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Fort Griffin General Merchandise Restaurant / Beehive

shanagain Aug 17, 2009 12:06 PM

After searching the boards, I was looking forward to a recent (Saturday night) experience. But, I'm going to post my yelp post...

I was so looking forward to this evening after reading glowing reviews upon every google search, not to mention the past honors bestowed by Texas Monthly as one of the best steakhouses in TX. Unfortunately, I can't recommend this restaurant at all.

Of my party of five, three ordered the 14oz ribeye, one the prime rib, and one fried shrimp, plus a combination appetizer of fried vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms, onion rings and cauliflower). Both the vegetables and shrimp were cooked in a (tasteless, but that is what it is) tempura-style batter that would've benefited from hotter oil. Greasiness was an issue. But you can't order fried "stuff" w/out taking that chance. A shame that the butterflied shrimp were greasy, though, as they would've been very good.

My main issues were with the prime rib, my (first) steak, and the service. For the price (average to high for the Abilene area - in the $30 range per plate) let me state first that I am never happy to have to go to a salad bar, it's just a thing with me. This isn't Sizzler. But again, possibly that's just me. Maybe others enjoy winding their way past servers and a dangerously violent outward-swinging door from the kitchen to get their greens, carrots, black-eyed pea salad and dressing. I will say that I am a blue cheese fan, and their ranch dressing could've swayed me to that side - it was very good, and the bowl of greens were very fresh.

The prime rib would've been perfect for me, as I prefer a line just between rare and medium rare, but unfortunately, it was ordered medium rare, and was not - it was cool in the center. My son decided he "might like it rare" but I think he was trying not to complain - as 18yo's tend to do when dining with a parent who is complaining on her own.

My first steak, 14oz ribeye, was inedible. I ordered just between rare and medium-rare, and would've had no issues with the cooking - save for the fact that I couldn't cut the thick line of silvery gristle which ran through the entire steak. There was literally no entry point. So I drank my margarita (I'd planned on switching to a cabernet, but our server never showed/asked at the right moment) and picked at my (VERY - as in clearly at least an hour - and we arrived a half-hour past opening) previously cooked baked potato while I waited for our server to reappear.

To his credit he did notice that I was not eating the steak, and offered to have another prepared. I agreed, (rather, my husband agreed for me, I was waffling on the "no" line) as I hadn't eaten but maybe two bites, and was bemused when he asked if I'd like to keep my potato... on my daughter's plate. I literally ended up shoveling the potato onto a (used) salad plate while he took my plate and everyone else finished their meals and I waited.

The second steak was much better, clearly a better cut of meat, and my only complaint would be that they need to take the "Cooked over mesquite" off of their menus - the steaks were definitely gas-grilled with no mesquite flavor whatsoever.

Now, service issues. Drinks sat empty (my second margarita - I'd ditched the idea of wine at this point and decided I needed to stay on stronger liquor!) took for-ev-er to arrive. And if you think that's an exaggeration, let me tell you about yet another issue. The "internet was down" and therefore, the restaurant couldn't accept credit/debit cards. The only solution was for my husband to leave the resto and find an ATM to get cash. My drink was ordered as was about to leave (when we overheard the "internet" issue from another table - who were equally flustered), with the "joke" that the family could stay as collateral while he went to track down an ATM. Honestly, it was annoying. But.. I was already annoyed. And even moreso when he walked back in as I received my second drink.

Finally, I know this is a silly pet peeve, but at $160 (not including tip) I do not expect to have my husband stand in line (awkwardly, in the middle of the 1st dining room, in the only server-path) to pay a cashier for our dinner.

It seemed to me that the restaurant has one foot in "Texas Upscale Rustic" dining, and one in corner-cafe. It needs to choose. I am not sure if they have suffered due to the recent opening of an Abilene location, but I can guarantee that if you are in the Abilene/Big Country area, you would be better served (in every sense) by driving to Buffalo Gap to Perini's, or even stopping in Abi. at Joe Allens.

And of course, the worst part is that I really expected to like this restaurant. The decor is charming and the steaks and prime ribb had promise. Perhaps, on nights when the owners are in attendance, the service and quality does not suffer quite as much, but I cannot recommend anyone take the chance.
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This is coming from a noted "Not a complainer" by the way - as an ex-restaurant owner and server, I feel like I'm probably both a little lax and critical of some issues, so it usually evens out.

  1. DallasDude Aug 17, 2009 12:23 PM

    I cringed and suffered through your experience and can feel your pain. This restaurant has obviously taken a page rom one of the various circles of hades and ran with it. Satan himself might be congratulating the managers as we speak.

    I have issues with glossy magazines such as D and Texas Monthly, who are about sucking up to advertisers, self promotion, waxing delicious tales for fees or other consideration (and yes we all know of the large barter network associated with the media that allows 10k in restaurant scrip to be converted in to lovely villas, beach side resorts or diamond bracelets - yes, cash is king but scrip rocks and often tax free).

    On another note, would love to see the 'ranting waiter' address your issues here. Should prove amusing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DallasDude
      shanagain Aug 17, 2009 12:34 PM

      More than anything, it was just.. sad. Not quite on par with the 7th circle or anything, but sad.

      There are not a lot of "fine" (well, let's go with "great") dining opportunities in this part of the state, and it's clear there was a lot of promise here. Judging by other diners' attire & bearing, the Rustic Upscale reputation remains intact, which is why when I started writing, I just didn't stop.

      ETA: At least we didn't ask for any comps, eh?

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