Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rutledge Cab Company, Charleston, SC

Keep the meter running, we'll be right out……. Not so much.

Bob Carter’s newest foray into the Charleston restaurant scene is a swanky new number called Rutledge Cab Company.  Talk about off the beaten path! As you drive up Rutledge Avenue to #1300 you find yourself in a somewhat quiet neighborhood that now hosts one of the newest restaurants in Charleston.

Formerly a Cab Company (no shortage of naming rights here…), the building has been transformed into a fun, open and lively place.  The ceiling is lined with 4 x4’s and the lighting they’ve selected is equally as funky, but it works.  Extending almost the entire circumference of the building is a semi-enclosed patio that I’m certain will come in handy as the weather begins to warm up.

We arrived early (6ish) on a Friday night.  When we pulled into the parking lot we were told that both the regular and auxiliary parking lots were full.  We would have to park on one of the surrounding neighborhood streets.  It made me think that the neighbors must be thrilled with this new addition!

While my husband parked the car I proceeded into the restaurant to find out how long the wait was.  Three attractive young ladies greeted me at the host stand. Dressed all in black and each with a different colored scarf as their “garnish” they were more than happy to help me.  “Twenty five minutes,” one of the hostesses said.  I put our name on the list and went to find some space at the bar as I waited for my husband and our friends to arrive. 

I can tell you that the place was packed! And if you want a restaurant where you can have a conversation with someone, this is not the place.  Rutledge Cab Company is over the top LOUD.  Did I say loud?

Our friends arrived and we had a beverage at the bar as we waited for our table.  I was the only one courageous enough to order one of their specialty cocktails, The Welcome Back Carter.  It was a delightful mix of fresh tangerine juice, fruits and all in, a very nice beverage.

Our 25-minute wait quickly came and went.  Only we didn’t.  A bit past the 60-minute mark we were seated.  I hate that. If you don’t know how to determine the amount of time for a wait, then find someone who does. Our server apologized saying, “Sorry we had three 10-tops.”  Not my problem.

Both Bob Carter and his managing partner, Andy Fallon run this venue. They were at The Peninsula Grill as the Executive Chef and front of the house manager for many, many years.  Might I mention that the Peninsula Grill is one of a very limited number of restaurants where “jackets are suggested”.  Do you think this type of nonsense would have been tolerated there?  I doubt it.  Enough about this rant, but trust me, there’s more to come…

When we were finally seated we had a table that was directly under a bustling HVAC vent.  It was like sitting in a very cold wind tunnel.  We were freezing.  (p.s. Thanks Bob for the terrible cold I now have.)

Uncertain of what we wanted to drink we ordered some still and sparkling water.  Eleven+ minutes later our server delivered the water, turned and bolted from the table.  Was it something I said? We had to flag another server down to ask to for our server.  When she arrived we told her we’d like to start with The Fillin’ Station Charcuterie and bam! She was gone.  We wanted to place our dinner order and by the way, PERHAPS a beverage order – not happenin’.  Good thing there was a server assistant on that evening that kept our water glasses full.
Twenty five, (yes, 25) minutes later our appetizer was delivered.  Before she set it on the table our friend told her we’d like to order for fear we'd lose here again.

The Charcuterie, although taking what seemed like a lifetime to arrive was actually very, very good.  An interesting combo of fried bologna, hoop cheddar cheese (very mild), smoked sausage (off the hook), potted meat (reminded us of deviled ham), country ham, pickled veggies and saltine crackers.  The dish was fairly simple, but each item had a unique twist to it.  Things were looking up! We were still very cold and could barely hear each other, but the food was very good. 

During our wait Bob Carter arrived at the restaurant.  People cheered for him.  Are you kidding me?  Did he think he was Elvis or something? All I could think of was rather than schmoozing with the hostesses and scampering around the restaurant, I wanted to shout out – “Get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich!”  Could he not see that most of the tables, like ours, were not eating?

We again hunted down our server to order a beverage.  That’s another 12 minutes I’m never going to get back… Nor is the 45 minutes that it took to receive our entrees.  I get that the restaurant is new, as many people were excusing-away-the-lengthy-ticket-times.  But if you’re not ready to open, then don’t.

The menu is fairly simple, apps, salads, sandwiches, grilled pizzas, burgers, kabobs, a few entrees and breakfast served any time.  Our order, a burger, fish tacos, a Reuben and eggs over easy surely should not have taken so long.  Obviously the kitchen was not just in the weeds, it had ignited.
Beef Burger

Eggs from the breakfast all day section

Fish Tacos

The Reuben
So was it worth the almost 3 hours it took for dinner? Yes and no. My husband’s beef burger ordered medium was served ridiculously rare, which was disappointing, and the tempura on top was soggy (and no we didn’t send it back because we couldn’t find our waitress again). The accompanying signature small mason jar of pickled veggies and fries were great.  The fish tacos were a win and so were the eggs. My fries were dead and quickly replaced. The Reuben was just ok. The corn beef brisket and cheddar (my substitute) was good but the sandwich lacked sauerkraut, which was all but missing.  The roll was hard from sitting under the heat lamp too long.  My requested spicy mustard had to be hunted down.  Hardly worth almost an hour wait.

Andy stopped by when we were finished with our meal and asked how our meal was.  We mentioned that it wasn’t that great, and he was obviously perturbed.  “We’ve only been open two weeks and it is Friday night.”   From where I sit, my money spends the same whether it's your first day open or you've been open a year. Poor planning on your part does not necessitate forgiveness on my part.   

We gave Rutledge Cab Company 2 out of a possible 5 plates.

Rutledge Cab Company on Urbanspoon


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