As a Chowhounder from Washington DC and frequent traveler, I make it a point to chow at the top restaurants in any visited city. Seems the Barony Grille which touts a AAA Four Diamond rating would fit the bill in Hilton Head. Oh how wrong that was! My husband, brother and sister in law sat down for a $150pp (NOT incl. gratuity) New Year's Eve dinner at the Grille expecting to be wowed. Here is what happened:
The restaurant manager, David, was affable and showed great promise earlier in the day by showing off his impressive wine list and promising us an incredible "7 course dinner" - we were sold, mostly because the dinner included a bottle of Krug for each couple. Thank God for the Krug- it was the only decent thing about the dinner. Recap:
1. Amuse Buche-
Tastless salmon pastry. But presentation was interesting - it was served on a votive plate which was placed on a small fish bowl with a gold fish swimming around. (BTW-impossible to eat such a morsel with that set-up - suggest a bite to be handled without a fork next time.) Even though pastry was bland, we gave the chef an A for creativity and was encouraged the rest of the meal was as innovative. (not)
2. Consomme w/ Foie Gras -
Consomme was COLD. Blew it for a good foie. Strike one.
3. Warm Spinach Salad -
BLAH. Dressing was bland and not warmed enough. Salad was fresh, though. Dissapointing, but we gave them a pass.
4. Champagne, grapefruit, slush thing
Served in a martini glass. I believe the way this was supposed to be served is a thin layer of ice on top which one breaks to get to the champagne slushee. Interesting concept -bad execution. It was frozen solid. Maybe they should have stuck popsicle sticks in it and had us suck on it! Strike two.
5. Bread and butter
Bread were simple mini-baguette rolls that were comparable to those in your local supermarket. The butter was herbed - but, with dried herbs, not fresh. We asked instead for some extra virgin olive oil and grated parmesean. We were brought cooking oil! No kidding. When I pointed this out to the waiter, he said that is all they had. The fact that this kitchen doesn't even have quality cold-pressed olive oil really scared me. The parmesean cheese was the pre-shredded type out of a bag. Not freshly grated. When I
4. (entree) - Venison and Sea Bass -
We experienced a major issue with one of our servings of Venison and pointed it out to our waiter (more on the service later). The issue necessitated removing the plate from the table and back to the kitchen (hopefully to be disposed of). The waiter simply left my fellow diners with their plates of food sitting on the table getting cold. After an uncomfortable period of time in which my other table-mates were forced to stare at their food getting cold, I walked toward the kitchen to ask for a plate of ANYTHING in front of me so the table would not feel awkward. Affable restaurant manager, David, brought me another plate that he said was for another diner. However, the Venison was not cooked as I requested, so we had to send that one back, too. At this point, the dinner is laughably bad - if not for the $700+ price tag. Restaurant manager should have simply apologized, and let us leave before midnight to find a real restaurant. Instead, he brought a bottle of Folies Deux- unopened to the table. We were so tipsy by the 2 bottles of Krug (remember - only good part of the dinner) we already drank, we accepted this miserable and paltry gesture. Strike 3 (and 4,5,6) Game over.
I had a chocolate tort that seemed like they just pulled it from the freezer. WAAY too cold. Had a pastry shell as a garnish that was mushy and not at all crisp as its should be. We were not even offered coffee at this point.
Bumbling. We had two waiters- both had no clue how or who should take charge and ensure a good meal. They continually poured the wrong waters (sparkling v still), timed the dishes incorrectly, could not explain the dishes, had to be reminded to refill water and champagne glasses. My charger was splashed with the consomme and remained soiled like that the entire dinner. Hey waiter- it takes 20 seconds to replace a charger, why so lazy? The champagne was never even presented - simply popped and poured. As said, coffee was never even offered. We left each of our entrées (venison) uneaten, but the waiter never even thought to ask if there was a problem (venison was horrific, but we were all pretty disgusted by the entire experience and knew complaints would fall on deaf ears at this point). All in all -very unpolished and unprofessional.
For the Barony's price that exceeded Teatro Goldoni, and even the Inn at Little Washington, it was a HUUUGE disapointment. In fact, at any price, this dinner was a disaster.