Ginger Pad in Burlington - very disappointing
On the recommendation of a friend we went to Ginger Pad in the Wayside Commons in Burlington for dinner tonight. The host asked if we thought we'd be having any sushi, we said yes, and were ushered to the right side of the room.
The menu was promising - an interesting pan-Asian mix of Japanese, Chinese, Malay and Indian options. The vibe was odd, though. The bright lighting and decor said mall food-court, but there was a fully stocked bar, stylish sushi counter, and $20 entrees on the menu. Our waitress seemed fairly professional, but the host much less-so, with his black shirt sloppily unbuttoned to show his white undershirt. But no worries, we were hungry and there looked like plenty of good options from which to choose.
My daughter ordered two maki rolls (California and Philadelphia - both coasts represented) and an order of hamachi nigiri. My husband and I ordered a specialty jalepeno roll as an appetizer, and both ordered the braised short ribs. The main entrees came with a choice of soup or salad and white or brown rice. I ordered brown rice and a salad with ginger dressing, and husband ordered white rice and hot and sour soup.
There was a nice little drink menu as well, but we weren't drinking. My daughter and I ordered an "orange sparkler" off of the non-alcoholic drink menu - orange juice with sparkling water. Our waitress looked at us in confusion until I explained what the drink was and showed her on the menu.
First out came the soup and salad. The soup tasted, in my husband's words,"like Americanized hot and sour soup." I guess hearty and meaty are words for the odd stewlike substance that seemed to have been thickened with flour. Not too terrible, just not a good hot and sour soup. My salad was fine, but the dressing was oddly garlicky. It tasted like typical Japanese ginger dressing, with a couple of cloves of garlick added. Again, not bad, but just a little odd.
Next came my daughter's sushi. Rather than hamachi nigiri she received hamachi maki, but didn't really mind. And since she's 7 sometimes she can be hard to understand, so no worries on the order mixup. However, her assessment of the food was spot-on. She ate the California roll (the only one that was edible), spit out the hamachi roll, and said the Philly roll was too smoky.
Next came our plates of short ribs. Now, I have a maxim that has never failed me - when in doubt, order the short ribs. You can't go wrong. I think this must have been the exception that proves the rule. We received 6 bones haphazardly thrown into a bowl covered with sticky sauce with a couple of whole roasted cloves of garlic thrown in. There was absolutely nothing braised about this dish. There were no utensils to eat these with except for our chop sticks (impossible as they were big bones) so we picked them up with our fingers to eat them like BBQ. I can honestly say this is the worst dish I can ever remember eating in a restaurant in my life. I took two bites out of one of the ribs. I can only describe it as icky chewy spongy weird texture covered in syrup. I guess it must have been meat because it had a bone. Maybe it had been microwaved? That's my guess. But for $17 it is not what I would have expected. The side of brown rice was basically just that - steamed brown rice. And it was cold.
THEN came our appetizer of jalepeno maki. It had white tuna and salmon, wrapped around spicy tuna salad. It was OK and I was hungry so glad for the food.
My husband ate the offending ribs because he was really starving. But he looked pained.
When our waitress came back at the end of the meal and asked how it was, I couldn't lie. I've never ever done this in a restaurant before, but I just told her that they were absolutely awful and I couldn't eat them. She looked shocked and said that they've never had that reaction. We agreed that maybe it was a bad batch. I am just not the type of person to complain, but there was no way I could look her in the eye and say it was fine, especially when it was obvious I hadn't touched more than a bite. Thankfully they took the charge off of our bill.
But now I'm confused. Because my fairly reliable friend told me this restaurant was pretty decent, and because the menu that I just saw online is completely different from the menu we were presented with at the restaurant.
What's up? Did the menu recently change? Is this just a sign of growing pains? The menu online had a bunch of noodle and rice bowls which seem much more suited to a strip mall casual Asian restaurant.
Just popping in for an update - I emailed my original post to the management at the Ginger Pad. I got back a very nice and apologetic email, along with an offer for a complementary dinner.
We have not taken them up on the offer. There is too much good food out there and too little time.
Yes, the menu did change recently.
I was shopping at Wayside and thought I'd stop in for lunch, which had been OK if not spectacular on previous occasions. I looked at the menu and it was completely different. There was a huge sushi list, and none of the handy lunch specials they'd had before, but a whole lot of new pan-Asian stuff. I gave it a miss and had an acceptable sandwich at Fresh City instead.
I tend to distrust Pan-Asian as a category. Very few places, especially small ones, can do that many different cuisines well. I'm not surprised at your report.
Re. Fresh City: I usually grab a sandwich at the one in Newton and have always been happy enough. Got one at the Wayside Commons location, recently, and it was quite a few steps below Newton's sandwiches. Veggies not as fresh, little dressing, stale bread. I went before the lunch rush on a weekday so I was surprised.
re: three of us
I have been to the "new" Ginger Pad for sushi on 2 occassions. First time was great and the second time was average. My problem is with the bartender. He is clueless and I observed him dipping a straw into my drink with his finger on the top of the straw and then tipping his head back to sample it as he emptied the straw into his mouth. He then made a face, added 2 packets of sugar and sent it to my table. (it was nasty and didn't match the ingredients listed on the menu).
I won't be returning any time soon. Too many other places that offer better sushi for less $$ with more adept bartenders than the 18 yr old kid they have at Ginger Pad.
re: Eatin in Woostah
When you sit at the service end of the bar where the servers pick up their drinks for the dining room, it's very common to see a bartender put a cocktail straw into a drink and taste it to ensure that it tastes the way it's supposed to. What did the server say when you told them that you saw the bartender put sugar in your drink when the recipe for the drink didn't include sugar?