Watty and Meg: A Report
My wife and I had our anniversary dinner there last night (against my better judgement, based on internet reviews) and man oh man was it bad. The atmosphere is quite nice, the service pretty good, but the food, well, it was awful. I had mussels as an appetizer, which were tasty but had very little panache- just little mussels sitting in their shells, marinated. The small bit of arugula salad which accompanied them was delicious. My wife had the scallops-app, which was bad. Scallops were cooked o.k., but had little flavor, and the fava bean salad was full of practically RAW beans! I don't know if this was intentional, but the result was terrible.
The entrees are where the meal REALLY got bad. My wife had the shrimp with grits(I think) and collared greens. The shrimp was poorly cooked and unseasoned- it tasted o.k., as shrimp does, but was not in any way special. The grits/greens combo was quite good.
I had the hangar steak, and let me tell you it was the worst piece of meat I've eaten at a restaurant in as long as I can remember. It was tough, overcooked (I asked for it medium rare), grisly, flavorless, disgusting. I literally spit huge chunks of it out onto the plate (sorry for the visual). It came with some kind of smoky-mash thingy, which tasted rank, and steamed broccoli. Now, I'm a fan of broccoli, but this was just PLAIN STEAMED BROCCOLI- you know- the kind you make at home. I'm sorry, but at $26 for this entree, I expected a little more "wow" factor.
It was a horrendous meal, and I really don't say that lightly.
Running a restaurant is very hard and I would never disparage something that didn't merit it. It's as if the owners put all their efforts into the design of the place with nary a thought for the food. Again: awful.
What's worse is that my wife and I know the owners personally and could have had the entire meal comped, but we didn't want to go that route and just kind of snuck in unannounced. Kind of wish we hadn't, tbh- last night's meal would've been easier to take had it been free.
My gf and I were there Saturday night. A bit of a disappointment from the get-go. The hostess seemed totally lost. Didn't greet us properly, didn't seem to like her job, and led us to the back. I had the chicken which wasn't memorable...and, it was $21. My gf had the pork which was pretty good. I ordered a cocktail from their menu. The bartender brought two telling my gf, "I brought you one b/c I knew you'd like it." She didn't! And, we were charged for it! Is it me or is it odd that a bartender would bring a drink that hadn't been ordered then charge us for it. The Oreo Bread Pudding was dense and overwrought with Oreo flavor. The (4$!) espresso was just ok. All in all it wasn't a fabulous experience seeing that we walk by this place a lot and were excited to finally be eating there. Last thing: where was the rest manager on a Sat night? No where to eb found it appeared!
Update: believe it or not, we went back there tonight to have dinner with friends of ours and had a much better meal. We decided not to tell Sosie (the owner whom my wife knows) about our bad experience last Friday, and instead gave it another chance.
This time the food overall was much better. And, as I previously said, the room is beautiful and the service attentive. Eating there is a pleasant experience.
I might have been a bit harsh in my initial review, I guess I just wanted the food to be mind-blowing, and it wasn't the first time we were there. It got better, though, so there's hope. We really want the place to succeed. We'll be back, and I'll be sure and post about the experience.
Glad to see this was revised, I went with my wife Tuesday night and thought the place was really quite good. The staff was top notch, in fact a incredibly loud and annoying guy tried to bully his way into a table we had been waiting for and the staff handled it beautifully – in fact, instead of having to sit next to the loud guy, they actually suggested we wait one more minute and then we able to sit at a quieter table. That attention to detail is just what I like to see in a new place. Food was good, I had the grilled shrimp and my wife had the butter lettuce salad. She had the salmon which she liked and had a smooth flavor and I had the cod special, also very good. Overall, I will be back, looks like a good, solid neighborhood place…
I agree with Tay. "Horrendous" sounds a bit strong compared to you the experience you describe.
As for the steak, hangar steak (onglet) is not a great cut of meat. It needs to be lightly cooked to remain somewhat tender otherwise it turns into exactly what you described. It is also not a terribly flavorful cut, so it is usually served with some kind of sauce (like the wine and shallot sauce that is a bistro classic). Also at $26 it seems about $6 - $8 too high for what should be a modestly priced bistro dish.
They have done a great job with the space, so hopefully with some adjustments they can become a fine neighborhood bistro.
"As for the steak, hangar steak (onglet) is not a great cut of meat. It needs to be lightly cooked to remain somewhat tender otherwise it turns into exactly what you described. It is also not a terribly flavorful cut,"
That's a very good point.. It's a "Poor man's cut" and will get leathery if overcooked. It seems everyone is serving it these days but not every kitchen prepares it properly, resulting in a lot of disappointed/disgruntled diners. Same goes for beef diaphragm AKA: 'Roumanian tenderloin' and tuna: To overcook them is to render them inedible.
"It was a horrendous meal, and I really don't say that lightly"
I read this posting several times and to be honest, aside from your unfortunate steak (which you should have returned) most of the rest of your meal sounds anywhere in the range of good to merely uninspired. I think the steak turned you off to the point where it just clouded your opinion of the rest of the meal. EG: Expecting a 'wow' factor from steamed broccoli wfen it doesn't sound as though the dish indicated it would be prepared another way, say for instance, sauteed or with bread crumbs.
If the owners are friends, you should tell them about your dinner experience: The good/bad/ugly. You'll be doing them a favor
Hmmm, let's see...
The uncooked fava beans in the scallop appetizer? A pretty serious mistake in my book- so that dish was bad.
The steak and the side on which it was plopped? Terrible and awful (maybe I was extra-disappointed with the steamed broccoli due to the fact that it happened to be the only edible item on the plate).
The shrimp dish? Average- the nice-tasting sides serving to mitigate the fact that the meager portion of shrimp accompanying them was overcooked, tough, and rubbery.
So, let's total up the damage- half our meal was terrible (1 main, 1 app), the other half merely below average.
That, to me, is a horrendous meal.
"Scallops were cooked o.k., but had little flavor, and the fava bean salad was full of practically RAW beans! I don't know if this was intentional, but the result was terrible"
As you said, it may just be the way they serve them and I'm assuming they were just an accompaniment to the scallops but I'll agree the texture was undoubtedly not pleasant.
"The shrimp was poorly cooked and unseasoned- it tasted o.k., as shrimp does, but was not in any way special. The grits/greens combo was quite good"
Ahhh...You didn't mention the meager portion of shrimp or the tough rubbery part, just that they were ok, albeit not special.
I can now better understand why you felt the meal was 'horrendous'
Given your feelings I'm really surprised that you didn't send anything/everything back.
Its tough to do that sometimes Tay. Speaking up for yourself is not something that everyone is good at. There are those of us who simply don't feel like going tthrough the unpleasantry and breaking our precious anonymity. I have enough attention directed at me in the rest of my life, I don't need it when I eat.