Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rustic Cafe - North Phoenix

Tara didn't finish her bacon.

That should be a clue about how much we enjoyed our first visit to Rustic Cafe, a new restaurant just north of the 101 on Cave Creek Road. A friend let us know about a 90% off sale at Restaurant.Com and I noticed that Rustic Cafe was on there, so I grabbed one so we could give them a try.

Mistake. Big mistake.

It's actually a cute little spot, with around 20 tables or so. Service was very friendly and helpful. The menu is quite extensive. In addition to typical breakfast and lunch items, they also have Lebanese, Italian, and Mexican sections on the menu.

Since we had to order at least $20 to get $10 off, we ordered quite a bit. Tara got biscuits and gravy and a double order of bacon. I ordered corned beef hash, sausage, and a cinnamon roll for us to split. We each got a Coke. Shortly after ordering, our waitress came back and said someone had ordered five cinnamon rolls earlier and they were out. We ended up getting a chocolate muffin instead.

The chocolate muffin seemed pre-fab, like they'd run across the street to the nearby Costco's pastry section. It was exceedingly generic.

Tara's biscuits and gravy was a large serving that looked like it had waited a few minutes before it was brought out. The gravy had already cooled enough to have a skin over it. It had large chunks of sausage in the gravy which Tara liked. The gravy lacked any real flavor, however. Even after liberal seasoning with salt and pepper, it was still very bland. Her double side of bacon was a generous amount, but again, it was flavorless. She didn't finish it and this is a person who plots to steal any leftover bacon she sees restaurants, regardless of whose table it is on.

My "hash" wasn't. I've had corned beef hash all over the country. Generally it's actual hash: corned beef and vegetables that have been run through a meat grinder or chopped up finely and mixed together. Rustic Cafe's "hash" was slices of thin, fatty, and rubbery corned beef, slices of pepper, and slices of onion on top of horrendous home fried potatoes. I even asked the waitress to verify that this was the corned beef hash that I'd ordered. She said it was. It was awful. The potatoes ranged from over-cooked potato chip-like slices to pieces I couldn't get my fork through but still tasted slightly raw. There was no consistency. The corned beef was chewy to the point if being inedible. I eventually just gave up. The two eggs I'd asked for over-medium were just not good. And nothing had any flavor. I'd smelled a t0-go order of the hash as it went by me and it smelled great. The dish I got? It completely lacked any seasoning. The toasted english muffin on the side wasn't bad. The sausage? It had the uniform size and unnaturally smooth edges like it came directly out of a Jimmy Dean package. It also has no flavor and a slightly odd texture.

So yeah, we were thoroughly unimpressed with the food. Which is a shame, as we love Mom and Pop local joints, especially ones this close to home. Tara said that the sandwiches we saw other diners eating all looked really good, and said maybe she'd try those sometime.

That is, until both our stomachs started to feel queasy within 10 minutes of us leaving the restaurant. Mine was unsettled for the rest of the afternoon and Tara's is still not quite kosher. She said she felt like she was going to throw up all afternoon. I wasn't that bad, but I definitely was under the weather.

We still have another $10 gift coupon, due to a snafu when I was ordering them. Luckily it was only $.40.

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