First a caveat: I know that all openings have problems, especially with service. I'm willing to overlook that entirely. In fact, I had ducked into Bowery already prior to dinner so I had enough single malt in my system to embalm me. Service and inventory problems I'm willing to overlook.
Kitchen problems, on the other hand, are inexcusable, and are the hardest to fix. It means that something fundamentally is wrong.
I sat down for dinner at Charcoal and ordered the lump crab cake, the soup special (cream of mushroom), the mac and cheese, a burger and a side of fries. Never mind that the burger already comes with a side of fries (server didn't tell me that, so I ended up with two; again, not my complaint).
The soup was so heavily salted but the mac and cheese so under salted. Neighboring dineres I overheard complaining about similar things. Also, the burger wasn't very good. At that price point, you can walk a block and get a pug burger at Hungry Cat or for less money, get a pretty good burger at Magnolia.
The final disgrace was dessert when I ordered the chocolate lava cake. It arrived, and I took one slice with my fork and ... nothing oozed out. I looked in the center and the lava cake wasn't a lava cake at all. It was a brownie. Nice almond slivers on top, though, of that brownie.
The best of the evening was the crab cake. I didn't like it at first but after more and more inedible items came out of that new kitchen, the crab cake ended up surprising me with the simple fact that, while not the most daring or innovative in flavor, at least it tasted right.
I'm encouraged, though, that Oinkster made it through its rough patch in the beginning, so perhaps Charcoal will correct itself. But with so many dining options nearby, and the fact that it wouldn't be mind-blowing to begin with, why bother waiting for it?
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