Friday, October 12, 2007

Still Playing With the Ropes

As I continue to "learn the ropes" of the Blogspot software and how to best post photos here, I'm going to link our most recent dinner adventures to posts I will make on EGullet.

However, I'm going to talk about yesterday's lunch here. There has been a lot of discussion on the Cleveland Food Forums lately about Bubba's Q in Avon Lake Ohio. Last year, I joined a large group for dinner at Bubba's, and we experienced some service problems that caused our food to be served very late and very cold and tough. But the complex flavors underneath the ruined food tantalized, and owner Al "Bubba" Baker was so kind and personable (and he comped the entire table's check) that I was determined to get back eventually and try this Q again.

As is happened, I had a business meeting in Avon Lake yesterday afternoon that ran late. I drove into Wendy's parking lot for a brief moment, then realized I'd be passing right by Bubba's Q on the way back to the highway, and decided this was as good a time as any to see what was going on there.

I walked in around 3:15pm, and one other person was dining in the dining room. After waiting at the hostess stand and not being noticed after several minutes, I detoured to the ladies room. I then resumed my post, but was still not recognized. I waited another minute or two, then poked my head into the open business office behind me and asked if they were serving. A very nice person immediately jumped up, told me to sit anywhere, and got the server.

Now, I realize that this was a very odd time for service. Moreover, I could see some of the kitchen help scurrying about behind the partition, obviously prepping for the dinner service that would start in another hour or more. Still, the fact they were open for service, but not one person was paying attention to the dining room, was a telling beginning.

My server was extremely friendly - almost too friendly - but I'll get to that in a moment. The room was extremely clean and presentable. I ordered ice tea - half plain, half sweet, and my server immediately obliged. I then ordered the "Sliders" plate - two small sandwiches with my choice of BBQ meat (I chose pulled pork and pulled chicken) and my choice of two sides (I chose the house-made cole slaw and mac 'n cheese). And then, I waited. And waited. The other diner had left right before I gave my order to the server, so I was the only game in town. And I waited. Heard a big "crash" in the kitchen. And waited.

After about twenty minutes (or maybe more - I wasn't counting!), I received this plate:

Both the server and the nice lady from the office hovered around, a little intrigued by my camera (I think) and wanted to know what I thought. I didn't have the heart to tell them the honest truth because they were so enthusiastic about the product. So enthusiastic, in fact, that I felt a little bit intruded upon when they didn't stop! After a few minutes of cheerleading for the food (which did look very good at first blush), they left me to photograph and eat.

First - the sliders. The rolls were stale and crumbly, and the fillings warm and not hot. The pork had no flavor at all and it was dry. The chicken had a little flavor and lovely smoke, but it was also kind of dry - both meats tasted old. Sorry - neither meat photographed very well.

BBQ Pork

BBQ Chicken

As happened the last time I visited Bubba Q's, the sides were the best part of the meal. They've toned down the celery seed in the Cole Slaw (which I thought overwhelmed it the last time I had it), and it is truly fresh and delicious:
The mac and cheese was very good, but not special:

Finally, I asked if the tea, which I'd really enjoyed, was made there, and the server said it was a tap product. Too bad. The extra BBQ sauce in the side cup was very salty, and didn't really add anything except a little moisture to the meat.

I can't believe that they served me rolls in that condition - hard and crumbling - they simply weren't edible. And, after I'd finished eating, I waited some more for final service. After several minutes of staring at my plate and waiting, I flagged down another server, who, lucky for me, popped out of the back for an unrelated errand. I asked her to send my server out so I could get the bill. I was finally able to pay my check and leave well after 4pm - the meal had taken nearly an hour.

I was disappointed to experience this confirmation that at least some of the negative rumblings I've been hearing about Bubba Q's are true. I really hope that they get it together because I've experienced Al Baker's passion for what he (and his family, many of whom also work in the business) are trying to accomplish, and I know that when they are "on", they are awesome. I'm not giving up on them yet, but I do need to call things the way I see 'em. Especially where playing with my food is involved!

1 comment:

  1. Hay!

    Just found your blog! Congrats!

    Sorry to hear tht Bubba's Q wasn't too good. I'm always looking for lunch possibilities out here in Avon Lake that don't involve fast-food.

    I have a blog, too:

    Let me know what you think!

    Keep up the good work and pix!