I'm not sure what it means to when you start the New Year on an off note. Does it mean the entire year will be like that? I certainly hope not. Perhaps I need to discount last night as some sort of aberration, a sort of late visit by the spirits who tormented old Ebeneezer. Only the message isn't to mend my ways, but to look closer below the surface of reputation.
Being New Year's Eve, my beloved suggested we choose a very nice restaurant and go out to dinner. Even in this horrible economy we had a good year, so yeah, okay, I agreed we should splurge. We'd make the drive to the Old South Mountain Inn.
We won't ever go back.
Arriving early to hopefully beat the crowd, the first thing I noticed, or more correctly didn't notice, was reserved handicap parking. My beloved has a neuropathy, a lingering side effect of the chemotherapy he received five years ago. He doesn't walk well, and the parking lot wasn't even paved. It was a sign. There was not handicap ramp, either. He'd have to manage a few steps. We'd made the drive, so we went in.
The restaurant has a lovely glass-enclosed 'garden room' which was beautifully decorated. We estimated it could seat about one hundred, and it was about one-third full. The waiter (or whatever the PI term is these days) arrived promptly, and immediately informed us he wouldn't (wouldn't, not couldn't)split our check four and two.
Okay, we can deal with that. We ordered. My beloved and my stepdad ordered a beer. My beloved had to ask for a glass. One was brought. My stepdad wrongly assumed he'd get one, too, and had to send the waiter back for one for him. Is it just me, or IS drinking beer from a bottle at a [supposedly] five-star restaurant really acceptable?
Two of us ordered the same appetizer, sausage stuffed mushroom caps. Hollandaise? That must have been the caramelized, fried stuff in the bottom of the dish. Nasty.
I ordered a New York Strip, well done. My beloved ordered a fillet, medium. When dinner arrived, his fillet had been butterflied and was well done. My NY strip was bloody in the center, which I just can't... Okay, that's enough to ruin my morning coffee. I'm not that tough. I can't eat raw meat.
My beloved instructed the waiter to return my steak for a bit more cooking time. What was returned to me was a piece of shoe leather that didn't even have the same shape as the original steak. (I'm sure it wasn't the same steak.) It was burnt to a crisp. I managed to trim the outer edges and eat part of the center, but a very expensive ($28.00) steak was wasted.
We opted out of dessert and coffee, and fled to the comfort of home, our new coffee pot, and some cheap grocery-store brand ice cream. So went my fine dining experience at what is supposed to be Washington County's premiere restaurant. Our waiter did end up splitting our check four and two. Maybe he felt sorry for us. We did tip him, six bucks per person. I hope he's not required to share that with the "chef."
So here I am on New Year's Day, having to start the year off recounting a regretable experience. I'm happy for the owners of the Old South Mountain Inn that they don't need my repeat business. I'm disappointed I can't recommend them.
Next year, we're going to a restaurant where we know with certainty we'll get exactly what we pay for - Burger King.