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Crofton on Wells, a report -- long

Deflator_Mouse | Jun 15, 200411:38 AM

My wife and I had dinner at Crofton on Wells last night.

Long story short: good food, disappointingly mediocre service.

Long story long:

We arrived at 8 and were seated promptly. We took about 10 minutes to settle on our food and some wine. To start, we split an appetizer of grilled baby octopus with smoked scallop ceviche and a citrus vinaigrette over a small bed of spinach. My wife ordered the Guinea Hen special (roasted Guinea Hen with mushrooms, ramps, and ####) for her entree. I had the pork tenderloin (served with their signature smoked apple chutney and some corn pudding with a light poblano cream sauce).

It took almost 30 minutes for our appetizer to come out, with nary a visit or even a single word from any of the wait staff in the interim. To the kitchen's credit, it was delicious. The octopus had a great char flavor and a nice texture, the scallops were wonderfully smoky and the spinach pleasantly vibrant. Each piece of the dish was delicious on its own, and went incredibly well if eaten with any of the others.

We then had to wait until about 9:15 before we got out entrees. Our server did stop by once a little after 9 to assure us our food was on its way, and at the end of the meal did thank us "for our patience," but this was too little to late for us. E.g., at one point while waiting for our entrees my wife had to flag someone down to get our water refilled because no had stopped by in half an hour.

We're hardly dining divas, but it was a Monday night and they were not too busy, Crofton on Wells is a fairly upscale place and for the money involved we expected much better service. Not necessarily something like comping us a glass of wine while we waited (though that would have been a very classy touch), but definitely stopping in and updating us, having our water refilled without having to track someone down and ask, acknowledging that the food was taking too long, etc.

As for the entrees, my wife enjoyed her guinea hen, but didn't love it. I had a taste and it was incredibly tender with some nice earthy flavors. But my wife pointed out that it was one of those dishes where the first bite tastes exactly like the last – you know what you're getting into right away, and there will be no additional complexities or surprises with ensuing bites.

I really liked the pork tenderloin. It was cooked perfectly, nicely pink but done. But really it's their smoked apple chutney that makes the dish (fyi, the chutney is available for purchase separately). The corn pudding was also delicious, with just the right amount of spice in the poblano sauce.

We had intentionally ordered just one appetizer to save room for dessert, but by the time we were presented with the dessert menu we were peeved with the service and worried about getting home too late so we skipped the sweets.

We last went to Crofton on Wells about a year ago and had a great meal all around. Excellent food and excellent service. And that was on a Friday night when the place was packed. Last night (Monday) they were doing well, but were hardly swamped with customers.

Hopefully our service experience was an anomaly, because we have enjoyed the food on all our visits.

On a different note, the website for Crofton on Wells mentions a prix fixe menu available M-Sa from 5-6:30. 4 courses for $45, with wine for $65. Has anybody tried this? If so, how does the wine accompaniment work? Do they match each course with, say, a quarter or half-pour of a glass of wine?

Speaking of wine, I must credit Crofton on Wells for their reasonable wine mark-ups (especially on bottle prices). Definitely less than what comparable restaurants mark up. Bottles seemed to be 2 times retail at most, usually much less.

Crofton on Wells
535 N. Wells


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