Tuesday, May 12, 2009

64 Reasons to Skip Kitchen 64



Okay, okay, so 64 reasons is a slight exaggeration. Slight. But the way I see it I have quite a few. Let me however, start at the beginning.

Saturday last minute we decided to go out to dinner for my birthday (read that as a perplexed husband looking at me saying, “Oh, so you want to DO something for your birthday?” Uhhh… yeah..something like that.) And as is our typical dilemma we wanted to eat outside but were not sure where to go. This leads me to a side note, since this is a constant issue for us, I have considered starting a blog specifically dedicated to outdoor dinning in Richmond. Other then Legends, which has terrible food (but great beer) and Havana 59, I am always at a loss for where to go. So if anyone has suggestions, let me know! I digress, so I began to search for places and after a while we settled on Kitchen 64. I had read several good reviews on Richmond Good Life and the menu looked great. I did have one fellow food blogger tell me he thought it was “over rated.” We decided overrated is okay, so long as it isn’t bad.

We arrived at 6:45 and as expected, it was packed. We waited at the bar to be seated and it was about a 20 minute wait, which I didn’t think was terrible considering how packed they were. It wasn’t quite what I wanted when I want outdoor dinning. The outdoor section is under a huge canopy, and they have removable plastic “walls.“ I realize the canopy allows them to seat outside in the rain, however, it also holds in all the noise and blocks out all the air, so I ended up feeling like I was indoors, just close to a window. So first note to myself, “This is not a place to come to when I feel like being outside. “

We ordered mussels as an appetizer. Joel ordered a Gus burger ( a burger with a fried egg on it) medium rare. I originally ordered crab cakes, but when I heard the waitress tell the table next to us that they had a special of soft shell crab (she had neglected to give us the specials) I asked if I could switch. The mussels came out and it was a huge bowl. I was excited to dig in. however, the first mussle tasted really funny. Joel said the same of his. Then I got a terrible smell. I said, “Joel these are spoiled.” My dear husband ate another. He said he thought it was okay. He did not say it with confidence. I picked up another and smelled it and just about gagged. We waited about 10 minutes to tell the waitress (though the waitress came to the tables on either side of us and we tried to flag her both times) finally the smell was so bad, Joel just took them to the bar and got them away from us. The waitress finally came over but didn’t say anything (just a note: later she did say, she checked and the mussels had come in that day, so they were sure why they were spoiled?) .

Then our entrĂ©es came. Joel’s burger, was very, very well done. Otherwise he said it was good, but he was only able to finish ¾ of it because it just started to get too dry too eat. The fries were really good. My soft shell crab. What to say?? First the sauce was terrible. It was sour, with no balance. It was bitter. It just wasn’t good. It was a white wine, caper sauce, I don’t know how you mess that up, but it was bad. However, that I could have lived with. I just fished my crab out and went to savor its succulent little self. However, my soft shell crab…. was not soft. It wasn’t soft-ish. It was not chewable. Literally.

There are just certain things I find unforgivable with a restaurant. I will forgive not loving how you prepared the food. Everything else being okay, I might come back and try another dish. I can forgive a not great server, if I think they were an exception and not a rule at a restaurant. I will forgive the noisy din that makes conversation hard, I just might not come back for a romantic date, but rather a girls night out. However, I absolutely, unequivocally draw the line at being served food that has spoiled. There are several things about the mussels that bother me. First, the chef or the server should have been able to tell they smelled off and not served them. I know seafood can spoil quickly, but I expect a restaurant to be using such fresh ingredients and handling it with such integrity that I should never have to worry about getting sick form what they feed me. I just think it is negligent, and shows a lack of quality or concern for their patronage. My thought is if you don’t care about serving safe food, you don’t care about my money. The soft shell crab I am not sure how I feel. I couldn’t tell you how to pick a good soft shell over one that is a bit too old to be considered “soft”. I just always ask my local fish monger if they are good. They have always been very honest with me. Maybe this restaurant has a bad monger. Maybe they just don’t care. After the total experience, I suspect the latter. The reality is they are packed (though for the life of me, I don’t know why???) and making money hand over fist, so what do they care.

So was there any positive? Yes, their drinks were very reasonably priced and large servings, which frankly was very well needed because it was the only caloric intake I was getting that evening. Also the waitress did not charge us for either the mussels or the soft shell crabs. So, I guess that was good????

If you live on that area of town, go to Taste buds, go to Dots, skip Kitchen 64. If you don’t live on that side of town, don’t make the trip.

14 comments:

Coleen's Recipes said...

Sorry to hear that your birthday dinner was so bad. Maybe you can ask hubby for a do-over. Happy Birthday!!

RVA Foodie said...

I'll just go ahead and identify myself as the food blogger who advised against this outing (the exact words of my text message were "unjustly popular"). I've still never been to 64, but it just never seemed like they needed my business and my instincts (and other stories like this one) tell me that I don't need their food. So, we're all in agreement.

Kristen said...

Sorry to hear your birthday meal was less than enjoyable - hope you had a great one otherwise, Happy Birthday!

foodbin said...

oh! what a way to celebrate your birthday.

girlichef said...

That's too bad :( Hope it didn't spoil your b-day.

veron said...

First happy birthday!! I'm so sorry to hear about this horrible experience...I've never been to Kitchen 64 and now I truly have no desire to even try...

BaconGrease said...

I have been to kitchen 64 for lunch several times, and they have always been very busy. The food was good, typically I will just get a sandwich (The Manolito is my favorite, cuban with chorizo) but on occasion it took a long time to be served. Another option for outdoor eating in the general area is The North Side Grill, they recently openend the outdoor patio. The menu is a bit simpler and straightforward, typically a diverse clientele and nice service.

Chef E said...

I am sorry you had this bad experience! We have visited restaurants that have been last minute and reservation experiences that were like this, and how disappointing it is...the last one I heard closed here...maybe my blog post on it got around :)

Chris said...

I'll pass, although I wasn't going to be in the area anytime soon either;)

Swestie said...

Now Vanessa, I'll rally FOR Kitchen 64. I've been there several times and enjoyed my food every time. I wouldn't say it's FABULOUS, but what I go for when I go there is exactly the outdoor seating... but you gotta go when the tent ISN'T up. That's just a seasonal thing to expand their table count when the season is cold.

I would not consider going to Kitchen 64 a culinary experience... more like going to a neighborhood-y place that has a super-duper patio.

When are we gonna get our own over here???

Bryan said...

I've been to 64 twice and was not impressed either time. The food was "okay", but not better than what I could cook at home (and I'm not much of a cook). Both times the food was lukewarm-to-cold by the time it got to the table. I live in Northside, so it would be great to have a good place close by, but I just honestly don't understand why this place is so popular - and why it hasn't gotten any better over the years since it opened.

Anonymous said...

I will second the over-cooked burger and the lame "outdoor" setting. Never going again!! Please do start a list of outdoor dining places- I have noticed more opening up but a list would be handy.

Anonymous said...

I live just down the street from Kitchen 64 and have been there many times. The food and service definetely can be hit or miss at times. I would call it a good neighborhood place, not a must go to place. I do wish they'd take that tent down, it's an eyesore.

Mommy Gourmet said...

I am all for a local place here!! That said, if I want a neighbor-hoody experience, I call may neighbors for drinks, if I want food, I go to a decent restaurant. If Kitchen 64 were in walking distance, I might go for a drink…food, unlikely.