From Hogwash to Posh Nosh
Spare, not Strike for Bowled

As all my friends will tell you, I’m a terrible bowler.  Really, I’m pathetic.  Once, back in high school, I even rolled my ball into the next lane! But my lack of skills doesn’t mean I quit playing the game.  And it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the sport.  I just have a lot of room to grow.  And with every game I play, I get a little bit better.  Someday, I will get a strike and knock each pin neatly down.  Unfortunately, I’m just not quite there yet.  But it’s getting close!

Similarly, Bowled Restaurant (http://www.bowledrestaurant.com/) fails to hit all the pins.  The restaurant comes close, but a few (easily fixable) problems prevent 100% accuracy.  In the game of dining, Bowled just earns a spare.

I get that Bowled does a lot of take-out. In fact, after my dining experience, I totally understand the amount of take-out.  (I myself plan to be frequenting Bowled a lot in the not-too-distant future for my own take-out dining pleasure.)  However, when a customer first walks into a restaurant on a Friday night, she should not be asked “You here for take-out?”

Such was the question posed to me on a dreary evening last week.  “Oh no,” I replied, a tad put off by the strange requested, “I’m meeting friend.”

Thank Goodness I wasn’t, Egads!, arriving at the restaurant to dine….alone!  The horror of such an idea! Eating dinner out at a restaurant by oneself may have been more than the server/hostess could have fathomed!

Luckily, my friend arrived.  “See?” I wanted to say to the server.  “I’m not alone, you crazy lady.”  I, however, refrained and chose to simply order my meal instead.

Almost instantly, our appetizers appeared: a side house salad for my friend and a cup of the tomato bisque for me.  Unfortunately, in addition to being a poor pairing with my wine (I ordered the grassy Sauvignon Blanc to go with my dinner), my soup, although bursting with rich tomato flavor, was lukewarm.  Cold soup, no matter how tasty, is never enjoyable.

Thank goodness we had ordered appetizers, however!!  Over thirty minutes passed before the arrival of our entrees.  While another server sat at the bar folding set-ups (a big no-no in a decently filled restaurant on a big night of the week for dining out), our water glasses sat pathetically empty and we sat forever waiting for our entrees.  And waited.  My post-yoga stomach growled.  My wine glass dwindled, till only a sip remained.  Still, our food did not arrive.  At last, as my stomach growled one more time, I managed to catch our surly server’s eye and asked, “Excuse me, but is our food ever coming? It’s been a while…”

"Oh yeah, sorry," she replied, clearly not the least bit apologetic. "A bunch of other tables put in their order at the same time.  It’s coming out soon."

Huh.  I looked around the restaurant.  Certainly didn’t look that crowded to me.  I was pretty positive there were only one or two tables that had even been seated in the time between my arrival (five minutes before my friend) and the ordering of our food.  Certainly three orders (all from deuce tables) should not take over thirty minutes to prepare.  On a Friday night.  Most baffling.

Thankfully, the food did eventually arrive.  And when it did? Piping hot.  My chicken piccata made me even like that little annoying orzo pasta, when paired with such lemony, moist chicken and a delectable white wine sauce.  Amazingly, the capers (so tasty, yet always such a variable at restaurants) did not yield the dish too salty.  My friend’s pad thai with chicken (chicken added at an additional cost) proved equally successful, though she did not enjoy the inevitable battle of actually eating tofu (the texture of tofu is “too squishy” for her tastes).  Still, the pad thai topped many imitations at “Asian” restaurants.  Plus, both meals provided overly-large portions, providing a whole second meal to be enjoyed at a later date!

The food at Bowled certainly tickled my fancy.  Moreover, Bowled has a multitude of menu items that I look forward to trying.  But, perhaps there is a reason for the server’s take-out comment upon my arrival.  The front of house staff’s etiquette (perhaps a sign of their training) leaves much to be desired.  Even if our food wait was a result of the kitchen delay (which still seems a tad suspicious to me), the waitstaff left much to be desired.  Really, they should know better.  After the server stopped putting together set-ups? She left the remaining napkins, bins, etc. on clear view at the bar.  What if I had, in fact, arrived alone and planned to sit at the bar and enjoy my food? That would have been an impossibility.  And one need not be overly nice, but I would like a server to remember my existence.  And my water glass.  It’s the little things in life…

Still, Bowled can easily fix the minor front of house problems.  The food proved toothsome and, with but a few quick fixes, Bowled can see a fuller dining room filled with diners who brag to their friends and frequently make return visits!  Then, just maybe, I think Bowled could get that strike!

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