I had a genuine reaction to the ordinary. I slurped down a delicious Broiled Oyster in “hotel butter” and Parmesan and it was good. So good that I gave it the ultimate middle class compliment, “This is Red Lobster good!” Stunned? Don’t worry, so I was I!
Let’s start at the beginning. Charleston talks about The Ordinary like it’s a historical monument not to be missed, “Well you’ve got to go to The Ordinary.” To a refurbished Bank of America that is now a James Beard winning oyster and espresso bar? Hell yeah!
We ordered everything the waitress suggested: Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar, Crispy Oysters and Beef Tartar, and Head-on BBQ Shrimp.
The seafood had a delicate and delicious touch that should go without saying. The Yellow Fin Tartar was by far the best bite of the evening. The tuna was so fresh that it could have been eaten plain, but the cream sauce decorated with some radish shavings was cocktail worthy and highlighted the fish perfectly. Just the right amount of cream and citrus to make me want more.
For my entree, I ordered the NY Strip Steak which was the special of the day. I was thinking this might be a mistake, ordering steak at a seafood place, but why would a James Beard winning restaurant have steak on the menu if it is not going to be a damn good steak? Or at least a steak better than someone could make at home?
Even before my plate arrived, the seas were rocky. My salad was nothing but green lettuce and a flavorless buttermilk dressing. As luck would have it I had the parmesan oysters during this course so everyone knew I’m not a square.
When my plate arrived, the sides were nothing short of depressing. The picture says it all. I guess Charleston is on a diet, possibly famine induced. I got three 10 cent potatoes and some yellow green beans that are in desperate need of a friend.
The waitress suggested I order the steak medium rare, which is cool that’s my favorite temperature anyway, but when I pointed out that my steak was medium well she said, “Yeah, that’s what medium rare is looking like tonight. The steaks are a little tougher due to the dry aging so we’re cooking them longer.” If that’s true, then why not tell me that during your recommendation? Our steaks are going to be overcooked and tough. Sold! If only she could have warned me that the steak would be unappitizingly salty and bested by the worst steak you could find at Outback, she would be batting a thousand.
While I’m gnawing on my steak and rationing potatoes, my friend bit down hard on two pearls in his fried oysters. Should we complain about that? One of the pearls was Gobstopper big (Hello friendship bracelets!), so we complained lightly.
The overcooked, salty steak and dental damage from jewelry in the fried oysters landed my friend and I a discount on our check and a free taste of one of the worst appetizers I could ever imagine: the Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Louie, which had the culinary forethought to put mayo and crab together on lettuce with saltine crackers on the side…I’m thinking they ripped this item off of Shoney’s menu, but don’t quote me.
Low and behold they were holding back some aces for the dessert round, which was panna cotta made fresh daily by some Earth stranded angel. This was unreal. It hit the happy gelatin medium that lands somewhere between Greek Yogurt and Flan, but tastes like God’s best rice pudding. It was served on top of a berry sauce that I wish I still had some saltines leftover from the Crab Louie for.
Overall, this place was a huge letdown and even though the manager gave us her card and said she would take care of us the next time we come in…I’m not going back! When Red Lobster is your competition…you’re losing.