Oh my gosh, a train wreck of an experience was had last night for dinner, a Friday night, in Walnut Creek as reviewed in the March 23rd East Bay Express.
Service was absolutely chaotic and horrible, though the one waitress (owner maybe?) was totally overwhelmed, even though the cook (at least I believe she was, as it was a two employeee establishment) tried to wait tables too. Heard she was new. Having about ten tables and one waitress, the article overwhelmed them that night. Two hours for dinner was fine in a fancy and large place, but this was neither. Mainly a bakery, the kitchen must be miniscule, as it seemed they could only cook one piece of chicken at a time. At one point the call went out for reinforcements in shape of a friend/helper, as a gal showed up with a bag of groceries in arms, wondering how she could help.
We requested the regular chicken dinner (3 pieces) but an hour later (really) two plates came out with two pieces on it each. Promises of the other one piece for each plate to come out soon, were not forthcoming till about 15 minutes later. Believe me when I tell you they could not get it together.
Request by patrons for water, menu, or tartar sauce for the fried catfish, all took about 15 minutes apiece. Watching the other patrons make these requests, and seeing how things progressed was very amusing to my party of three. Knowing a train wreck was in progress, seeing other just arriving patrons walk into this small restaurant was met by guilt. It seemed like we should have just stood up on the table to make a public service announcement to save the world from starvation due to horrible service.
The newspaper review said their fried chicken was better than Casa Orinda. It pulled people in from far places to try their chicken based on that article. But the chicken we had was VERY salty, though good otherwise.
The article states that the jambalaya was not so great by the reviewers opinion, but I though it was very good. Very flavorful, as well as the side of gumbo I had. Interesting combo.
Also, their yams, cooked with coconut flavor and cinnamon was excellent.
The management was having such a bad night that they announced that their homemade pie was on the house for everyone for dessert. The lemon chess pie as well as the sweet potato pie were very good. They should probably stick to doing bakery items.
After trying to pay the bill for twenty minutes (really) which included time standing at the counter just trying to get their attention, the bill was paid. I have no idea how they charged us, but the bill was lower than it should be, as drinks were taken off the bill, and dessert was free, and somehow the bill was negotiated. We did not question her tactics, and didn't care at that point. We were glad to just get out the door after two hours. We ate, paid less than we should, had a fascinating night watching how others "suffered" through a "Saturday Night Live" routine of how NOT to run a restaurant, and walked out knowing we, as well as others, if not all, would never go back. Not that the waitress didn't try to do well, but she was clearly beyond her capacity. We felt sorry for her, as did every patron. It was amazing no one walked out or started a riot. Amazing what a review of good food will do to people's patience level who want to really like a place.
I wish the restaurant luck, as they tried hard, but I will not be back. Ever.
For your info, the restaurant is located outside the gates of Rossmore on Tice Valley Blvd. in Walnut Creek
Southern Oven Baking Company
1830 Tice Valley Blvd.
Amazing experience that we will be laughing about for years to come.