As a new arrival to Chapel Hill, it didn't take me long to find my way to Crook's Corner, which had been recommended to me as far north as Chicago.
The garden was pleasant and amusing, but the food was disappointing all the way around. We started with a crab claw salad in citrus vinaigrette, which was fine but nothing to write home about, and cheddar-jalapeno hushpuppies, which were burned and tasted unpleasantly of char. The problem was obvious: the suckers were so large that the interior could not be cooked through without burning the exterior. I sent the hushpuppies back to the kitchen and left the choice of substitute dish to the discretion of the chef. We were sent an extremely large cheese plate: cream cheese (goat cheese?), some kind of orange (pimento?) cheese spread, a chile-infused jelly, and supermarket-style crackers. Except for the somewhat interesting jelly, this was more the stuff of a late-night snack in front of the refrigerator than fine or semi-fine dining. I give the waitress kudos however; she handled our complaint graciously and expeditiously.
For main courses we opted for chopped barbecue and barbecue ribs, thinking -- incorrectly? -- that this was the way to go. Both were dry and tasteless. The chopped cue was the worst I've had anywhere in the state of North Carolina: not only dry and tasteless, but somehow mealy and mushy. I joylessly picked at the leftovers for three days and finally threw it away.
Was this experience typical? Is the mighty Crooks a paper lion?
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