Monday, August 16, 2010

RIBEYES STEAKHOUSE -- AN ALMOST GOOD RESTAURANT

Ribeyes Steakhouse, on Pollock Street in downtown New Bern, is well positioned to be a standout eating place.  I wasn't really excited about going here because it sounded to me like one step up from a Ryan's Family Restaurant, but when my hubby sees "steak" in the title name, he wants to go.  So I went, trying to keep an open mind.

First off, we decided, at the last minute, to go on a Friday evening and got there about 6:30.  And the rest of New Bern, it seemed, decided to join us.  The lines were long, the restaurant was completely packed, but, surprisingly, the wait was only 20 minutes.  There is an upstairs and downstairs, and all tables were filled, so I was impressed that the wait was so short, and it certainly is an indication that management has an efficient delivery system in place here.

The menu, which never changes, is conveniently posted on either side of the entrance door.  The lunch menu is on the left, the dinner menu is on the right.  While I don't care for menus that never change and therefore don't take advantage of fresh local produce, I love restaurant menus posted outside the building.  The steaks served are Omaha, which are from grain-fed cows, not my fave beef, but at least the meat is aged for flavor and tenderness.  You can opt for salmon or chicken if you don't want fish, or the salad bar with or without baked white or sweet potato.  The menu is also conveniently posted online at their website.
The inside of the restaurant is beautifully done.  A high staircase takes you upstairs to the next level, and the main dining room downstairs has ceilings that go all the way up to the top of the 2nd floor, creating a spacious feeling.  The acoustics, however, are terrible.  With a big crowd, you can hardly hear yourself think.  Strike 1.
The main dining room (pictured below) is also a thoroughfare.  Anyone going to or from the kitchen, salad bar or drinking bar comes through this open corridor and right past your table.  Between the loud noise of everyone talking and the commotion of everyone passing by the table, it was not a very relaxed atmosphere.  Strike 2.
Here's the view from the salad bar to the main dining room:

We waited for our table in the bar where we could sit and chat.  Too bad they didn't put the main dining room in here and vice versa.  It's a little quieter, and not as much movement in and out.


Our table was right by the open corridor near the constant back and forth movement of the patrons and servers.

On an up note, the salad bar is one of the nicest I've experienced, especially since the ingredients are super-fresh, and the greens are not oversprayed with preservatives.  Chopped hard-boiled egg, bacon, ham and all the usual suspects are there.  Cookie-cutter salad dressings, but it's easy to forgive that with all the other good stuff.


After the server took our orders, we went up to get our salads.  The only complaint we had was there was no bread.  The steak comes with Texas toast, but the salad does not.  Baskets of crackers above the salad bar are the only option for salad eaters.  Of course, you could hold on to your salad until the steak arrives.  The salad bar is so complete, it's easy to make a meal out of it, which is what JoAnn did.  She doesn't like steak.
Guy loaded up but also got an 8 oz. rib eye.
This was my salad, and it was delicious with bacon, egg and ranch dressing.
Finally, our steaks arrived.  We were all shocked.  They were advertised as "thick-cut" steaks.  In actuality, they were 1/2" thick.  To me, that's sandwich steak size.  The flavor was great and the sweet potato, baked potato and Texas toast were all wonderful, but we wanted a thick steak, not a sandwich steak.  Strike 3.  We all decided we weren't coming back.

But then, I thought, it's only right to talk this over with management.  So I went back a week later, when the lunch shift was over, to talk to Manager Rick Ward.  He was very receptive to my suggestion of putting in a knee-wall to separate the main corridor from the dining area.  He also said he would be meeting with engineers this week to find a solution to the acoustics problem.  And, finally, he said the cook last week was from another restaurant and he cut the steaks the wrong thickness.  Rick insists the restaurant will be serving 1-1/2" steaks.  We all decided we will give Ribeyes another shot, because if the changes are made, this restaurant will be great. The quality of the food and the prices are spot on.  Yes we'll try it again, after we check out Persimmons and Boston at the Bend of course.

As we went to get our car, we saw the New Bern carriage ride -- so pretty -- it looks like a pumpkin for Cinderella.

A nice ending for a not-so-great dinner out.

RIBEYES UPDATE:  The following week, we went back to Ribeyes for another steak dinner.  The same special was still posted:  16-oz. thick-cut ribeye steak for two, $34.99.  True to the manager's word, our steaks came 1-1/2" thick.  But they were too charred to enjoy.  The bitterness of  the charring ruined the good flavor of the meat.  We ended up cutting off the tops and bottoms of our steaks, leaving a much smaller piece to eat.  On an upnote, I requested Texas toast with my salad, and the server brought me a piece when I returned from the salad bar.   We've decided, however, we will not be returning for dinners here.

Gluttons for punishment we are.  We tried lunch the following week, thinking surely a 1/2" steak on a sandwich would be great.  What we got was a steak cut even thinner, possibly 1/4", overcooked and dry.  The server  told me when I ordered that it would probably be well done, because it was too thin to cook rare, and he was right.  On an upnote, I didn't want the baked potato or veggies that came as a side.  It was no problem getting a salad from the salad bar instead, at no additional cost.

Bottom line:  If I ever want a salad for lunch, this is where I'll go.  We'll skip the steaks.


4 comments:

  1. I'm so happy to find out that the horse carriage is back again! I missed seeing them. Anyway, I like Ribeye's. After reading this, I realized when we first came there during one of the openings that they served very thin steaks and next time we ate again, the steak was thicker. I even mentioned to my hubby that the steaks look bigger now than before lol. I'm waiting for your Persimmons review. We weren't happy on our visit.

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  2. Jacki, I'm not dying to get to Persimmons because I've heard so many bad comments. I will get there, but not sure when. I need some good food, so we're headed to Pia's next week -- in Washington, NC.

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  3. I would like to go back to Persimmon's to give them another try. I think we went there on their busiest week(the opening week).

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  4. It seems that you are one of those people who thinks their ideas will only suit everybody and then get irritated when everyone hasn't done exactly what you have expected. You probably don't realize at home often you are laughed at behind your back.

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