Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cypress, Charleston, SC

It Was The Best Of Times It Was The Worst Of Times

I can't think of a better way to describe our experience at Cypress.

Our very good friends, Ann and Ed are in town visiting from Cape Cod, where, by the way, they are experiencing more snow this week!  With that in mind we tried to make their stay with us as memorable as possible.

In selecting a place for dinner last night we thought about ‘playing it safe and just returning to one of the restaurants we had written about and rated  a “5”.  Adventurous as we are we decided to try something new. 

Cypress is one of the three Hospitality Management Group Inc, restaurants (sister restaurants include Blossom and Magnolias) on East Bay.  Parking is easy as there is a parking lot nestled between the three locations.

Kitchen View At Cypress
The restaurant itself is very pretty.  High ceilings, an antique brick façade, colorful chairs, an open kitchen and a “wine wall” adorn the 1st floor.  There is a second floor seating area that includes a bar, but we did not see it. Ceiling lights changed colors as we were there giving the room wonderful, warm hues.  You'll also see these hues in the food shots unfortunately.

The Best Of Times…….
Although the restaurant would become crowded after we were seated, it wasn’t crowded at all when we arrived. This lent itself to allowing our server to quickly approach our table.  We ordered a few beverages and then began to pursue the menu selections. The menu is very interesting.  There is a page that has your regular app’s, salads, entrees, etc. and a page that has “seasonal offerings” which included ‘Three for $39.00’ selections – appetizer, entrée and dessert.  We liked the variety and the selections.

I was chagrined to realize that I had forgotten my reading glasses.  This would have really slowed the ordering process… The server overheard me and mentioned that customers had often left reading glasses and so they had loaners that I could use.  I took him up on his offer and it was a big plus.

We started with the Crab Cake over Creamed Corn, a Butter Lettuce Salad and the Charcuterie (House Cured Meats Plate).  Chef Craig Deihl is one of only a couple Chefs making his own Salami and dried meats (see the video below). 

Bar none, every dish was terrific. Our friend grew up in Maryland and is a crabmeat afficianato.  She mentioned that her dish was one of the best crab cakes she’d ever tasted. The House Cured Meats were served room temperature which brought out the flavor even more.  A variety of olives also garnished the dish. This too, was very nice.  My Butter Lettuce Salad was “like budda”, but… the top core of the salad was very brown. How do you miss that? Brown-ness aside we thought we were off to a great start.

Crab Cake

Butter Lettuce
It was then that we began to wait awhile for our entrées.  No big deal as the company was great.  But I did notice that other servers were much more engaging with their customers than ours.  They were making suggestions, explaining were the local products came from, etc. Our server was just robotic.  "Oh well”, I thought, our appetizers were very good, so perhaps the entrées would be too.

The Worst Of Times………
This is when the fun came to a screeching halt.  First of all, our server was nowhere to be found.  He had four tables that were sporadically sat while we were there. It was tough to get a beverage or anything else for that matter as we never saw him. If I had to pick him out of a line up this morning I couldn’t. That was very frustrating. 

Many runners brought our entrees. The plates were very warm and everything looked good.  Alas, looks aren’t everything.

I ordered the Wahoo. On a dare the server couldn’t really tell me much about it, but it was the only fish dish offered. Two building-block-like pieces of incredibly bland, pan seared fish were served over a succotash concoction that included local beans.  I don’t  think I’ve ever had a more bland dish -  bland and salty, very salty.  The server did mention that it was served topped with shrimp.  I had to search for the shrimp and when I found it it was slightly larger than a kidney bean as you'll see in the photo below.
Pan Roasted Wahoo

Giving New Meaning To The Word Shrimp
The guys ordered the filet that was topped with a house-made Boursin cheese.  It was accompanied by boring, zero flavor fingerling potatoes and asparagus. I think our friend said it best when he said, “Had I known there would be a Tsunami of cheese I would have never ordered this.”  The cheese completely overpowered the meat and the presentation was sloppy at best.
Beef Filet
 An “Oscar” version of a filet was also ordered.  It came with some asparagus and this gross, burnt version of a large potato chip which was inedible.  Each steak had a different degree of doneness although they were all ordered medium. All of the dishes were also very salty.  Our server remained MIA.
Beef Oscar
We got through dinner OK and then he did arrive to see if we wanted dessert. I suggested some decaf and then we all passed on dessert. I had ordered the Three for $39.00 special and dessert was included however.  So I asked for 4 forks so that we could all try it.

Tick tock, tick tock, time marched on. No server and no cheesecake. Finally after we were on our second cup of not-even-lukewarm coffee we asked if the cheesecake had been forgotten. He said it was on its way. We watched then as he scurried around the kitchen.  We started timing this and it was over 12 minutes before it arrived.  This was on top of the first 8 minutes or so we waited.

And THEN the cheesecake was just awful. A small 1 ½” by 2” piece of ricotta cheesecake was served on a plate with three strawberries.  It tasted like packing peanuts.  But the absolutely horrid thing about the dish was it was topped with what appeared to be candied orange rind.  We think that the pastry chef might have mistakenly used salt instead of sugar in making it.  It literally made us all gag.
Goat's Milk Ricotta Cheesecake
The waiter continued with his lack of interest attitude with us even when he knew something was wrong.  Since most of us had been in the restaurant industry we started talking more about our experience that evening.

It started out great then crashed and burned. It was expensive and the waiter had an entitlement attitude (he has worked there for 5 years). Two thoughts came to mind, first the meaning of  “tips", which stands for To Insure Proper Service. We didn’t get any so his tip was a straight 15%.

Second, “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” His time here is painfully over extended.  We put Cypress on the “don’t bother going" list.

We gave Cypress 3 out of a possible 5 plates.

Cypress on Urbanspoon


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