Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Whole Truth

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2008 at 2:35 PM

Try this on for a segue: Fluffernutter recently mentioned plantains. Well, speaking of plantains, a few months ago I raved about The Grill at Green Hills inside Whole Foods, where I enjoyed several incredibly well-priced and delicious meals, including a catch-of-the-day sandwich served with fried plantains. (Segue complete.)

Be warned. I went back last Saturday night. (Yes, my husband took me to the grocery store for dinner. Where has the love gone, you might ask.) It was the most disappointing meal we have had in recent memory. Everything that could go wrong did, most notably that the guest seated closest to the grill was almost set on fire.

Also, the couple next to us got the last order of fried oysters, which is what had lured us to Whole Foods in the first place. But while the dish was waiting to be delivered to them, it was knocked off its perch, and, rather comically, the oysters flew directly into the trashcan. A collective gasp rose from the diners at the counter, most of whom had also been told the last order of oysters had just been sold. When the chef walked across to the seafood counter to replace the oysters, we didn’t know whether to be happy for our co-diners who were getting the appetizer they had been promised, or angry that we had been unnecessarily denied when there were entire beds of bivalves just waiting to be fried, only feet away.

We didn’t dwell on that for too long, because we had other things to complain about. For example, the catch-of-the-day sandwich arrived as a drab slab of fried fish on white bread. No Tuscan loaf. No mayo. No remoulade. No plantains. And seared salmon salad arrived tough as leather, on a bed of greens with no dressing of any sort.

We were not alone in our dissatisfaction. Everyone around us was grumbling. There were no short ribs left. A shopper slipped on spilled water and crashed into my chair. She was not hurt. My husband’s entrée finally arrived after I had finished my entire meal and my plate had been taken away. We had gone to Whole Foods for a quick meal before a 7:40 p.m. movie. We got out of dinner after 8:30.

The only saving grace of the evening was that the painfully overworked staff was relentlessly apologetic and gracious. They explained over and over again that they were short-handed and were training a new person to help out. Our appetizers were comped without our even saying a word. The people next to us, who got both “last” batches of oysters, were comped also. No one was actually angry, and the misery bred some jovial conversation among the beleaguered guests.

But honestly, if it’s going to carry on like that over there, they better start serving booze.

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