Saturday, March 08, 2008

I've been to Hell's Kitchen ...

I've been to Hell's Kitchen, it's in Minneapolis MN; they have great food. Bob Evans is another story.

Jay and I thought we'd try something different -- not Cracker Barrel. Jay had been reading in the Wall Street Journal that Bob Evans had been expanding and was doing well financially.

We pulled into their mostly empty lot (first bad sign), and noticed how much it looked like a Cracker Barrel. Inside was more of the same: gift shop, and tons of things on the walls. We were seated at a small booth in the mostly empty restaurant.

After a long wait (another bad sign) the waitress came by to take our drink order, and asked if we were ready to order. Having just sat down, we ordered drinks and asked her to come back.
Jay noticed that the menu was more highbrow and had more beef items than CB.

Someone else came by and asked if we were ready to order; we told him we gave our drink order to someone else, he said he could take our order, or we could wait for our waitress to take it -- this whole exchange was odd.

Finally the waitress comes back with our tea, and asks if we are ready to order. Jay asks what is popular, she rattles off a list of incoherent dishes. Jay decides on a turkey dinner, I order the potato encrusted halibut. Off she goes. We are beginning to notice that the other few patrons in the huge room, are also having Twilight Zone experiences.

She asked if we'd like some rolls while we were waiting, and apologized for the delay in getting us our tea. After a bit of a wait she returns with the rolls. She sets both bread plates in front of Jay, and a basket of rolls in front of me. Then she asks how everything is. Jay and I are both thinking of humorous remarks, but say nothing.

She apologized that they were out of straws. Jay questioned, "Out of straws?", I thought, we were just at the Target, if we had known we could have picked some up. Then she admitted that they were out of straws in the front; they had more in the back, but that was far away. After some pressing she agreed to go and get us some straws. While she was away, Jay wondered if the back, was some trailer behind the restaurant.

She returned with the straws and said our meal would be out in soon. She returned shortly and apologized again, this time it was because Jay's meal would be delayed, because the kitchen had put the wrong gravy on his potatoes. Then she starts to set a plate in front of me, I notice that besides some flat thing which could be fish, there are also several fried shrimp. I told her that I did not think that was what I ordered. She pointed at the place mat that had a picture of the sea food platter, and asked again if that was what I had ordered. I explained again that I had ordered the fish. She pointed at the plate, and asked if that was fish. Having not been to Bob Evans before, I did not know if the flat brown thing was fish, large potato cake, or brown dish rag.

I then noticed that the vegetables were in a plastic bag that looked like a cheep shower cap. I (without laughing) asked, "Do you normally serve the vegetables in a plastic bag?" She told us that is how they are served. At this point she picked up that we were not having a good experience, so she asked if we'd needed to see a manager. Jay told her that she needed to see a manager.

She returned to the kitchen to argue with the cooks about what was on my plate. A couple from another table came over to see who we were doing (she claimed to be a cousin of Bob Evans). She said that normally the chain is first-rate.

Finally a soft-talker, assistant-manager came. I said that I was willing to pay for the tea, but not the meal. He whispered, eyes cast down, "It's on us." We got up, stepped into the sleet and drove one block to Cracker Barrel.

We were greeted by a crowd, and had a great meal.

Lesson: I was reminded that if you step into a restaurant on a Friday night at dinner time, and there are but a few patrons -- turn around and leave. To continue is to abandon all hope.

Bob Evans -- Abandon hope all ye who enter here (tm). Now serving in the ninth circle.


flowersgirl said...

This is going to be just one more reason Jay will talk you into eating at Cracker Barrel at every opportunity.

Darlene said...

Oh Bill, I am really sorry about this horrendous Bob Evans experience. I have eaten at several Bob Evans - it is my Dad's favorite place - and have never had an experience like you had. Now sometimes their service is not quick - but we have never had vegetables served in a bag! We have always had good food!