I was going to hold off on this and wait for someone else to report in but I thought that may not be in the true spirit of this board. First of all, I want this place to make it and I will go back even though my first impression advises me otherwise. Second of all, let's remember it has been open for less than a week.
Two of us went to Sam's last Friday night (my wife and I, but I'm not sure what chowhounder abbreviations fit that!) - day 3 of the restaurant. I expected it to be rough but I was overanxious to try it out. Physically, the best impression comes from the parking lot. They spent some real money on landscaping. The inside of the restaurant suffers from a lack of any decorating imagination. I want to assume that all the decorating touches just haven't been received yet.
We sat on the bar side at the high top tables. The bar itself was full. This is a completely separate room and seemed slightly more inviting than the restaurant side. The menu is hopefully a work in progress since it was a couple of xerox pages. The first thing you will notice is that there are not a lot of reasonable choices if you are planning on dinner. There were only two sandwich choices, cheeseburger and lobster roll. After those two, you quickly move up to a $32 steak or even more expensive pork and lamb. Maybe I'm reading the crowd wrong, but I'm not looking for a $32 steak in Reading.
We decided to split a few things; the antipasto, a cheeseburger and a side of risotto. This was more like it to me. The $12 antipasto was excellent. Prosciutto, sopressata, salami, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts and provolone. I spent a year in Buenos Aires and I'm always looking for a mixed plate of goodies like they always serve you there immediately after you sit down. This was a good assortment of tastes and worth coming back for.
I wish I could say that was the end of the meal and stay positive. However - I have to report that it was a 30 minute wait for the antipasto. It was another 45 minutes after that for the arrival of the cheeseburger. Since we were splitting, we had to compromise. I like my cheeseburger medium rare to rare and my wife likes it medium. We compromised - medium!
As ti turned out, our preference didn't matter as it came out well done. Inedible to me but my wife had some of it.
We were well after an hour and a half into it when I got our server back to the table. Let me digress even further by pointing out that our server was a very sincere young guy who was obviously new to the business. That is just fine with me. I'll take sincerity and effort over pretentiousness any day. He asked how everything was and I was honest. Very nice antipasto, lousy burger, and by the way, have you seen the risotto we ordered? He replied that he noticed the risotto didn't come out so he took the liberty of removing it from the bill. A mention of this to us a little earlier would have been nice.
He also did the right thing by taking the cheesburger off the bill when I didn't ask him for that consideration. I appreciated that and tipped him for what would have been the original total with everything. He was trying and he can't make things come out of the kitchen faster or correctly cooked.
Bottom line - If this was an established restaurant, they would never see me again. I consider this first visit as part of the shakedown cruise and I'll give it some time but I'll return.