Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sette, Mt. Pleasant, SC

Add In A Chandelier But It's Still A Pizza Hut....


I must admit that I had some trepidation about having dinner at the Italian restaurant, Sette on Coleman Boulevard.  I had eaten at The Boulevard Diner, also owned by “Sal”.  Although the food was OK the food handling was awful, and having Food Safety and Quality Assurance as a responsibility of mine at my last position, it was very concerning to me.

But, many people in our neighborhood spoke so highly of Sette that we had to give it a try. Plus an entrepreneur (Bradford)  and two of his colleagues left Sette after many years to open Graze in the Whole Foods Plaza, which is a huge success.  We thought that his legacy may have lived on.

Make no bones about it; Sette is a former Pizza Hut.  Other than putting a chandelier in the center of the room, it’s still a Pizza Hut. Not that it’s a bad thing, but the décor is somewhat cold.  

We were quickly seated at a two top that was part of a long, hard, wooden, pew-like setting.  Although there was a cushion, all I could think of was the misery when I had been stranded at the 30th Street Train Station in Philadelphia – so uncomfortable.

Special Board
Once seated a 2’ x 3’ blackboard was propped up next to us on a chair displaying the 6 specials. An awkward way to do this, but it seemed to work.  Our server, Alexa, never spoke of the specials but was efficient nonetheless.  We were quickly served a light olive oil and in-house baked bread that was really very good. I thought that we were off to a wonderful start.

As we perused the menu we decided to order an entrée and to split a Caesar salad.  I am a big fan of veal dishes and find that Italian restaurants usually prepare them very well.

Alexa approached the table to take our order.  We ordered the Caesar salad and then I began to inquire about the veal dishes.  She immediately told us that she would not recommend the veal and that “of all the dishes they serve, veal gets the most complaints.” “It’s just not good,” she continued. “It’s tough and I would not order it.”

Caesar With Brown Lettuce
I applauded her candor.  But thought if this is how the staff is feeling, why isn’t something done to change this?

My husband landed on the Pine Nut encrusted chicken (one of Alexa’s favorites), and I chose the Seafood Fettuccini.  We waited a brief time before our salads were served and watched as the small restaurant began to fill up.

Our salad had been split for us on to two small plates, which was nice.  We asked if the restaurant had anchovies, they did not.  However, we were assured that the dressing had anchovies in it and was very tasty.

My first bite of the salad was disappointing as it was very bland.  And, although the lighting was dim we began to notice that most of the lettuce was brown, and that most of it wasn’t the leaves but rather the “core” of the lettuce.  We gave the salads back to Alexa. 

Seafood Fettucini
If you think about it, a lot has to happen before our salads hit our table. First, someone had to either get the portion of Romaine, or portion the Romaine.  Then they had to toss the Romaine in dressing, split the portion on the two dishes and add croutons and freshly grated cheese. Since the kitchen was well lit I found it very hard to believe that the quality of the Romaine went unnoticed.  Is this what they always serve it? Bleech.

Our entrees were a mixed bag. My Seafood Fettuccini was hot, spicy and flavorful. No complaints on my end. But the Pine Nut Encrusted Chicken was a different story.  If you’ve been reading along you know that I’m usually the one that has food envy when we go out.  Without fail I always seem to pick the wrong thing off the menu. Tonight I definitely got the better meal for a change.

Balsamic Drenched Chicken
The “Balsamic reduction” was hardly reduced. The dish looked like two large chicken breasts sitting in an oil change.  And unfortunately, its flavor also faltered.  There was not a pine nut to be seen. The “crust” of the chicken was gummy and the procciuto was rubbery.  The mashed potatoes and asparagus (all three stalks) were so infused with balsamic vinegar that they, and the entire dish, was almost inedible. 

Again, someone on the expediter’s station saw this dish that looked that bad and decided to serve it to us. 

It answered my question as to whether I would ever dine at Sette or “Sal’s” 6 other restaurants again, and the answer is no.  We stopped at Harris Teeter on the way home so my husband could get something to eat. And after my “bench detail” at the table I felt like I was in need of a chiropractor.  This is a restaurant to skip.

We gave Sette 2 plates 5 out of a possible 5 and that's probably generous.



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