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Restaurants & Bars 16

T-Rex: Why Dinosaurs are Extinct (long)

amyd | Nov 10, 2005 10:58 AM

Must be because they ran a restaurant like this. I admit that the early Chowhound reports prepared me for some inconsistencies and issues, but none like my husband and I encountered last night. Basically, nothing seems to work at T-Rex. We each decided to order a barbecue plate (smoked brisket for him, pulled pork for me). One side was designated on the menu (potato salad with the brisket, cole slaw with the pork), and the other is your choice (long-cooked greens for him, roasted baby turnips for me). We also ordered a side of cornbread to round things out, even though we knew it was a rip off ($5). We each ordered a drink as well, and these came promptly enough. We were seated upstairs, by the way, and those who commented about the awkwardness of the room are correct: It's an attractive, modern, open space but in no way relates to a barbecue menu. It's also too brightly lit and filled with cocktail-style tables that are mostly too small for dinner plates. And having two levels makes serving that much harder.

While we waited for our meal, we observed the host (the guy who also has worked at Fonda and Lalimes) apologizing profusely to the two women at a nearby table and overheard him saying that of course they wouldn't be charged for whatever the problem item was. We also observed the people at a table on our other side receive a Caesar salad without the promised marinated Spanish anchovies. Some time after that, my pulled pork plate and the cornbread arrived. The person who delivered it (not our original server) said the brisket was coming right up. We tasted my pork: Barely warm, tender but not flavorful. The slaw was fine, the pickles quite good, the turnips again not warm enough but tasty. The appearance of it all was not what I expected: Three modest mounds on a large oval plate. The cornbread was simply weird: Two squares of room-temperature cornbread with a slightly greasy, shiny brown top--sort of a cornbread brulee. Meanwhile, no brisket in sight. We observed a second mix-up at the table with the anchovy-less salad: Their two plates arrived at the same time, but one did not contain exactly what had been ordered. The server stood there, puzzled, until figuring out that the whole order was meant for another table. The people at this table had also been observing our experience and were reluctant to give up food once they had it (they told us so). Fortunately for them, more plates arrived (they'd ordered after we had). My husband and I began to time the brisket delay--a final tally of 25 minutes. In the meantime, I had to eat my meal (it wasn't hot even at the start), and he had a few bites. Along the way, we had asked our server about the brisket's status, and she claimed a mix up, that the meal was now being cooked. That was about 10 minutes into the wait. We asked again a few minutes later and she responded by asking my husband whether he still wanted his food. We said yes because he hadn't had any dinner and that our experience was not remotely acceptable. At the 25 minute mark, we caught the attention of the host who we'd seen remedying the earlier table's problem. He apologized, joking that we'd probably assumed we were going out to dinner together, and said that we wouldn't be charged for our drinks or the brisket. As for the brisket, it was merely okay--slightly smoky, mediocre sauce. The greens were clearly not long-cooked, and the potato salad had a lot of mayonnaise (obviously a change from the bacon dressing noted in an earlier report). We continued to see wait staff wander around looking confused and heard an occasional crash (two) downstairs. We declined dessert and coffee, and then a server we hadn't encountered before brought over forks. We told her we hadn't ordered dessert, she looked confused, left, and came back saying we were being given a dessert. Meanwhile, the check also arrived (sans drinks and brisket and even the cornbread charge). After a bit, dessert came, too: apple crisp. Hot plate, cool crisp. Not very crisp, either, with bland apples and a bit of whipped cream on top. I had two bites, and my husband ate the rest. Conclusion: Confusion in the kitchen, confusion on the floor, poor value for the price, mediocre food. As someone else has said, the Lalimes group appears overextended; I've been happy with Fonda of late and Sea Salt was okay, but a recent meal at Lalimes itself seemed sloppy in terms of food conception, preparation, and presentation. Sorry to be so long, but I hope this report is helpful. The mess that is T-Rex cannot be understated.

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