Sunday, October 5, 2014

Clyde's of Chevy Chase Food Review II

Hamburger with French Fries

For years, Clyde's provided (what I considered to be) the definitive bar & grill burger. With the advent of top-notch, fast casual alternatives (BurgerFi, Five Guys, etc.) that honor appears to have expired. My cousin Dean treated me to a birthday lunch last week at Clyde's of Chevy Chase; but the once-mighty chain continues to shows its age (this particular Clyde's attracts a much-older crowd) and sadly/surprisingly, an air of supposed "superiority" that ultimately ruined my meal.

Lunch began on a sour note; as I said hello to a clearly annoyed hostess, who was in the process of being scolded by an irate customer. Turns out, the customer was angry that her taxi hadn't arrived yet, and decided to take it out on the front of house (who don't drive cabs, last time I checked.) We made the mistake of sitting at a table without officially checking in: I explained our error to a server, who seemed to disapprove but said it was "OK." He then instructed me to go to the host station and get some menus. Hmm, I thought that was his job; and so began the not-so-subtle hint of superiority, I mentioned earlier. When I asked the hostess for some menus, she appeared angry that we had already been seated; and reluctantly escorted me to our table. Happy Birthday to me.

The lovefest continued as our server returned to take our orders. Two burgers and a Summer BLT with no appetizers, two sodas and a water for me. Once again, I couldn't shake the feeling that our server was unimpressed with our order. This isn't the first time I felt this way at Clyde's of Chevy Chase. Perhaps it's the clientele; but there's no excuse for being a snob (especially to three paying customers.)

Our lunch took a positive turn when our food was delivered by a kindly (and professional) runner. Each plate looked terrific with a generous amount of food (my Aunt Nessa's BLT was especially impressive.) Great grill marks on my burger, which was cooked perfectly (MEDIUM) as requested. It's advertised as 6 3/4 oz. of beef; but the finished product looked like a lot more. The bun was grilled nicely; and the entire burger fit perfectly and stayed put inside. Nice and juicy too, with a thick slice of tomato and fresh lettuce. I'd have been thrilled; but the fries were cold. So cold, I'd normally ask for a new lot; but I wouldn't dream of asking our server for a perceived favor.

At the conclusion of our lunch, my aunt wanted to take home the remaining half of her sandwich. Our server brought her a container, and placed it on the table. Usually, I wouldn't make anything of it (I'm pretty low maintenance) but on prior visits, the server has always taken care of it... taking the plate away, placing the food in a container and then into a bag. No bag either: We had to ask another (much nicer) server for one... which she happily went, and found for us. That's the type of service I expect from an established chain, such as Clyde's. It would have been sooo much better had she (or anyone else for that matter) captained our table instead.

For the record, we tipped generously (more than 25%) but I decided this would be my last visit to Clyde's (at least this one.) Eating downstairs is a much nicer (and more casual) experience; but bad/terrible service (at this level) leaves too sour a taste to ignore. I'd rather pay less (without a tip) for a similar burger, hot fries and a smile at BurgerFi.

Atmosphere: C (A- downstairs, but I didn't get to choose.)
Burger: B+ (Can't argue with an excellent burger.)
Fries: C- (Cold, but edible.)
Service: F (Terrible... just terrible.)
Value: D
Overall: F (Poor service trumps everything else. I promised never to return: That can't be good.)