Friday, December 3, 2010

Lack Of Management At Edgar's Restaurant


When eating, often times we don't even tend to think about it unless there is too much or too little. I personally believe that salting a dish correctly can be one of the hardest skills to learn in a professional kitchen. The application, of course, is quite simple: grab a pinch between your forefinger and your thumb and then generously sprinkle it over whatever you are trying to season. Knowing exactly how many of those pinches to use is the real trick.

After my last visit to Edgar's Restaurant, I couldn't wait to write up and share the experience with my readers about the amazing food I had eaten during an inaugural visit to this hidden Akron gem. Within days it seemed, the idea for a dinner party between myself and two others germinated and grew until it became nine of us. My dinner guests ranged from a fellow food blogger to middle school and high school friends and even two guests of a guest I had yet to meet. Excited about the prospect of a great meal, we all convened on the restaurant at the appointed hour and eagerly began thumbing through the menu.

While the majority of the menu was the same as the first time I visited, I did decide to include a photograph of today's specials menu:

Edgar's Restaurant Daily Specials
After filling all of our drink orders, our server started the meal by bringing out some of Edgar's homemade sliced bread and butter:

Bread and Butter Service
Fresh bread is always appreciated, even if it isn't particularly complex. Just like last time, the bread was fresh and had a nice yeasty and slightly acidic smell to it. While I didn't partake of the butter, I did use a slice or two to mop up the delicious barbecue sauce that accompanied my appetizer tonight.

Speaking of appetizers, having tried and absolutely loved the barbecued pork ribs during my previous visit, I was eager to try another of Edgar's amazing smoked items this time around as well. After reading the menu's description of the hog shanks, I was hooked: "Meaty braised pork foreshanks, sweet & spicy sauce, blue cheese dip, celery, carrot sticks." Sign me up, please.

Soon, the hog shanks arrived:

Smoked Pork Foreshanks
While I was expecting larger pieces of barbecued meat, I made the realization that with the celery and carrot sticks and the side of blue cheese, this could have been a chicken wing substitute. The only problem was that the kitchen hadn't included the blue cheese. No matter, I was here for the pork.

Here was a close-up shot of the pork foreshanks:

Close-up of the Pork Foreshanks
Wow, this delivered! The pork easily separated cleanly from the bone and was tender, moist, and just slightly smoky. The barbecue sauce, no doubt homemade, had an appropriate balance between smoky, sweet, salty, and tangy. After finishing the meat I had separated from the bones, I used the slices of bread to do some serious sauce sopping. (I'm assuming that licking the plate was probably not on Miss Manners's Etiquette List.)

All that remained of my appetizer were the cleaned pork bones and those lonely looking celery and carrot sticks:

Cleaned Bones
All of the entrées tonight came with a house salad. I decided to go with one of Edgar's homemade dressings, the White French:

House Salad with Homemade White French Dressing
While the salad itself was a bit pedestrian and came out completely unseasoned (which didn't surprise me), the dressing added a wonderful flavor to the greens which made eating this somewhat pleasant. Almost all of their salad dressings were made from scratch and of the two I've had so far, I believed they were doing a good job. What sort of left me scratching my head, however, was of the seven or eight varieties that they offered, one of them was a commercial dressing. Why not just make that one, too?

Up to this point in the meal, I would say that everyone was thoroughly enjoying the food. Other than my appetizer coming out sans blue cheese dip, there was nothing out of the ordinary. That changed when our entrées arrived. Visually everything looked good, but it turned out for those of us who hadn't ordered a barbecued item for an entrée, we were in for a big surprise.

I had decided to go for Edgar's Buttermilk-soaked Pecan Fried Chicken with Garlic Mash and Sautéed Green Beans:

Buttermilk-soaked Pecan Fried Chicken Platter
Let's start with the chicken:

Fried Chicken
The chicken was well fried. It was cooked all the way through, but wasn't dried out. The coating was crispy and definitely had seasoning, but once you were through the crust, the chicken meat itself lacked enough seasoning to carry the dish. I realize that the chicken was "buttermilk-soaked," but I'm thinking that "buttermilk and brine-soaked" might have been a better way to make sure that the meat was seasoned a bit more thoroughly. That being said, the chicken was, by far, the best thing on my dinner plate tonight.

Next up, the garlic mash and green beans:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
The good news was that there was definitely a garlic flavor to the mashed potatoes. And the potatoes themselves, while not completely light and airy, had a nice texture to them. However, between the potatoes and the green beans, there wasn't a lick of salt to either. Without any seasoning, I might have just as easily substituted wallpaper paste, albeit with a little garlic flavor.

Additionally, two of my guests tonight ordered the Barnsey Burger, a new addition to Edgar's menu described thusly: "Grilled 10 oz. ground pork & sirloin, stuffed with smoked brisket, applewood smoked bacon, mozzarella cheese, toasted ciabatta." Sounds good, right? According to both diners who ordered this sandwich, the burgers come out with zero seasoning and tasted like boiled meat completely devoid of any smoke flavor that both the brisket and the bacon should've added. In fact, the sandwiches were so bad (although apparently the sweet potato fries that accompanied them were okay) that both guests called over our server and asked her to return them to the kitchen.

Our server executed the appropriate response by apologizing and asked both patrons if they would like the kitchen to prepare them something else from the menu; both declined and decided to share their spouse's entrées. I am not here to comment on whether I think that my guests should or shouldn't have sent their dinners back to the kitchen. What I will comment on is the fact that at no time did a front of house manager come over and try to make things right with the two individuals. Even an apology, warranted or not, would've helped. In fact, with a dinner party this size, had nothing gone wrong during the meal, a manager should still have stopped by during the three and a half hours we were there to make sure our experience was a positive one.

Wanting to end my experience today on a positive note, I decided to partake of the dessert tray. Amazingly, when I asked our server which of the desserts were homemade, she indicated that none of them were, but several were made by a customer. Considering that there were at least eight or nine different dessert choices, I thought to myself, "That must be one generous customer."

After contemplating my options, I decided to go with a slice of the Pumpkin Cheesecake:

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Topped with a crumble, small dollop of whipped cream, and a single walnut for garnish, the cheesecake slice was plated on a dessert dish that had been drizzled with a caramel sauce. I cut a bite, dragged it through the caramel sauce and placed it in my mouth. I was happy to discover that the customer who made this dessert had a much better sense of balance than the kitchen did tonight. Basically, it was very tasty. The cheesecake was moist and creamy and had both a forward pumpkin flavor and traditional pumpkin "spice" blend. Even with how full I was after my entrée (and I ended up only eating half of it), I was surprised at how much of the cheesecake I was able to consume.

Tonight's meal had some off and on moments to it, most notably a noticeable lack of management both in the food coming from the kitchen as well as the management of the front of house. Whether we had a good or bad experience, a manager should have stopped by at some point during the meal to make sure everything was going well and take corrective action if it wasn't. I thought our server did a good job dealing with the problems herself, but having two out of nine entrées sent back to your kitchen definitely warranted a visit from someone with more authority.

Despite the problems tonight, I am definitely willing to go back to Edgar's and give them another chance. The food the first time was so delicious and all of the barbecued items we ordered from tonight's experience lead me to conclude that perhaps tonight was one of those "off" nights restaurants have from time to time. I'm still recommending that you give Edgar's Restaurant a try if you haven't already, but please take my recommendation with a grain of salt. You might need it for your food.

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