Blackwood American Grill - Corona
The Blackwood American Grill just opened in Corona. It is located off the Magnolia exit near the 15 freeway in a business complex. I was really surprised to see this type of restaurant in an area that is prone to Chili's and BJ's. The interior of the restaurant is very upscale and beautiful. When I visited on Thursday night, the restaurant was pretty empty, with the exception of a handful of businessmen at the bar. The restaurant has low-lighting, but not to the point where you can't see the person next to you. It gives off a very upscale yet relaxing ambiance.
We started with the crab cakes that were served with a wonderful mustard dressing. The crab cakes were nice sized and delicious. One of my companions had the Kobe beef burger which was cooked perfectly medium and very tasty. It was a very good sized burger. My other dining companion had the sake and miso chillean seabass. The fish was absolutely perfect! A really great piece of fish. The only complaint was the rice that accompianed it was a bit overcooked. I had the Blackwood salad with rotissere chicken. The salad was very good and the chicken was perfectly tender. We finished of with the banana creame pie, which is a mini version of the real thing. It was heavenly. I'm not a big dessert eater, but even I couldn't stop eating it.
The service was very attentive! The waiter was extremely kind and helpful and our drinks were always full. Definately give this place a shot if you are in the Inland Empire or passing through.
We had an entirely different experience at Blackwood American Grill. Being Corona residents, we were excited about the potential of a nice restaurant in town. It was Saturday evening, and while not packed to capacity, the restaurant was relatively full. We are frequent fine diners, but don't generally complain very much. But they kept asking us how everything was, and we were honest with them. Unfortunately, the response to the problems we encountered were all met with the excuse that they weren't officially open until some time in February (even though signs posted outside state "Now Open") and that they were still working out the "bugs."
Here are some of the "bugs" we encountered:
1. My husband started off with the BlackWood Seasonal Salad. The lettuce had that old, brownish look to it. And had hardly any dressing on it. I didn't taste it, but he said it was not very good...just kind of blah.
2. I started off with the Old Fashioned Tomato Salad. I asked them to leave off the bacon and to add extra cucumber instead. I also asked for balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the side. The salad was nothing exceptional at all, just some tomatoes, onion, and cucumbers (not even marinated cucumbers). And even though I had asked for extra cucumber, there was hardly any cucumber at all. And instead of balsamic vinaigrette dressing, they just brought oil and balsamic vinegar.
3. I ordered a side of Sugar Snap Peas, but instead of sauteing them in butter (as shown on the menu), I asked for them to simply be steamed with no butter, no oil, no seasonings at all. When they arrived, they were swimming in butter, so I pointed this out to the waiter. At first he argued with me, telling me they were simply steamed, until I pushed them to the side and showed him the pool of butter they were in. He did take them back and returned with a steamed portion.
4. My husband ordered the Sweet Potato Hash, which unfortunately, was full of bacon. The menu doesn't state that it contains bacon, which he doesn't eat. Perhaps "hash" implies bacon?
5. We placed our reservation through opentable.com, but today received notification from this website that instead of acknowledging our arrival, the restaurant canceled our reservation in their system. This keeps us from getting our points/credit from opentable.com for dining at this restaurant. Per the email from opentable.com, I called the restaurant to remedy the problem, but the person who answered the phone used the excuse "We've only had opentable.com for 4 days and don't know how to use it." He finally agreed to pass my call along to the General Manager, but I haven't yet heard from him.
On the positive side, the meat itself was very good. I had the salmon and my husband had the flat-iron steak. The aoli with the salmon...just very bland.
Oh, and the portions are not particularly generous. Not super small, but we are usually used to getting a bit more size-wise!
We decided to cut our losses and not try dessert, even though my husband is a DESSERT LOVER!
I truly hope they work out the "bugs" they are experiencing soon. I'm sure we'll give them another try to check it out in a couple of months, but we eat out about 4 - 6 times per week, and unfortunately, they won't be getting our business for awhile after our experience last night.
Well, we tried it again and once again, were very unimpressed.
Here's the story this time:
The owners or managers of Blackwoods American Grill apparently read this board because we were contacted by telephone regarding the above "review" I wrote in January. I think they got our information from opentable.com because we certainly didn't give out our numbers to anyone. But the manager who spoke with my husband was extremely apologetic and asked us to give them another try, stating that the bugs were worked out, we would have a wonderful experience, etc. etc. etc. So, a month or two later, we decided to give it another try.
Once again, we made our reservation on opentable.com. When we arrived at the restaurant, initially there was no one at the front to greet us. Soon, a hostess arrived, and we told her we had a reservation. She did not check us in as required by opentable.com (for us to get our points), and I had to ask her to do so. At first she didn't seem to understand what I was asking for, and it took a couple of explanations that she needed to check us in on the reservation system, but she finally did so. We told her that we were there at the manager's invitation, but that didn't seem to impress her very much, and she led us to a booth on the right-hand side of the restaurant, near the kitchen.
At least five to ten minutes went by before anyone brought water or bread to our table. Then another five to ten minutes before the waiter came to take our order. I am trying to watch my calorie and fat intake closely, so when placing my order I was VERY clear that I wanted my dish prepared with no sauce. In fact, I asked twice, just to be sure that my request was well understood. The waiter seemed annoyed with me for double-checking, and assured me that it would have no sauce.
Well, you guessed it. My fish was covered with sauce, which I pointed out to the waiter when he delivered it to our table. He suddenly seemed to forget that I had asked for no sauce, but begrudgingly took my plate back to the kitchen (with no apology I might add). The kitchen is open to the dining room (you can see and hear the kitchen staff), and because we were seated so close to the kitchen, we could hear the entire LOUD conversation between our waiter and the kitchen staff. Our waiter told the kitchen that the fish was not supposed to have sauce on it, and the reply from the kitchen staff was to (are you sitting down???) wash it off and replate it. This is exactly what they did, and didn't even bother reheating my dinner.
We quietly ate our food, and as we were preparing to pay and quietly exit, a gentleman who had been making the rounds appeared at our table to ask about our evening and meal. My husband was very honest, and told him about our previous bad experience, and about our second bad experience that evening. It was the most bizarre, uncomfortable experience I have ever had in a restaurant. Instead of apologizing to us and wanting to make it right, he simply stared at my husband for what seemed like an eternity. He finally asked who our waiter was, and called him over to the table. I was absolutely mortified, so quickly got up and went to our car so my husband could deal with the situation.
Long story short, the manager who had called us after our first experience was "no longer with them." This was a new manager already, and he simply gave my husband a business card on which he wrote we could get two free entrees on a future visit. I would have thought he would have offered to do something to make it right for that visit, but he didn't.
Anyway, I threw the card out. We don't want to eat there again, even if it's free. I don't know this for sure, but I would guess that the first rave review of this restaurant was from an insider trying to get business in the door. I only found this Chowhound website when I Googled the restaurant's name to get their phone number to talk to them about not getting our opentable.com points last January, and this was the first hit. When I saw the glowing review, I had to let the fine dining public know about our experience.
It's truly such a shame. We need nice restaurants in Corona, that is for sure. But, we have enjoyed the new TAPS and Citrus City Grille in Corona. Nice restaurants, good food, good service, and they know how to treat a customer if they make a mistake. We are frequent fine diners and have eaten at both restaurants numerous times since they opened, and they have had a few bugs themselves. But, they treat us very well, and are apologetic, offer comps, etc. We NEVER ask for nor want comps (in fact, we generally refuse them), but we do appreciate a restaurant which realizes that the customer is king, and that we can take our hard-earned dollars where we are treated well.