Chow, Baby expects, in the future, to make the new brewpub on Magnolia Avenue one of its homes away from home. Craft brews, inventive food, homey atmo on the Near Southside, within reach of so many entertainment options — what’s not to like?
Well, a few items on the menu, to be sure, but the place has been open only a few weeks, so Chow, Baby is still cutting the kitchen a little slack. But a rude, inattentive waitstaffer? This needs attention now, before people start referring to the joint as The Clueless Lady rather than the The Bearded Lady (1229 7th Ave.).
I’d been there once, just for drinks, and liked it, but that was before the kitchen opened. So when I read in the Weekly’s Last Call column that food service was laid on, I grabbed some friends and headed out.
Our server seemed fine at first. She greeted us promptly and returned in a few minutes to take our drink orders. Or at least she took mine –– then ran off without taking anyone else’s. When she came back with my beer, we practically had to trip her to keep her from zooming away again before other folks at the table could put in their drink orders.
Fortunately we were able to keep her attention long enough to order appetizers, which the kitchen does extremely well. Sure, it’s fried bar food, but everything seemed to be made with care and tasted great. The fried green tomatoes ($6) were served with a zesty mayo, and the batter was crisp and delicious. The fried portobellos ($7), battered and served with the same sauce, were equally delicious. We were off to a good start.
When it was time to order entrées, however, our server pulled the same disappearing act. She took orders for two of the four people in our party and fled. When we flagged her down so the rest of us could order, she was visibly annoyed.
After a very long wait, she informed us that the kitchen was out of three of the four sandwiches we wanted. We were in no rush, not bothered that the kitchen was out of some things. As we discussed what else to order, she became very defensive. Her words said, “We’re still new.” Her look said, “Give me a break.”
She stood at our table watching me read the menu. When I said that I might need a minute to think things over, she replied, “It’s a really small menu.” Voice dripping with disdain, she proceeded to list everything on it.
When we ordered our replacement dinners, she did it again, running off before we could ask for another round of beers — we had been dry for some time. The food arrived, and she literally dropped it onto the table, like a child throwing a tantrum. No flatware, no queries about whether we needed anything. We had to stop her again to order another round of beer and other items.
The entrées weren’t as good as the appetizers. The Slap Yo Mamma Pork Chop Sandwich ($12) was chewy and difficult to eat. The sandwich featured beer-brined chops with apples, jalapeños, and spinach on sourdough bread. It had way too many apple slices, making it sweet. The “fancy” grilled cheese ($7) was gooey and wonderful, owing to the copious amounts of melted gouda and cheddar on sourdough bread. The chicken sandwich ($10) was dry and pedestrian, with very little flavor.
A few minutes after dropping our plates, our server returned to announce that she was passing us off to another staffer. Whew. She got to leave, and we got a new waitress — one who was friendly and had way more on the ball.
Maybe that original server was as new as the joint and just having a bad night. And maybe my grannie will grow a goatee. I’ll keep you posted.
Contact Chow, Baby at firstname.lastname@example.org