and ours was especially grumpy.
If you want to try something good in that Alviso district, try the Mexican place across the street from Vahl's. The name escapes me at the moment, but their carnitas are excellent.
I can't report from direct personal experience, but office mates ate there when we were located about 1/2 a mile from Vahl's. The high points were the waitresses that time forgot (actually, the waitresses at the 50's Primetime Diner at the Disney/MGM Studio probably do a good imitation) and the jello desserts. The low points were the waitresses and the jello desserts. I read the menu once and couldn't bring myself to buy a meal. Perhaps I'll try it just for the experience.