Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I sent this review to my good friend ec in April. It was my birthday, the first time we'd visited peak city, and I was 3 weeks into a prolonged, extended move. So, here's my initial reaction to Peak City Grill(http://www.thepeakcitygrill.com/) in Apex:
When you enter peak city grill, you are greeted by the standard college coed in black-on-black ensemble. Cheery smiles with a hint of intelligent sarcasm give a glimmer of the meal to come. Ella or Frank is blaring, but somehow you can still carry on lively conversation with your immediate table. Maybe the high ceilings or the brick walls contribute but the room is busy, lively-but you cannot hear the table next to you.
There are long, red painted benches instead of upholstered booths. There is gleaming white china with full 5 course silver laid out perfectly on black tablecloths. The service is prompt, knowledgeable, and welcoming. The food-well- the food is almost perfect.
For starters, we had confetti bruschetta. Slivers of toast slathered with goat cheese. Red and yellow grape tomatoes, onions, and garlic heaped on top with balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top.
K. got a salad with arugula, strawberries, pralines, goat cheese and a strawberry cream vinaigrette. It tasted like the perfection that only strawberries in season can be.
For entrees there was a pork loin wrapped in bacon atop a polenta cake with lobster and guyere. The outside was crisp, the center creamy. Served like a sandwich-wilted spinach smushed between a crisp polenta cake and a slab of pork. There was also a sirloin with a portabella rub and a tomato basil sauce for dipping.
For the toddler, there was a creamy orichetti with a crunchy bread crumb top.
And the wine! There is a whole page of wines by the glass-for red wines. And another for white. Your glass is not small either. You will be toast if you drink more than 2 of Peak City's glasses of wine.
I gave it 3.5 stars. I recommended it to friends. I sang with glee about the local talent in my new home town.
I have to eat my words. I was wrong. It was an anomaly. We have since been back to this restaurant 7 times. Each time there is a item we eat that shows promise and keeps the hope alive that one day I can resume my love affair with this restaurant. But each time we visit, my well of enthusiasm decreases. Forgive my fatalism, but after last week's visit, I've reached an all time low.
What could have happened? I'll tell you. In detail-at least until I'm too sad about it to go on and must resort to eating ice cream in my pajamas on the couch.
The wait staff is less concerned with serving and more focused on fraternizing-with each other. While the wine list is still extensive and generous, you have no idea whether you actually got the wine you ordered because the wait staff forgets as soon as they place the order at the bar. There are times when there aren't enough waiters to serve you effectively. There are also times when the hostesses take 5 minutes to decide where, exactly to seat you-in an empty restaurant. Management issues and training glitches are not insurmountable obstacles. It's possible even that my experiences are flukes or a temporary (yet prolonged) strike of experienced staff. Some nights, the wait staff gathers in the bar and snuggles while they wait on orders to come up. Another night, they talk loudly about where to go 'party' after work. At any rate, poor service is easily rectified if by better management.
So let's move on to the food.
Every time we go to Peak City (excepting the first) half our menu selections have been under-performers. Now, you could say-"You pessimist! Half your food was fabulous!" And you'd be right. That's why I keep going back. I can honestly say I've had the strawberry arugula salad at it's Peak-and I've had the cardboard version. I've had the confetti bruschetta sing in my mouth-and last week, I had stale bread slathered with goat cheese and tomatoes with brown seeds. I would have returned it to the kitchen but my waitress only came back to my table once-with the check. My overall point is, when we eat at this restaurant, we have to order double the amount of food we really want because half of it will not live up to it's potential.
I know, I know-how will they improve if I don't complain. I'm not sure they care to. Peak City has the capability to be great-but they seem to be content with being underachievers. I reduce my rating to 2 stars with a heavy warning to expect that you will be dining at a chain restaurant-not a local bistro. Who knows! You may be surprised!