Tuesday, September 20, 2011
4686 S. Atlanta Rd. Smyrna, GA www.blackstoneatlanta.com
Last week Kyle and I had dinner at Blackstone. I'd been curious about the restaurant for some time, interested to see this place that had been awarded a few good reviews several years ago in various papers, all of which claimed Blackstone was Smyrna's answer to fine steak and seafood dining. No need to go all the way (meaning a 15 minute drive) to Buckhead, midtown, or downtown Atlanta when you have Blackstone, that sort of thing.
Boy, was I ever disillusioned from that theory. Upon entry, we had to wait for several minutes for the hostess to show up from some back room. We weren't the only ones waiting. And once she came out, we had to wait for a table despite our reservation. Not for a long time, but long enough to give me a sense of foreboding.
Unfortunately that sense was correct. Here's what was wrong:
1. The atmosphere. Too casual, with an overly dark dining room that seemed to be geared towards covering up the dingy furniture and ugly carpet. Adults wearing inappropriate clothing. Noisy children. If all of this recent fervor about not allowing babies or small children in nice restaurants has escaped you, I ask that you visit Blackstone for dinner. You'll know why so many people are cheering this idea.
Maybe this is Smyrna's citizens fault and not Blackstone's, but I couldn't help but think they're geared towards a mediocre dining experience when I saw that overly casual bar and cramped seating.
2. The bread. Kroger has better bread in their bakery, and I'm referring to the house baked kind. Plain, boring, nothing but filler. Why bother?
3. The wait for our entrees. Yes, the restaurant was almost full. However, it was a weeknight, and we had reservations. Upon ordering it took about 40 minutes for us to receive our entrees. Why?
4. Here's a guess: because they were burning Kyle's steak to a crisp. It was a 14 oz ribeye for $37, and was supposedly marinated in soy sauce, garlic and herbs and seared on a flat iron skillet. This steak was a long, long way from being simply seared. Take a gander at the photo above if you don't believe me. He ordered it medium rare. The inside was probably medium or medium well, and the outside was black and charred. What did they do to that poor thing, anyway? Cook it to the requested temperature and then stick it under the broiler for 15 minutes, just for kicks? It was nearly inedible, but we were so hungry by this time that Kyle ate it. Why didn't we complain? Because if you've ever worked in a restaurant or known anyone who has you know that this will almost guarantee you some type of revenge from the kitchen. Not worth it.
5. My fish entree. It was the special, a baked salmon stuffed with crab meat in a citrus buerre blanc sauce ($22). Sounds outstanding, right? No. The fish itself was fine. The crab tasted old. The sauce was lackluster, the orange slices looked as if they'd been sitting out a while.
For dessert - creme' brulee. Kyle assures me that at least they didn't screw that up. I didn't even order dessert, if that gives you any idea of how disgusted with the meal I was.
The only redeeming quality I found at Blackstone was the service. Our waitress, a dead ringer for Maggie Gyllenhall, was perky and bright. She apologized when our food was late in getting to the table, she refilled our water glasses at appropriate intervals and offered us more wine. Blackstone's management needs to do its best to keep her.
The website says Blackstone is an upscale establishment. About the only thing that's upscale about this place is the prices. You'll be paying as much to eat here as you would at Ruth's Chris, where the steak is about a million times better, the staff is more polished and and environment is more spacious and in better repair.
Verdict: No way, no how. A waste of nearly $100 for a dinner for 2.