Having recently relocated to the Charleston area, we decided to give the Old Village Post House a try. They’re one of the Maverick Southern Kitchens locations and were kind enough to include a gift card in our “welcome basket” so we didn’t have much to lose. As it turns out, even free food couldn’t save the evening.
When I called for the reservation the person answering the phone must have been the manager and/or owner. I was impressed when he asked if we’d been there before. When I said that we hadn’t, he asked why and I explained that we recently relocated. He welcomed us and told me that our dining experience would be special and that at the end of the meal we would receive information on their frequent dining program, which could be lucrative if you ate at any one of their restaurants on a frequent basis. I was impressed and looking forward to the evening.
We arrived for our 6:30 reservation. The hostess was pleasant and we asked if they were expecting a busy evening, she said that it was expected to be slow. When we were seated there were two other parties in the section we were in.
She started to lead us to our table. Pet Peeve #1: I don’t know about you, but I hate “two tops” or tables made for two. When I make reservations I almost want to say that there will be three in our party, and then after we arrive say that our “friend” had to cancel. It seems like restaurants are always trying to “squish” us in somewhere. It was no different here. We were asked to sit in a very small two top which was part of a large banquette (latter filled with a very large family with children…). I asked for a different table. The result was a more secluded two top which gave me the opportunity to look at the wall and nothing else. I felt like I was in “time out”.
If you have not been to the restaurant it appears to be somewhat dated, plays to an older crowd and is VERY seafood focused. Not all bad, just something to be aware of.
Our waiter was nondescript and took our order. We decided to order the lobster risotto which was a dinner, as an appetizer to split and then place our order. We thought that as the special, it would be a great dish and very fresh. Our risotto was served tepid at best. It was gritty and very gummy, the lobster was tough. Ut oh, this could be a long evening.
I order the Southern Fried Flounder which appeared to have some very interesting sides – crab jambalaya, okra, and shrimp gravy (which I ordered on the side). My husband ordered a medium well strip, as he is not a fish guy.
The meal came out in an appropriate amount of time. The plates were not appealing at all. Everything on my plate except my fish was cold. The waiter approached our table to find out how things were. My husband asked, “Are her side dishes supposed to be cold?” “No”, he said and he started to take my plate. I suggested that my husband cut into the steak to see if it was cooked properly. As my husband did this is was apparent that the steak was well done. The waiter said, “Maybe it’s just that end. Can you try a thicker section?” Can you believe it?? OK, I thought, we’ll only pay for the other end then…
The waiter took both of our plates and mumbled an apology. My husband watched in open kitchen the manager and the line cook discussed his steak. A few minutes later my dish came back. One of the sides was warm, the rest cold. I said, “Where is my husband’s meal?” The runner said, “It’s coming.”
Pet peeve #2: I came to dine with my husband, not “on the installment plan”. I eat, then he eats, it just doesn’t work for me. I pushed around my somewhat warm, non-flavorful meal while we waited for his meal to arrive. The manager brought it over and watched as he checked the temperature and then said that he would be back to check on us. All of the meals’ previous side dishes had obviously been reused. It was awful and the steak was closer to rare than medium. The manager came back and literally whispered that he was sorry, never asking if there was anything else that they could do.
I get that people make mistakes and that kitchens have bad nights. But to me, it’s how they skillfully recover that makes or breaks the meal. This was ridiculous. Are they so focused on food cost that they had to send my meal out? They couldn’t toss the $3.00 piece (at best, it’s what it costs them), of fish, start over and give us the opportunity to eat together. Very myopic.
After this happened our waiter went underground. We saw him mid-meal to order another drink, he never came back, and that was it. Someone else cleared our plates and said that they would bring our check. We had a gift card so they had to come back again. No apology, no consideration for a comp, a beverage, a dessert. (of which I rarely except). It felt to us as a, “whatever” attitude over our meal, the service, the restaurant in general.
With our discount our meal was still about $100. And get this… we were charged $1.00 to split our risotto. Yes, you heard it correctly – one portion, two plates, one dollar.
I didn’t finish my risotto, I barely touched my meal, and the cocktails were weak. The place was dated – lace dollies? Please, it’s 2010. And the service was terrible. So please take our advice, save your money, and take it someplace that cares about you as a consumer.
I will keep you posted as I continue “Dining around Charleston.”
BTW, we never received any information about the frequency program. Not that we’ll be a repeat customer. Perhaps this was supposed to happen during the time our waiter avoided us.
Old Village Post House gets our Broken Plate rating.
Old Village Post House gets our Broken Plate rating.