Thursday, January 17, 2013

Can't see ever Craving this Grill

This week is Winter Bites week here in Windsor. This is a great annual event where a bunch of local restaurants put out special menus and meal deals in an effort to get you to try new things. This awesome event is put on and organized by the great people at Windsor Eats. Tonight we gathered up the family and decided to try somewhere new that is participating in this great event: The Crave Grill (note you can click on this link but it looks like someone forgot to pay their web hosting). It was an interesting experience.

I was totally thrown off by the location of the Crave Grill, I've driven past the location many many times and totally missed it. It's part of the complex on Ottawa that has Topps of Windsor and the Komedy Korner. After finding the place we parked in back (free after 6pm) and went in. Great looking place with a really nice atmosphere. Fairly formal without being pretentious.

We were seated quickly. The place was far from busy but wasn't empty. We had called ahead to make sure the place was okay for kids and we verified that they had booster seats. Here's where we had our first sign of things to come, though we didn't know it was a sign at the time. After asking for a booster the waitress brought back a highchair. I guess people who don't have kids don't know there's a difference? I'm pretty sure I knew the difference before we had our kids, but whatever. So I correct her and ask again for a booster. They don't have boosters, this is what we have. We note we called and asked, and she said yes we have this (points to the high chair). Okay whatever, fine, I'll sit my 2.9 year old in a chair since she's far too big for the highchair.

We get menus and all that fun stuff. She points out that they have a special menu for Winter Bites. I comment that "this is the reason we are here." We look over the standard menu. Everything looks great. Nice selection of items. A mix of steak house, pasta house and unique Mediterranean items. One thing I always look for is good beer and I was impressed, there wasn't a lot of selection but it included a good mix of beers for eating. One each of lager, porter, stout, black ale, brown ale, oh and the usual crap domestic stuff. Though they need an editor (I ordered Miller Street Coffee Porter). The adults all decide go for the Winter Bites Menu which is a three course meal for $25, we order a kids pasta for the little ones to split. Specifically I ordered Tomato Soup for a first course. Chevaps for a Second Course and Apple Crumble Cheesecake for the Third. Actually looking at the menu now in another window I realize we ordered at least one of everything on the special menu.

Our waitress takes our drink order. More than 5 minutes later she comes back to point out that the juice we ordered for the kids is out of stock. More than 10 minutes later we get our drinks, for whatever reason she doesn't take our order now and wanders away. I have no clue why. We have to point out to the kids, who are getting antsy that it's going to be a while as we haven't even ordered yet. We eventually order. 20 minutes after ordering the waitress returns realizing she forgot to ask which sides we want. One thing that has to be noted here as it matters later. My wife and I ordered all three courses, the app, the main and the desert for our Winter Bites meal, my parents only ordered their app and main.

40 minutes in we still haven't received our first course, the appetizers. Soups, salads and bruschetta, not hard to make. Note there are only about five other tables of people here and four of them already have their meals. I don't get this. Also my wife ordered coffee and has not had a single offer of a refill. At this point we are getting rather frustrated. The kids are thankfully being rather good about all of this.

10 minutes later, 50 minutes in total we get our apps. Waitress can't remember who ordered what and we give up trying to explain and just each take a plate and pass it to whoever it belongs to. The apps were pretty good. I was particularly impressed by the bruschetta as it's not a dish I usually enjoy. I'm not big on tomato or onion and this particular version had goat cheese. Getting near the bottom of her salad, my wife notes that it has no candied nuts. This was one of the main selling points of this salad and they weren't even there. My soup didn't come with crackers which was disappointing to me. At this point I'm not sure if the serve soup without them or if they made yet another mistake.

When the first round of apps came I ordered another beer, when the second round came my dad also ordered a re-fill. I got my beer, my dad did not. Every time we saw the waitress we asked about my dad's beer. We did this 3 times. 20 minutes later she stopped back and cleared some of the app. plates and asked my dad if he wanted another beer. Wait, what?!? 

At this point we are all getting frustrated. The kids are getting antsy. we are getting sick of mistakes, lack of communication, ridiculous delays etc. 65 minutes in, she starts bringing the entres. We ask where my dad's beer is and she says: "Oh sorry we are out of that beer. We even checked the basement" - wow, okay then, you weren't going to tell us? What the heck? We order my dad a different beer. This beer finally shows up, she bangs the bottle (no draft here) on the table hard enough it foams up and pours out the top a bit. She fails to notice.

Crappy iPod pic of my main. I still don't see any pita.
Right in there somewhere the food showed up. It was all delivered to the wrong person again. I realize this is a minor thing but with everything else it's yet another straw.

