Sunday, August 05, 2007

Disappointment in Asheville

Yesterday Wendy and I took a trip to Asheville with our neighbors Joe and Barbara and their son Kip and his partner Chaz who are visiting from Fort Lauderdale. We spent most of the day walking around, looking in the galleries and shops and generally having a good time. The mountain altitude kept the temperature in the mid 80's, a welcome relief from the 90+ temperatures around Charlotte.

One of our first stops was a small gallery showcasing arts of glass work. Since we were all pretty hungry and really wanted to find a place to eat, Kip asked the shops manager where we might find a good place to eat. He suggested a small bistro up the street, Battery Park Bistro, which we found easily enough. The lunch menu looked acceptible. A variety of sandwiches, salads, appetizers and specials sounded appetizing so we decided to have lunch there.

Walking inside we found the bistro to be at about half capacity and were promptly seated. The space was rather small, a long rectangle with perhaps a dozen tables along one wall and a small bar at the rear. We were seated towards the back with only one table between ourselves and the kitchen. Two tables, whose heights did not match, were pushed together to seat the six of us. A party of four, who had followed us into the restaurant, was seated at the table behind us.

It was about this time that three or four more groups came into the restaurant. What we had hoped would be a nice, pleasant and quick lunch, was about to go badly wrong.

First we noticed that the prices, for sandwiches, were a little steep. $7.95 for a BLT. $8.95 for a corned beef sandwich. I don't mind paying a little more for good food, but I did think the $17 for pasta carbonara was a little steep. Nonetheless, we placed our orders. At the last moment Kip ordered an appetizer of spinach dip. The spinach dip arrived in a timely fashion. The dip was very spicy and Joe didn't like it. Everyone felt it was a little too spicy and we only ate about half. We passed the time talking, waiting for the main course.

After about twenty minutes we noticed that the couple behind us had been served their lunches. Since we had ordered the appetizer we assumed that our food would soon be served. Food soon came out of the kitchen, but it was brought to another table, which had been seated after us. More food, another table. More food again. Not our. By this time we had been in the restaurant for at least an hour. Wendy, who was very hungry, was begining to get very upset. Joe and Barbara quickly followed suit. The waiter assured us that our food would be out soon but after another fifteen minutes we still had not been served. By now of course we were all getting pretty much fed up and were just about to walk out when our food finally arrived.

Before I go any further, let me explain that Joe and Barbara use to own a restaurant, so they know all about the business. When our food arrived Joe asked Kip to show him his pastrami sandwich. Joe was a butcher in his youth, so he knows meat. Guess what? Not pastrami. Then Joe's BLT arrived. You would think for $7.95 they would put more than 1 tomatoe and some burnt bacon on the bread, don't you think. Wendy's anitipasta salad arrived and she quickly noticed that it was served with iceberg lettuce, cheap salami, and american cheese. Definitely not the antipasta salad she ordered. My corned beef sandwich was nothing special either. But by now we were all starving and certainly didn't want to go looking for another restaurant so we ate our lunches in a rather sullen silence.

Having finished his BLT, Joe left the restaurant to go outside, saying he needed to stretch his legs. The truth was he was very disappointed and probably didn't want to blow up at our waiter. Our waiter tried to make up for our experience with free desert of chocolate cake and cheesecake but by now the damage was done. We quickly paid our bill and quickly left the bistro.

Up the street we passed a sidewalk vendor who asked if I would like to sample the jellies he was selling. "No thank you," I said. "We just ate lunch."

"Was it good," he asked?

"Not really," I replied. What else could I say?

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