Saturday, December 20, 2003
- by J. Campbell
I will start this article by saying I am not one of the original reviewers you are used to reading. My wife and I were selected by Chattanooga Dine Out for a few reasons; the main reason being that Dine Out respects all opinions that it receives from its readers. Several readers have expressed their opinion on The Vineyard and they were very negative so Dine Out wanted to have someone they were sure had never been to The Vineyard, someone they knew they could trust to do an honest review and who had a feel for good food, presentation and service - and would not be recognized as someone from Chattanooga Dine Out. This is where we come in.
I am not a food critic, but I know how a restaurant can and should be run. I wasn’t going to read any of the visitor comments, but I decided to do so, in order to know what the complaints were. Of course, your opinion gets swayed before you even get there, just as mine did and I had every intention of picking the place apart.
As we entered The Vineyard we were greeted immediately by a clean-cut, well-dressed gentleman with a nice smile that wasn’t over exaggerated (i.e., “used car salesmen smiles”) which can be annoying. We were seated in the room located to the right just as you enter, given a menu and water was brought to us immediately.
For my appetizer I decided on the Portobello mushroom stuffed with crabmeat. Due to the preparation time, the salad was served first. The Caesar Salad was fresh with plenty of grated Parmesan Cheese and croutons. I was given approximately twelve minutes to consume the salad, and with perfect timing, the appetizer arrived. The appetizer was absolutely delicious – hot and perfectly seasoned. Ample time was also given to enjoy the appetizer before our entrees arrived.
My wife ordered the Prime Rib served with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. The potatoes were served hot and the steamed vegetables were crisp and not overcooked. The only problem she had was that she ordered her Prime Rib medium well, but it was more on the medium rare side. She decided not to send it back because she didn’t want it to be over-cooked. The meat was juicy and tender with a delightful smoky flavor.
I ordered the Gulf Shrimp, which was grilled and served with rice and steamed vegetables. My meal was prepared to perfection – I had absolutely no complaints at all.
While we were there, our server, Josh, did an excellent job keeping our glasses filled. He didn’t let them get empty at any point, constantly giving us refills. Our meal was served with Focaccia Bread. I can only assume that the person who referred to the bread served at The Vineyard as cold pizza crust was referring to the Focaccia, which I suppose could be described in this way – although ours was not cold. Focaccia is a flat Italian bread traditionally flavored with olive oil and salt and often topped with herbs, onions, or other items and we found the Focaccia at The Vineyard to be on a par with other restaurants in the area that also serve this bread.
Usually we do not order dessert, but to make a complete review, we ordered the Ultimate Chocolate Cake. Not being particularly fond of a lot of chocolate I felt it was rather rich for my taste, although it was not a bad cake. My wife enjoyed the taste and felt it was delicious and extremely moist – certainly enough for two.
In my opinion the five stars is debatable. Since we were in a room off to the side where it is private and smoke-free – I would give it five stars. However, due to the fact that in the main dining area where the bar is located, there is smoking at the bar, as well as a big screen TV – in my eyes, this would move the score down to a four. Even though the food and service were wonderful, the atmosphere in the main room takes away from the over-all dining experience.
I understand they are trying to take it back to the hey-day of the former Brass Register, but I feel the two do not mix. The people who would be coming for the bar experience and to hear a live band, are usually not the people who are coming for fine dining, willing to pay the fine dining price while putting up with smoking, big screen TV and loud music.
We would definitely consider returning to The Vineyard because we felt the food and service were well worth the trip.
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