My plan was a simple one.
Since J. was going to be in town for the weekend, I decided to plan a trip for the two of us plus Madge and Boris to have a pleasant day up in Jerome. We would arrive around noon, have a nice lunch and then walk around the tiny village for an hour or so, poking into shops and taking photos.
Little did I know that at 3 o’clock that afternoon, we would be dining at a Jack In The Box in Cottonwood.
It all stared delightful enough. We climbed into the car and made our way toward Prescott to catch the backroad into the city. The only glitch was the horrible traffic we encountered in Prescott Valley where the traffic lights were plentiful and hadn’t been timed. But we made due because it was just part of the experience.
After making our way through the back roads, we found ourselves rounding the curve and into Jerome proper. The place was packed and parking was at a pure premium. After two surveys of the city, we finally found parking near The Asylum restaurant overlooking the Verde Valley and the red rocks of Sedona. We parked the car and walked up the long, steep stairs to the entrance. After entering the place, we discovered there was a 30 minute wait, which we were fine with as it gave us time to relax and take a few photos.
Standing out on the patio, we had a captivating view of the town and points beyond with an occasional blast of chilly air. However, the minutes passed quickly and we were called as our table was ready. I was more than thrilled by the fact that our table was next to a large set of French doors that overlooked the red rocks. It couldn’t have been a nicer setting. We were handed menus and our host departed.
After a few minutes, we all picked up on the fact that there seemed to be some confusion about who our server was going to be for the afternoon. We watched as one server took charge of the table north of us, south of us and west of us. All the while, he would circle our table without so much as acknowledging our presence. After about 10 minutes, a member of the bus staff arrived and served us tall highball glasses of water. After another five minutes, I saw the aforementioned waiter walk over to the host station and have a chat with someone who I believed to be the manager. The manager and the server looked at our table and then had a discussion and then the server arrived saying that he would be taking care of our table.
He asked us if we were ready to order and we began with two Diet Cokes ($2.50 each), one Iced Tea ($2.50), and one bottle of Boylans Creme Soda ($3.00). We decided to split an order of the Boneless Buffalo Wings ($9.75). For the entrees, I selected the Turkey Sandwich ($9.00), J. had the New York Cheesesteak ($12.00), Boris chose the Angus Cheeseburger ($9.00) and Madge had the Spicy Chicken Salad ($12.50). I also ordered a Field Green Salad ($5.50) with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing and J. had a bowl of the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup ($6.50).
Our server left the table and we crossed our fingers that everything would be great.
After another 15 minute wait, we were becoming concerned because our drinks had not arrived and our waters were not being refilled. It was as though our table was in some imaginary no-man’s-land. When our server did return, he informed us that he couldn’t get us our drinks because they were out of beverage glasses. He said he would have them out as soon as possible. What we failed to understand was why they didn’t use other glasses, such as the tall highball glasses they were using for water glasses, or the huge wine glasses that they use for wine service as well as sell as souvenirs? So, we tried to be content with our waters, but we had to continually beg the bus staff to fill our glasses.
Another 15 minutes passed and our server told us our appetizers should be out soon. He repeated this mantra about five minutes later. Finally, after an additional 10 minutes, we got our beverages, but they forget sweetener of any kind for the iced tea and we had to ask the bus staff for some sweetener.
More significant time passed and our salad, soup and wings finally arrived. J.’s soup looked quite good and smelled wonderful. The square bowl was filled with hot Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with a swirl of Cinnamon Lime Crema. J. said the soup was very good and had a substantial spicy kick to it. Boris tried a taste as well and was pleased with it.
My Field Green Salad was fresh and crisp with a variety of lettuces and a pungent, tangy balsamic vinaigrette that I thought was excellent. The greens were ice cold and I loved the two pieces of whole grain bread that were served with the salad. The bread had a soft interior, a chewy crust and a savory flavor. My spirits were beginning to pick up.
The Boneless Buffalo Wings, however, were a complete disappointment. While we all agreed that the sauce was good, the chicken was tough and the chunks had been breaded with the skin still on the chicken, which only added to the toughness. We also noted the paltry size of the dish. Four small “wings” for nearly $10.00. Ouch. We also didn’t quite understand who was responsible for the Blue Cheese Dressing. It was as thin as water and had almost no flavor.
We then went back to the waiting game where refills on drinks were never going to happen. Then, things took an even worse turn when tables that had been seated long after we were started getting their food. Each time our server would deliver food to one of those tables, he would stop by and say our food was “coming out shortly.”
At the 75 minute mark, I finally had had enough and went to the host station and indicated that we had a problem. If things were bad enough, the host blurted out, “I really can’t help you. It’s my first day here.” And with that, I demanded someone get my bill as we were going out the door. The brainless host just stood there until another person arrived and asked what the problem was and I sternly said that everyone else in the dining room was getting their food, but we weren’t. I said I wanted our bill. The individual I spoke to asked which table I was at and I pointed to my guests. He turned to a bartender and asked him to print up the bill.
When the bill was presented, I knew there was something wrong as the total was $75.00. Looking at the bill, they had drawn up the wrong bill from the computer and I said it was not our bill. The man then said that he would have to get our server. Wonderful. We didn’t want to deal with our server again. Our server appeared at the host station and asked what the problem was. I was dumbfounded. He knew what the problem was and the man I was spoken to asked him to get our bill. He went to the computer and pulled the bill instantly and presented it to me.
It was evident that our entrees never made it into the system. He couldn’t have possibly removed the items that quickly and they were not even on the bill. He then sort of chuckled and said, “Well, sorry about that.” The injury to the pathetic service was a bill for $35.27 for sodas, a side salad, wings, a bowl of soup and an iced tea. I dug two twenty dollar bills our of my wallet, handed them to our server and pointed said, “I want all of my change back.” He then said, “Oh! Really?”
What an insufferable dolt. This jerk actually thought I was going to give him the $4.63 as a tip.
At that point, I just turned, threw open the door and scurried down the steps, saying lots of things that I am sure would make a sailor blush. Once in the car, I profusely apologized for the horrible lunch experience. J. reached over and squeezed my hand while Madge and Boris assured me that it was all a crap shoot when walking into a restaurant we had never been before. However, I was still fuming. We debated trying to find another restaurant in Jerome, but the crowds were thick and there were lines out of the doors at other restaurants we saw.
We decided to skip Jerome all together and drove down the mountain toward Cottonwood. We turned onto the 260 Highway and saw a Jack in the Box and decided that since it was 3 PM, we should just get fast food. We pulled in and ordered and had our meals and drinks hot, fresh and ready in under five minutes.
As we drove back to the Valley, Madge, Boris and J. kept talking about the numerous plays on words I could make with The Asylum. Boris won the contest with “The Asylum - You would have to be crazy to eat there.”
All I know is that The Asylum was a train wreck and I am still livid that there was no management intervention to at least apologize for the situation.
I wanted to have a pleasant day trip to Jerome because I hadn’t been there in 30 years.
It will be at least that long before I return.
200 Hill Street
Jerome, AZ 86331
Hours: Sunday through Saturday - 11 AM to 3 PM and 5 PM to 9 PM.
Notes: The Jack in the Box in Cottonwood is on the right after turning onto the 260 Highway.
Alcohol: Full bar.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com
200 Hill Street, Jerome, AZ