Monday, August 18, 2008

Watts Grocery - Broad Street, Durham

Friday night, the hubby and I decided on dinner and a movie for our date. We went to Watts Grocery once for brunch in the past and I have been wanting to go back so that's where we headed. We got there around 5:30 and had no problem being promptly seated.

We ordered the hushpuppies to snack on (not realizing they were bringing cornbread) and they were tasty! They were moist, slightly sweet and served with basil aoli. These are big hushpuppies but we still managed to scarf all 6 of them down. Oh and we ate all the cornbread too which was also wonderful!

For my entree I ordered the grilled pork tenderloin over fresh corn pudding served with seasonal vegetables and a summer berry reduction. I asked for the pork cooked medium and it was served as such. The pork was well seasoned, a little heavily salted for my taste, and plentiful. It came with a small gelatinous circle of corn pudding. I ordered this dish because I am a big corn fan. I liked the pudding though it was a little light on flavor, the texture was lovely. The grilled veggies were a brown mixture of eggplant, squash and maybe zucchini. They were heavily seasoned and a good addition to the dish. The summer berry reduction was not present in my dish. I ended up using some of the hubby's bearnaise sauce to drown out the salt of the pork.

The hubby had the steak frites which was a hand cut NY strip
with homemade fries served with bearnaise sauce and grilled vegetables. He asked for his steak medium. It was oddly cooked. 1/2 of the steak was indeed medium but the other half was medium well-well. Perhaps the hand cut aspect left it a little uneven? It was also very fatty for a NY strip. I sampled everything on his plate. The steak was seasoned to perfection, as were the fries. The fries were my favorite. The bearnaise sauce was great and there were no grilled veggies.

By the time we neared the end of our meal, about an hour later, the place was filled with people and busy wait staff. I felt the quality of the food was good, but with both dishes flavors seemed a little unbalanced due to the missing items. The atmosphere is great and despite being packed towards the end, wasn't too loud for our liking.

Now to the service. Our waiter was the worst I've had in the triangle. He even topped our ass of a server at Serena. We were one of two tables he was servicing (at the beginning). He was quite obviously new, uninformative, unattentive and bordered on being rude. Each time we needed something (a refill, our check, etc.) we had to wave him down. Our table was still covered in dirty dishes when they brought our entrees almost 30 minutes later. It was ridiculous.
I understand everyone deserves a chance and I understand being a little uneasy in a new job, but for a $50 dinner (no alcohol or dessert mind you), I expect more from the staff then a shoulder shrug when I ask a question about the food.

Don't get me wrong, we'll go back. Hell we even had another server stop by and ask if we were waiting on our check.

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Vanessa Greenway said...

I totally agree with you. You know, the best places I have ate including the service was the cheap ones! V.

Steve said...

We also had a horrendous wait experience at WG lately. It was a special occasion dinner and my in-laws let me choose the place, and since I had enjoyed every meal at WG before, we went there. I won't go into the whole thing but let's just say our slow service got a lot slower when our server suddenly disappeared for 15 minutes. Then another server came to take our dessert order. When we asked what happened to the first guy, he said "he had to go." Then HE took 15 minutes to get the desserts! This was also a Sunday evening and we got there when the place opened at 5:30. My father-in-law was furious and spoke to the GM, who comped the desserts, but I don't think he'll ever go back there again. Me, I still like their delicious local food angle, but after reading your account I'm not so sure.

Jeni said...

Yeah I really want to love Watts for the local food thing and the grits bowl I had there was just awesome (I don't even like grits)! But sounds like they have some serious service issues to work out.

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