Wednesday, March 30, 2011

18 restaurants and this is all we can come up with???

Welcome to Columbia, Illinois.  This small town of just about 10,000 people is located South East of St. Louis, at almost a short 15 minute drive from South St. Louis County or about 20 minutes from Downtown.  In terms of restaurants, there is about 18 restaurants in this area feeding about 10,000 people.  This means that if a restaurant does well, if all of them do well, they could each possible get as much as 555 people; (10,000 divided by 18).  That is a good possibility.  When people here want something to eat, they either stay at home and cook, stay around town, or go to one of the other places nearby, like Waterloo or St. Louis.

A new restaurant has opened in town, or had opened a few months ago and while I like to get there and check out the new places as soon as I can, this one has proven to be difficult.  The restaurant is only open on Tuesday through Saturday and there is seating for about 30 people and no more, inside.  This includes the 2 three person tables near the bar.  So, there isn't a lot of room inside for a restaurant.  This restaurant, serves Cajun food and a lot of people in town have been waiting anxiously for it.

Well, right to the food.  Who Dat's is this Cajun style restaurant and I called in an order on a work day, went up and picked it up about 10 minutes later.  I ordered just two things.  I ordered the Cajun sampler and the pulled BBQ pork sandwich.  Now, the Cajun sampler was "A generous portion of jambalaya, red beans and rice and bbq shrimp...$13"  This is what we received:
  This picture is almost actual size.  This was the first part of this $13 sampler.  We have about 2 cups of Jambalaya, a skimpy piece of French bread with a large hole in it and a tiny piece of corn bread.  The Jambalaya was okay, it was spicy and tasted like the same Jambalaya that you can get anywhere else.  The French bread was useless and that tiny piece of dried out cornbread muffin was quite pointless. This got just a 2 out of 5 from me.
It also came with some red beans and rice and the generous portion of bbq shrimp.

Red beans and rice:
We have about 8 ounces of red beans and rice.  There is a mix of red beans and sausage and chives on top of about a third of a cup of white rice.  They didn't seem as if they were cooked together, which one may expect or even do when making this at home, as the rice had absolutely NO flavor and the beans tasted like spice.  There was no taste of beans, chives or anything else, just spicy-ness.  I give this a poor 1 out of 5.

The bbq shrimp was available for my wife, who loves shrimp.  This generous portion of bbq shrimp was nothing more than 3 over cooked shrimp.  They were past the rubber stage and almost at a crispy stage.  She said it was okay after peeling them and playing with how they were almost gummy and crunchy at the same time.  Most likely, they were precooked and frozen so all they had to do was warm them up again, but they actually overcooked them for us.  A 1 out of 5 is what they received.  As far as this sampler is concerned, we didn't finish the red beans and rice because both of us thought it was bad.

Now, the pulled pork sandwich was next and this $7 dish contained "dried rubbed and slow cooked for 10 hours served on a fresh bun with chips".
This is what it looked like.  That $7 paid for about 5 pieces of hard, tough, inedible pork smothered in BBQ sauce and slapped on a bun.  There is about a small bag's worth of chips in here as well.  My guess is that they bought these chips somewhere and then just grabbed a handful to stick in here.  The dish was okay, like a 2 out of 5.

Now, how could everything have been better?  Well, first thing that got my attention was portion size for the price.  $13 for enough food for one person to eat and still be hungry or maybe fill one person, is a bit much.  The $7 sandwich, was worth about $5 tops.  I would pay about $8 for the Cajun sampler.  $8.99 can get you a huge amount of food at places like Chevy's and here you get half of the amount of food for the same price.

My conclusion:  As much as I don't want to admit it, this is the second new restaurant in town that has bad food.  I mean, there are other places in town that have great food, so why can't they do this?  Are they that full of themselves?  Both this place and the other bad restaurant in town have both owners that come from 'restaurant families'.  I've said it before, but experiences do not go through the genes.  You cannot be good at driving a truck because your father or mom did.  So, to all of those restaurant owners who claim that they will be successful because your father or mother ran a restaurant, guess what, it doesn't work that way!

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