Things start looking up: the main courses are really good. This is the best Chevaps I've ever had. Veggies are great and well seasoned  A really nice touch is that each veg is treated differently. The carrot is al-dente and mapled. The zucchini is soft and in a red sauce. The potatoes are roasted and lightly herbed and rather good. I tried my wife's rice (the other starch option) and it was nice, loose and flavorful. My main came with their own house cream cheese, this stuff is awesome and goes great with the spicy Chevaps.

I'm near done my meal when my wife points out: "didn't that say it came with Pita" - hey that's right! what's the buttered loaf I have? Pita would have fit much better. Yet another mistake, that I wouldn't mind so much if they were transparent about it. We've been here far too long, we've had a bunch of issues but that main was so good it's almost made up for it. At this point I'm thinking maybe go back, without the kids due to the length of time everything took, but maybe give them another shot. Then we get to the 3rd course: the dessert.

We've now been here an hour and fourty-four minutes. They confirm we want our dessert. We say yes and the waitress goes away. It's at this point that my parents point out they didn't order dessert yet (remember, I mentioned this up above). So we wave the waitress down and point this out. She says, "oh! okay! So you all want dessert?" We agree and my parents try to order. Now remember we are here for Winter Bites, we told her this when we got here. The Winter Bites menu only has two dessert options on it, Creme Brulee or Apple Crumble Cheesecake. My mom tells her they both want the Apple Cheesecake. "Oh I'm so sorry we are all out." Wait what?!? You tell us this now? Your set menu item for the special menu we are here to enjoy is out of stock and you failed to tell us over the last hour and forty five minutes? The waitress offers my mom Pyramid cake (some lady finger thing) she gives up and agrees to this. It comes out, four of them, one for each of us. My wife asks first: "but where is my Creme Brulee?"  "Oh we are out of that too. I don't know why but everyone was having those two items today" No shit! Those are the two items on your special menu!

We've given up at this point. We finish the sub par cake like dessert. They apologize for the lack of dessert. Note: just the dessert issue, what about all the other issues? We pay. We leave. I pretty much vow never to go back. I'm so frustrated by the experience I feel I need to share. So I made this blog. 


  1. Sounds like they have some decent cooks on staff, but that the Executive Chef needs to figure out how to order/prep the correct amount of items. (Be it beer or food) and that the Wait staff needs some serious re-training. Whoever was running the front of the house needs a swift kick to the backside and your personal waitress needs to be fired. I'll never go there..(Mainly because I don't live anywhere near it...heh..) and I agree with not going any more...that's too many issues to warrant a second hopeful trip. Maybe in the future if they advertise different management...

  2. Personally, I've had several bad experiences at restaurants but have always went back to give them another chance. So far all have redeemed themselves. For example, Gilligan's has always been great and I hadn't been since the new owners took over but one day the burger I ordered was cold and tasted horrible. I did go back a few times since and those were all good experiences.

    There is one place in Tecumseh that I won't say the name of because I am still wondering if I should share my horrible experience. But the experience was atrocious! We were served soured cheese in our french onion soup and on our burger. At first we thought the odd taste was just some special spice or way they prepared their food. Especially since the place was so hyped up about there special food and recipes. My wife couldn't stand the first bite of her burger. I took a taste, then a second to make sure I was tasting something bad. I suspected the cheese and took a piece of that and sure enough I almost gagged and puked. We told the waitress and asked for the manager (executive chef). She came back telling us he wouldn't come to our table and that he just opened the cheese that day. So I said I am not trying to cause trouble but can you please tell him to try the cheese himself and to come talk to us. Well she came back saying he still wont come but will give you $5 off of your burger. Say What? Our poor waitress was awesome and was the best part of our fist time experience at this restaurant. After going home and thinking about it all I became upset. So I wrote a thoughtful constructive criticism facebook message to the executive chef who ran the show. Can you believe he didn't even respond or acknowledge the message?

    Now I run Eyes on Windsor so I am very careful about bad mouthing restaurants but if they truly are horrible its my duty to let my follower know. More importantly, I always give restaurants a chance to make up for things by going a second time. But I am finding myself to even give this place a second chance.

    Hopefully, Crave will see your post and at the very least acknowledge your experience and offer an explanation or to make up for it. In all honesty the owner seems like a nice guy to me. I've never met him but have interacted with him online before.

    Looking forward to your future blog posts.

  3. Thank you very much for the kind words about WindsorEats and our events. I'm sorry to hear that your experience at one of our participating Winter Bites restaurants was such a bad experience. I will pass this post along to the owner to inform him. If you can, contact me at to provide me some of your contact information that I can give to the owner to contact you directly.

    Adriano Ciotoli