I was inivited to a meal at Crook's this week and was pleasantly surprised, not having been for several years and remembering only the burnt hushpuppies that I was compelled to send back to the kitchen. My wife had the crab cakes, I had the shrimp and grits, and we shared a cheese-and-breadcrumb stuffed artichoke appetizer. It was all tasty enough. The dessert, however, fell flat: the famous Mt. Airy Souffle cake tasted like yet another in a long line of dense, characterless chocolate tortes, a kind of mediocre truffle writ large. It seems that every restaurant these days serves some version of this pointless dessert.
Is the place worthwhile in the end? I suppose this depends on one's budget. At $45 or $50 per person (full meal plus drinks), we're looking for something a bit more interesting, but others might enjoy the straightfoward grub and the hopping atmosphere (the place was jammed on Friday night).
I plan by the way to reproduce the shrimp and gits dish at home. The recipe is given in Bill Neal's grits cook book. It's basically a shrimp, mushroom, bacon, and green onion stiry-fry served over cheese grits. A simple but nice dish. The problem, as always, is getting hold of decent shrimp.