Once a month some friends and I get together to drink wine and eat food. The great thing about this is I get to try restaurants I normally never go to or even know about. So for one of our adventures we decided to try the Adams Avenue Grill in North Park.
I don't know what it is about North Park but the restaurants and I never seem to get along (yes a bit of a precursor to this post). Like oil and water, we can never be *alas*. I just feel like North Park restaurants try too hard to be different. Every single restaurant has its own little "special" quirk about them that they think gives them that extra zing. Someone told me it reminds them of the restaurants in Berkeley that all have that flare to them. Unfortunately I personally could care less about any special quirk you have. I don't particularly care where you get your food, the decorations in your restaurant, or how you specialize in some type of food no one else does. I just care about the food. Its just starting to annoy me that whenever someone suggest me a restaurant in North Park there seems to be a caveat of "they do something special" and it has nothing to do with the taste of the food.
Now I don't have a problem if you have that niche you want to fill as the food tastes good.
As mentioned previously, I found myself eating at Adams Avenue Grill. The persona that they are trying to give off is one I find you'd probably find in Hillcrest more often. They like to display independent artists paintings and pictures along the walls, every table has a bottle of wine, and they are trying to impress you with classic American dishes dressed up. Before I scare you away, there are certain parts that are good, just.. more than the ones that are good.. are the ones that are bad. But the waitress did insist that their specialty is home style cooking (aka pot roast, chowder, mac and cheese and the like).
So first up is the soup. Sweet Corn Shower and Crab cake duo.
A cup of creamy corn chowder with a small crispy crab cake. First off, I'd like to tell you that I LOVE corn chowder. When Mimi's Cafe stopped serving free corn chowder I damn near cried. But this is a pretty decent bowl of Corn Chowder. Onions, corn, tons of cream to lend to the thickness and a bit of spice to match the crab cake.
I liked the soup. But I found the crab cake to be a bit dry with small fragments of crab meat. Not really worth the extra $1.25 for the cake.
For the far left of the table to share, we ordered a Asian appetizer trio, consisting of fried Calamari (no idea how that's asian), vegetable spring rolls, yakitori chicken, and assorted sauces (spicy peanut, wasabi pasta, sesame soy dipping sauce)
Anything fried is good. It could be fried trash and as a whole the general population would eat it and declare it to be delicious, food crafted from a master chef. So in that line of thought, the fried calamari was crisp and thin, just the way I like it. Sometimes the chunks are too big and they just outweigh the subtle crust, but this worked out just fine, especially with some sweet and sour sauce.
Chicken was just average with the peanut sauce. Nothing to write home about.. or to blog about (=P).
My dining companions that shared the appetizers really digged on the vegetable spring rolls, but I really can't get too excited about lettuce, sprouts, and rice paper. I might as well have been eating air.
Before I get to my entree allow me to show you what others ordered.
Snake river flat iron. Steak with mashed potatoes and onion rings
Bacon Wrapped BBQ Shrimp with Cheese grits.
Adams Avenue Appetizer Trio. Onion Rings, Crab Cakes, and Goat Cheese and Walnut Fritters.
All the dishes above were well received by their consumers. Now the dishes below, were not so well received.
First up is the Slow Braised Yankee Pot Roast. A classic said the waitress, one of their must orders. Who am I to argue with the workers on the best their restaurant has to offer? So I gave it a whirl.
Horrible. That's the only word I can use to describe it without setting off filters on work computers.
#1. The meat was so dry I think I heard it ask me for water. It was HORRIBLE. Dry and tasteless. Hoping it was just me being picky, I had the people around me try it, and the same result occurred.
#2. The vegetables weren't soft at all
#3. Mashed potatoes were chunky, but at the same time had a granulated taste.
So I barely ate it. I left it on the dish and went back to drinking wine and conversing. Then an interesting conversation occurred with the waitress. My friend suggested that I talk to the waitress and tell her how bad it was. I'm normally a good natured guy, and the dish wasn't terribly expensive so I didn't give it much thought.
When the waitress came around....
waitress: Would you like to take it home?
me with big pile of uneaten food in front of me: No i'm okay
waitress: You sure? it'd make a great sandwich
me with big pile of crappy dry uneaten food in front of me: No, it was just too dry I couldn't eat it, I think it was overcooked or something
waitress: Well no its not overcooked then its probably undercooked.
me staring blankly at her: Uh... its still horrible.
waitress: Well no one has ever said that before about it! people usually love it! *takes my plate away and says no more*.
Hum. Wonderful customer service. Your suggestion for a dish, it comes out horribly, I'm not compensated in anyway for your incompetency as a waitress and then you give me attitude. Right.
Seeing that I was still hungry I decided to order dessert. I saw a giant baked cookie with Ice Cream. I love Pazookie's from BJ's so what could possibly go wrong?
Dry cookie on the edges, mushy over sweetened cookie in the middle. Through out every bite you could taste burnt cookie. On top of that, they seem to have this ODD fascination with cinnamon. Its powdered onto EVERY SINGLE dessert that our table ordered. I'm sorry, I asked for a chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream, not with an extra pound of cinnamon powder.
The night wasn't a total loss, because I was able to go to the supermarket after!
So if you area glutton for punishment and want to pay for overpriced HORRIBLE dishes that a restaurant somehow seems to try and justify with "creative" plating and decorations then you should definitely try this place.
Otherwise, go somewhere else where the waitresses know the meaning of customer service and the food tastes worse than TGIF's.
Adams Avenue Grill
2201 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA