As we get ready to kick off a food weekend, for Friday night dinner we were looking for someplace that met three key criteria:
1) new / different;
2) local (we would be in the city on Saturday and Sunday); and
One of the issues with where we are in the ‘burbs is the lack of new or different restaurants. There are a couple of quality local places plus all of the chains, but rarely do we hear about a new place, particularly one that is recommended by others. One of the couples that we dine with regularly told us that they had been to Burke’s Grill recently and “for Douglasville, it’s good.”
As we were discussing going, Jo suggested that we call and invite some friends who live on that end of the county to join us. A time was set (6:30) and we headed out to meet them. When we arrived, they had already been seated, next to the sign above. The place is clearly family run and from reading the menu and listening to the manager, the chef / owner / father / husband influences the menu strongly with a New Orleans bent.
They had ordered a shrimp bruscetta appetizer, which was not complicated, but was good. The onions and tomatoes were diced finely and covered in a thin layer of vinegar , topped with shrimp and served on toast.
The downside to the restaurant was the service. It was quirky, at best. The young man that waited on us was not particularly gregarious – he was actually much closer to timid. At one point, I think the couple with us hurt his feelings when they didn’t want any more water.
I noticed that they had poutine on the menu as an appetizer, although they didn’t call it that (it was listed as french fries with cheese and gravy). When I asked about the poutine, he looked at me like I had a third eye in the middle of my forehead. I asked our server if the french fries were fresh or frozen. He didn’t know – I could see in the kitchen, they were pouring them out of a bag. I asked what kind of cheese. He didn’t know. “Cheddar?”, he volunteered. I passed on that.
And then a young woman came to the table and asked if we had any questions about the menu. We said that our waiter was doing fine with explaining it and that’s when she went on to explain that she was the manager, she knew all about the menu, and that her father (the chef) had raised them in New Orleans. Many things began to make sense.
We asked about the shrimp and grits: is the sauce tomato based? Or like a gravy? She explained that it was cooked with the “holy trinity of New Orleans cooking – butter, cheese and wine. You can never have too much wine.” Justine Wilson carried that attitude off pretty well twenty years ago on public television. But to hear a girl who looks like she might be eighteen (I’m sure she was older) at best say it is, at best, off-putting. Jo went ahead and ordered the shrimp and grits
The presentation was unusual (topped with a lemon slice and parsley) and the grits tasted heavily of the wine, but they were good. Not much like the shrimp and grits that I prefer but Jo enjoyed them. I ordered the fried chicken
with mashed potatoes with white gravy, lima beans and sliced tomatoes. But back to the service – the shrimp and grits and the fried chicken arrived, along with one of the other couple’s meals, at the exact same time as the salads that the two ladies had ordered. The waiter, noticing our look of consternation at everything arriving at once, said “sorry”, tucked his head and left. Nothing more was said. And then about five minutes later the other meal arrived. The sliced tomatoes never did show up.
My fried chicken was fine – not great. The crust tasted of peanut oil and the meat was neither moist or dry. The lima beans were very good. The mashed potatoes appeared to have been made from a mix. We saw some roasted lemon chicken coming out of the kitchen as we were leaving that looked tasty.
There is definitely promise here, but for us to make more than one return trip, there will have to be much better service on the second visit.
I would like to say that every time I have entered Burke’s Grill I have been welcomed with open arms and a hug. The atmosphere was outstanding as well as the servers. I guess everyone has an off day and the day that you had dined must have been the day. I also suggest that you try the beef stew. It beats mine hands down. The cuisine is absolutely delicious with so much to offer and I always stop by when I am in the area.
Hi, there! I’m the “off-putting 18 year old manager”, although I prefer to be called Erinn. You’ll be happy to know that I’m actually 22 and don’t even drink. I made the comment as a light hearted attempt at a friendly conversation, it was not intended to be so serious and I sincerely apologize if I offended you. Being a first time guest I can see how that could be misinterpreted and I’ll keep that in mind in the future, so thank you for pointing that out. As for the service, that experience truly does not sound up to our standards, and once again, I apologize. That server is no longer with us and I would love for you to come try again because our current employees are very good at what they do. If you have a bad experience PLEASE ask for a manager! It is our job to make your experience as pleasant as possible and we can fix any problem as long as you bring it to our attention! Thank you for taking the time to try us out and review us, and please come try us again, I can assure you your experience does not sound normal for our restaurant and we can be sure it never happens again! We pride ourselves on having good relationships with our guests and we would love to have you experience that firsthand! Have a nice day and I hope to see you soon!
Erinn, thanks for the comment.
Please note I found the wine comment “off-putting” and said you “might be 18 (I’m sure she was older)”.
As I told your mom, we do intend to give it another try, we just don’t always get to that end of Douglas County.
Thanks so much for reviewing our restaurant. I do have a few misconceptions to clear up though. First, the young woman you found off putting (by talking about the wine) is our youngest daughter and she is 22 so she is above the legal drinking age. She was not raised in New Orleans and neither were her sisters as we moved shortly after our second child was born and the first was only around 18 months old but we lived in New Orleans for almost 5 years and my husband gathered several old “family” recipes from people we knew and/or worked with and he loves Cajun style food so it does have an influence on our menu.
As for “poutine”…. I had never heard the word until I just read your review so I am sure the server hadn’t either and after looking it up I see our “recipe” is a little different than the traditional so I think we will stick to calling it fries with gravy and . cheese. It is made with colby jack cheese (not cheese curds as poutine is routinely made with according to Wikipedia).
I can assure you that our mashed potatoes are NOT made from a “mix”. They are real potatoes, boiled and mixed in a mixing bowl with real cream and butter or margarine. They are a little thicker than most places make their potatoes because we also use them on our open faced roast beef sandwiches and if they were thinner they would run off the bread.
The server you speak of had ;most likely just started working with us and it is his first serving job. He is home for the summer from college and, yes, he is a little shy at first. Since he hadn’t been here long he was still learning the menu which would account for his lack of knowledge on some of the items. He also probably forgot that the servers are supposed to get the salads rather than the kitchen so I do apologize for your not getting them before your meal or that you never got your sliced tomatoes. Had we been aware that you hadn’t gotten them we would have surely made up for it. I apologize.
Oh, and the comment on the fried chicken tasting like peanut oil? I’m not sure how that would happen as we do not use peanut oil in our restaurant for anything (too many people with nut allergies) but we use a clear frying vegetable oil and we filter it daily. I apologize for anything you felt was sub par and hope that you will come back and allow us to make it up to you.
I always appreciate hearing from owners / managers.
“First, the young woman you found off putting (by talking about the wine) is our youngest daughter and she is 22 so she is above the legal drinking age.”
Thanks for the clarification
“She was not raised in New Orleans and neither were her sisters as we moved shortly after our second child was born”
I clearly misunderstood.
“I can assure you that our mashed potatoes are NOT made from a “mix”.”
I’ll have to try them again and give a second opinion.
“The server you speak of had ;most likely just started working with us and it is his first serving job. He is home for the summer from college and, yes, he is a little shy at first. Since he hadn’t been here long he was still learning the menu which would account for his lack of knowledge on some of the items. He also probably forgot that the servers are supposed to get the salads rather than the kitchen so I do apologize for your not getting them before your meal or that you never got your sliced tomatoes. Had we been aware that you hadn’t gotten them we would have surely made up for it. I apologize.”
“Oh, and the comment on the fried chicken tasting like peanut oil? I’m not sure how that would happen as we do not use peanut oil in our restaurant for anything (too many people with nut allergies) but we use a clear frying vegetable oil and we filter it daily.”
I must have misidentified the taste. It may have been the taste of the vegetable oil in the chicken skin.
“I apologize for anything you felt was sub par and hope that you will come back and allow us to make it up to you.”
We’ll try again when we are back on that end of the county.
Thanks for sharing. I love reading about your food adventures.
Sorry you experienced the service you did. My experience has been much different. I have eaten there twice but both times at lunch. Each time the server was an older, motherly-type person and could answer all inquiries with a natural cantor as if she were serving from her own kitchen. The first time was with a large group but that made no difference, great service. I had the daily special – Chicken and Dumplings. It was awesome. Had large chunks of chicken (a personal requirement). To be honest, I was a little disappointed on the second visit, only because I discovered I was there on a day when chicken and dumplings was NOT the special of the day. However, when I mentioned it to the server, she immediately went to find out if there was any left over from the day before. I was out of luck. So I settled with the fried catfish. No disappointment there!! It was great, but the best part was the homemade tarter sauce. Absolutely the best I have ever had. As we were leaving I commented on it to the chef/owner, to which I got a quick history of it’s making. Enjoyed the friendly conversation. Left feeling satisfied both with the food and the service. Hope your next visit proves to be just as satisfying.
I will have to say this, with the risk of putting my food judgement in jeopardy, but I probably would have had the same response when confronted with “poutine”. But now, thanks to you and google, I know…..
Thanks, Richard, for the comments. I believe the matronly server is “mom”, based on comments from the couple we were dining with. They said she was a prolific hugger. I’m glad to hear your service experience was better.
The food was good – I’d go back for chicken and dumplings. Large chunks of chicken fit my requirements as well.
I didn’t know about poutine either, until confronted with it on a menu six or seven years ago. But neither one of us is marketing it……
I’m sure we’ll try it again.