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Robert's in Garwood Review

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Robert's in Garwood Review

sivyaleah | Oct 28, 2005 09:45 AM

Having heard many good reviews of this local steakhouse, my husband and I decided to finally take advantage because they'd sent us a 20% off flyer good until last night, which we'd nearly forgotten we had in the house.

We wish we had forgotten.

I was under the impression that this was going to be a somewhat more upscale dining experience based on the reviews I've read. We walked in through the back door and noticed a large bar, and were instantly hit in the face with the smell of cigarette smoke. Not a good first impression.

A waiter asked us if we wanted smoking or non-smoking and we requested non-smoking as far from the bar as possible. We saw a back room which looked promising but for some reason were shown to the "main" dining area - which is about 5-10' away from the bar depending on where you sit.

Another waiter came by with the menus and asked us if we'd like a drink with dinner. I scanned the cocktail list (interesting) but wasn't in the mood so then began reading the wine choices. Not appealing at all and not many to chose from so we both opted to skip on that.

The waiter, who seemed somewhat nervous, came over way to fast, to ask if we were ready to order. We said no, we needed time. But, he gave us no time to speak of - seemed to be trying to rush us to order in fact.

By this time I was having trouble breathing (allergic asthma). I mentioned that the room was very heavy with smoke, and was the ventilation in the room working? If not, could we be moved to the back room? He said the back room was only open at the manager's whim (my words, not his) and that he'd go ask him.

In the interim, I ordered the grilled ceasar salad as my appetizer and my husband ordered the house salad (wedge of iceberg, etc).

The main menu choices were rather few. We both decided to get steak, filet mignons, since we'd come specifically to try it. Sides was stated as being potatos au gratin and mixed vegetables. We later saw people eating baked potatos -we had not been told we could have this as an option. They did have a la carte sides (creamed spinach, frizzled onions and sauteed mushrooms) but we figured that the potatos and veggie sides would be enough (they weren't, see below).

When the salads came out - I remarked how the waiter had never come back to let us know if we could move out table or not. I felt as if he'd forgotten or not even tried to see if we could be moved.

The ceasar salad came out and was awful. They had grilled an entire stalk of romaine, and it appeared that they hadn't taken off the outer leaves, which are usually kind of worn looking. The plate was too small to contain such a long piece of lettuce and it was difficult to manuever to cut through it, let alone it was falling of the plate. I wondered how they could clean the lettuce properly this way? The ceasar dressing had NO flavor at all. Zero. Where were the typical ceasar flavors? The garlic? The parmesean? The anchovy? Certainly they had been misplaced in this dish. The dressing only tasted of oil - and not even olive oil at that. Also, there were two very evenly cut slabs of parmesean cheese just thrown on top, as if cut off the slicer in Shop-Rite and of not very good quality. The garlic bread which accompanied it was also nearly tasteless - speaking more of oil (margerine?) and the bread was lifeless.

The waiter came over to see if we were enjoying our salads. I told him mine was terrible - there was just no way I could cover this up with niceties. He apologized and asked if I wanted a different salad. I said no, I'd tasted my husbands and frankly, the dressing on his was no better. So, he took it away and it was taken off the bill.

Side note: as we sent back my salad we overheard a couple next to us sending back their steak. We also heard the waiter say, when he arrived with a new one "apologies from the chef".

On a good note - and to the waiter's credit - apparently my complaint about the smoke did register - because I realized I was breathing better. We could hear the churning of the air system - I guess they had it shut off because it was sort of chilly last night.

The steaks arrived. The steaks themselves were of good quality, cooked exactly as we had requested but had no real flavor to speak of. Mine had a large amount of unpleasant fat at the end of one side, so I was unable to finish it, although my husband's was trimmed much better. The au gratin potatoes were luke-warm, and not generously portioned and tasted like they came out of a Betty Crocker box. The vegetables were flavorless and some of them raw, and again, very little of it, maybe a couple of tablespoons worth at most.

Usually you hear people complain about things being overspiced and oversalted - in this place - you should be begging the chef to find the salt shaker. Everything was bland, nothing stood out. It all tasted like anything you could have cooked at home if you had no cooking skills to speak of.

We took a look at the desert menu but decided not to waste our money further, as we just knew we'd be disappointed.

On the way out, we again overheard another waiter apologizing to yet another table. Apologies were rampant this evening apparently.

This restaurant was very disappointing and I can't understand how they are still in business. I assume the bar returns a brisk amount of money to them. I guess, if you aren't expecting too much, want a decent steak in a casual, local atmosphere and can overlook the small menu and minute portions of side dishes and don't mind bland food, this might be the place for you - but it wasn't for us.

We will not be going back.

Laurie

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