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Mother's Day tales: Never Blue and La Riserva,Hendersonville, NC

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Mother's Day tales: Never Blue and La Riserva,Hendersonville, NC

danna | May 12, 2008 09:07 AM

So...I finally decided to go to Never Blue for Mother's Day brunch...and by Friday morning they were full, but the guy on the phone says "we are saving tables for walk-ins". So I stopped by there on Sat. afternoon, and spoke to the lady whom I believe is the owner. She told me that Sunday would not only be their last Sunday brunch, that they were going to close entirely on Sunday. She said perhaps they would open again later in the summer, but too many recent Sundays she had made a lot of food and had "13-14 people." She, too, suggested i come in a little before 12:30 because they were "saving tables for walk-ins"

So...i drove up there from G'ville, my parents drove up from S'burg, and ....you guessed it...they refused to seat us. (even though there were many open tables) They were turning away lots of potential customers, so I know this must really be frustrating for them after the slow Sundays. It looks like there is going to be outdoor seating when the construction is finished, so I really hope things go well for them and they restart brunch.

We went to La Riserva instead. They were about 1/4 full when we were seated around 12:40, but the restaurant filled up before we left...a LONG time later. The service was terribly, painfully slow. I think there must have been one waiter for the whole place at first, althought during the 2 hours we were there, more waiters appeared. Nonetheless, service was very professional.

The food was not good. I was both disappointed and embarrased to have dragged my parents "up the mountain" to eat an extremely disappointing mother's day/my father's birthday lunch. My bruschetta appetizer (which took maybe 45 minutes to get) was OK, and probably the best part of the meal. My dish, "poached eggs w/ short ribs and fingerling potato 'ragu', apple smoked bacon, toasted artisan bread" (I have just fished a copy of the menu out of my trash can) was ONE egg over chunks of what looked like stew meat over something that looked like potatos au gratin...maybe like you went to Craker Barrell and got your hashbrowns smothered and covered or whatever. A small pile of french fries which were well seasoned and probably tasted good on whatever day they were fried. No bacon was in evidence.

Now, open ordering, i told the waiter that I was considering the dish mainly because of the "artisan bread" and the fact that I noticed an entry on their side dishes for artisan bread with "pistachio, peach, apricot, frangelica preserves". I mentioned I wanted the preserves, and it was OK if he had to charge me. He did indeed charge me the full amount of the side dish, for something I was already supposed to be getting w/ my entree. To make it worse. He brought the over-browned toast to the table w/ my appetizer, so it was nicely stale and hard by the time my entree came...quite a while later. The preserves were strawberry, raspberry, and apricot.

My Mom's "Kobe beef meatball" was a joke. The meatball had been worked to death (rubbery) and according to my Mom, "it has that taste meat gets when it's old." She said the marinara was good. I did not taste my Dad's gnocchi, he did not comment upon it (which only means 1 thing). My husband's rigatoni with fennel sausage was not too bad but very heavy.

A few good things:
The chef sent out small glasses of what I believe was Moscato di Asti. It was good, and a very nice touch. My coffee was served in a small silver carafe so I was able to do my own refil (the first time) and the waiter noticed when i left the top up and brought me another. The stemware looked very nice, too bad I wasn't drinking. They had my favorite kind of after dinner mints at the hostess stand. Prices could have been worse. Lunch for 4 was $83.

I had heard some good reviews, and I realize that a special occaision is not the best time to judge a restaurant. Nevertheless, I'll not be back.

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