April 18th, 2009
My sorority, Sigma Psi Zeta, had our 2009 Installs for the recent class we crossed: Xi Class. It’s basically an event that happens at the end of every year to showcase our “Neos” (new sisters that joined in either Fall or Spring semester) and to give awards and recognition to those that deserve it in the past year. My Grand-Little (my little’s little–littles are taken on by a Big (sister) and join their family within their family) is part of the Xi Class and I was happy to show her off! Our sorority’s social chair planned the dinner/event (mostly just dinner since the restaurant’s projector was broken), and since our chapter is at UVA, we were a little limited in terms of options (aka Charlottesville). She decided on C&O, a restaurant with a good reputation in Charlottesville and one that had a nice upper level conducive to not only eating, but talking in front of the group (no awkward walls or corners).
A really nice touch to the night were these hand-written menus. Our social chair, Sonya, secured a nice price-fixe menu of around $38 dollars (aherm. unfortunately this became $49.70 after tax and gratuity–apparently Historic Downtown Charlottesville has its own tax separate from Virginia as a state!). In my mind, I could justify the $38 price, I mean they have to serve all of us and we’re reserving the whole upper floor. But that fifty dollar price tag really hurt, and I mean hurt my heart. I could be spending that fifty dollars (lets round the thirty cents, okay?) on one of the restaurants on my very long list of places I would like to go — a Zatinya Easter special comes to mind in particular. And not to mention that this price does not include drinks. Which means my White Russian bumped me over sixty, sixty dollars! It would have been a little easier to swallow (sentimental memories, making up for not being there throughout the year, etc) if the food would have been good. Let’s get to that.
First, the menu:
The menu was nice and hand-written with a calligraphy pen. But, I would have rather had a nice, typed menu that was more legible. I mean, these people have amazing handwriting, better than mine, but for all its fanciness, I couldn’t tell courses apart.
Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority Inc. Installs 2009
18 april, 2009 Charlottesville, Virginia
Caesar C&O of mixed greens, garlic
croutons & parmesan
artichoke paté with toast points &
C&O vegetable soup
fillet of King salmon with sauce verde
pan seared breast of chicken with
blueberry port ginger glaze
roasted vegetable strudel with tomato
steak chinoise with fresh ginger Tamari
scallion cream sauce
chocolate praline torte
Trio of sorbets
C & O
That was exactly how the menu was written. Now, you could imagine that I only ordered the salad as a first course because (due to lack of capitalization or punctuation), I thought there were only two appetizers: the salad and soup; the salad came with all those yummy artichoke and toast and bits. But no, that was a separate dish. And my salad was a sad sad salad. The greens were wilty and lacked life and flavor. The croutons were hard and hardly chewable. The salad was possibly the worst I’ve had ever. In fact, it tasted like it had been sitting at the back of the refrigerator for a few days too long. I didn’t like the salad, but I was munching on it because I was hungry. I looked away for one second and my salad was taken away! Just because other people were done at the table did not mean that I was. It was more the principle of the matter than the actual action that peeved me.
Entree. The salmon sounded good. The chicken had a really interesting sounding sauce, but lets remember here: I’m going to end up paying about sixty dollars for this meal. Steak it is. The steak was not plated well and it tasted alright. I didn’t like the color of the meat (they didn’t even ask me how I wanted it cooked), and instead of looking like they cooked this dish for me, it looked like they had cooked the meat earlier, carved it, and then re-heated it. But, I tasted the salmon my grand-big, Mimi, ordered and I was glad I got the steak (read: not happy, but just slightly better-off with the steak).
Let’s go on a slight tangent here. Mimi arrived near the end of the event–everyone was ordering dessert. There was a slight possibility she would be coming so they had an entree ‘warming’ for her (like they can’t make it fresh like every other restaurant in the world?). They brought her fish out and it tasted watery, lacking flavor. There was flavor in the sauce on top of the fish, but the fish didn’t have that nice butter-y…salmon taste. You know. Well, I was full of my steak (read: done) and gave her my remaining half plate of food in addition to her salmon.
Now here’s where it gets tricky. Everyone was ordering dessert, remember? Well, Mimi tried Pei Ming’s (my big) sorbet trio and liked it enough to order it. And then they wouldn’t let her pay for her entree and dessert. No, see, it was a per-person fee (apparently), not a price-fixe menu. Even though she was only there twenty minutes. “We often have people drop off an appetizer or dessert, but they still pay the full price”. Okay, we’re college students lady. And what if she had only ordered the entree? A fifty dollar crappy salmon? I don’t think so. So, she asked if she could get the entree since “she was paying for it”. I mean, the whole atmosphere was sloppy, and like we were imposing on them. As if we weren’t paying them good money to eat there. That’s what gets me. They are serving us–they should be grateful they get a paycheck and an already ridiculously high pre-calculated tip! </tangent>
Back to dessert. I ordered the chocolate praline torte. I mean, none of the desserts actually sounded that good or interesting, but I had to pick one (right? I was going to get charged anyway), so I picked the chocolate one. It was the best part of the meal, but still not that good. I’d rather get a Starbucks Espresso Brownie or Boba fro Shilla. The chocolate cake had a layer of crunchy, almost Ferrero Rocher tasting frosting/filling, but I didn’t finish the whole piece. The sorbets (mango, raspberry, lemon) were much better. Nice, refreshing, and cleansing. But wait–I can get those at the grocery store. You know, the three-pack Neapolitan style sorbets. For half the price. And twice the amount. And maybe even better tasting? Plus, presentation on the dessert was inconsistent. As you’ll see in the pictures, the order and amount of sorbet varied on the kitchen’s mood. Mimi’s seemed almost angrily slapped together.
At least my parking was validated. (Don’t even get me started on the measly parking lot across from the restaurant that was dangerously full). If you’re eating downtown, eat at Ten, Blue Light Grill, Miyako, OXO, or even zocolo (I don’t like the service/management at zocolo, but at least the food is good!).
(N.B. I also hated staring at a huge florescent Pepsi light the whole night. It was through the window I was seated directly across from and it glared evilly at me all night)