Let me precede my review by explaining how it came about that I ended up at a restaurant that is part of a country club out in the middle of nowhere. If you remember the Abyssinia Cafe debacle of a few months ago, you’ll recall that the solution WTTE/IncentRev came up with to solve the problem was to offer me replacement certificates for one of the open offers. So it was either this, or Vonn Jazz Club. I had heard nothing good or bad about either, and price-wise this was a more reasonable option, so we went with this.
Fast forward to now, after months of the certificates languishing in my purse, we decided to head out to the sticks (or in this case, the far east end of New Albany) to use them. The location is really hard to find – it’s in the middle of a subdivision (the golf course, that is), so we drove past it a couple of times because it didn’t have any signage at all, either on the main drag going into the subdivision or in front of the building or road itself. We had to call for directions, as a matter of fact.
Finally we get there, and were able to be seated on the patio. We waited about 15 minutes for our waiter to show up – in the meantime we did a bit of people watching, and were amused at how the people we saw so exemplified the “country club” stereotype. Polite golf claps and laughs that reminded me of Carter Pewterschmidt from Family Guy. Lots of stank thrown in our direction because we weren’t wearing the requisite khaki pants or shorts and a polo top. We started making jokes about the situation as it became obvious what direction this dinner was going – if it weren’t for the fact that we needed to use the gift certificates, we probably would have left.
15 minutes later, our server shows up, all frazzled because he was overwhelmed with the other table he had, and upset that his managers were hanging him out to dry while they languished in their offices. He quickly takes our drink orders (ice water for both, no lemon for me) and our appetizer orders and even though we’ve been sitting there for a while with our menus and already knew what we wanted, said he’d come back for our entree orders after he got drinks for the other table.
Another 30 or so minutes pass by, and the chef comes out with our apps. We ask about the server, and when he was going to take the entree order and bring us our drinks, and the chef ends up taking our order. Our water comes out a couple of minutes later, both with lemon, and the server is all kind of upset with us because we had incorrectly assumed that he was in the weeds with one other table – he had a couple of people at the bar too, and it was too much for just him to handle. He proceeds to go into a diatribe about how someone needs to tell his manager that he needs more help, that he’s been there since 8am without a break, etc. Nice enough guy but I didn’t think it was professional of him to bring up personnel issues with customers. There’s a time and a place for everything, and our food was getting cold…
About the apps – since we had $50 of certificates we needed to use up, we decided to get two “Par 3″ appetizer combos, where you could select 3 apps from a list for $10.99.
For my combo, I went with crab cakes, pretzel nuggets, and cheese wedges. Sadly, I don’t think anything on my platter was made in-house. The pretzel nuggets were straight up Super Pretzel, and the cheese wedges were also cooked from frozen (and, as luck would have it, half of them didn’t have any cheese in them – it was just a fried outer breading). The pseudo-cheese sauce that came with the pretzel nuggets was definitely from a can. The crab cakes (a dish that I usually love), were largely uninspired, and tasted a bit off – kind of like they were freezer burned.
P. fared no better with his choices, the Twisty Bread (think stromboli or calzone), the fried pickles, and the boneless wings. The Twisty Bread was alright if you dipped it into the marinara sauce, but is not something I would order again. The fried pickles were just that – fried pickles. Again, nothing standout about it. The boneless wings were dire – they were supposed to have a garlic herb sauce, but what we got were breaded chicken nuggets tossed in a powder that was still stuck to the breading. All in all, the apps were extremely disappointing. While I would expect this sort of grub in a bar, I would have thought that they would have set the bar a bit higher in a country club. As a matter of fact, we’ve been to bars that have had much better food.
At this point, we were contemplating nominating the place for Kitchen Nightmares. But for better or worse, we were sticking it out. We started to see the amusement in the situation, and figured if nothing else, it would make for an interesting blog entry – we were almost afraid to contemplate what was to come – and let me tell you folks, the restaurant did not disappoint. The rest of our meal was a comedy of errors.
The side salads ($2.49 when added to an entree) were probably the best part of the entire meal. The greens were fresh, as were the toppings, and it was a perfectly nice salad. Again, nothing imaginative, but after the appetizers we got, my expectations weren’t that high anyway.
They brought out a loaf of warmed bread – unfortunately for us, we’re fairly convinced it was a take and bake loaf. After we found this out, it went uneaten. I hate to waste food, but I also hate to waste calories (and carbs!) on something that isn’t even good.
I really should have quit while I was ahead. At this point, almost 1 1/2 hours into our meal, we probably should have cut our losses and gone for something simple. Something that was impossible to screw up. But no…I had to go for something that had a lot of room for error – The Foursome ($15.99) It’s described as blackened or grilled salmon along with shrimp, scallops, and crab over angel hair in a Cajun cream sauce. Silly me, I expected a roux-based sauce that had layers of flavor, maybe finished with cream. What I got instead were 2 horribly overcooked shrimp, 2 eraser sized bay scallops, no crab, and overcooked fish with a sauce that tasted like it consisted of two things – cream and many, many, many tablespoons of blackened seasoning. It was so in your face that I could only make it through one bite before asking for a box.
If mine was bad, P.’s was worse. Even though his was supposed to come with a side (he asked for spaghetti, assuming it too would be topped with the picatta sauce), what he got was this:
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you – that is exactly what it looks like. Just some chicken and sauce. Nothing else. He asked about his side, and was told they assumed he didn’t want one, just the salad. Uh, we really wanted spaghetti, could you bring some out? We were expecting plain spaghetti, and got this:
Because nothing tastes better as a side for Chicken Picatta than spaghetti with marinara, right? Speaking of the picatta – the chicken was dry as sawdust, and the sauce was overly salty because of way too many capers to the point of near inedibility. He tried to make the best of it, and asked for some cheese for his spaghetti figuring it was a better idea not to rock the boat at this point. Out comes the cheese, he sprinkles it on his spaghetti, takes a bite – except, as it turns out, it wasn’t cheese, it was garlic salt. His expression? Priceless.
At this point, I think our server got fed up with us, and his manager comes out with a small container of “better quality shredded cheese”, for spaghetti that had already been adulterated. P. just asked for a box and some fresh, plain spaghetti. No apologies from the manager, just a sullen look and a glare when we suggested he have more staff and better quality control.
They did send on our way with a box of equally dire complimentary chocolate chip cookies (again, which tasted home-baked in the same way that Pillsbury break and bake are) – while I’m sure that they thought that was an adequate apology, truly, I’m seeing as it more as an added insult to our injury.
We had hoped that this meal out would have been a nice celebration of the end of a quarter at school, the sad fact is that it ended up being more of a punishment. I find it amusing that New Albany Links requires their social members to spend at least $60 a month on food and drink here, and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s because it’s the only way they’d survive? If it’s not obvious already, I really don’t recommend Vito’s at the Links – there are much better options in the same price range that don’t require a trip out to the middle of nowhere and leaving your taste buds and expectations at the door.
If you’d like to go: Vito’s at the Links, 7100 New Albany Links Drive, New Albany, OH 43054, 614-939-5914