Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Highlander

931 Monroe Dr. Atlanta, GA

A couple of weeks ago Kyle and I met our friends John and Jennifer at The Highlander, located on Monroe in the same shopping center as the Landmark Midtown theatre, Trader Joe's, Bruster's, etc. We were there to play trivia, which The Highlander offers on Sunday nights.

There are lots of typical bar items on the menu, but there are a few that stand out for their novelty in either title or presentation, such as the Pitcher of Tater Tots or French Fries ($4.95) or crab au gratin ($8.95 - served with pita). We were intrigued by the pasta-rella sticks ($7.95). This is 5 sticks of mozzarella sticks wrapped in pasta and deep fried, with a side of marinara. Yes, someone thought that all cheese sticks needed to transform themselves into fantastic was some fried pasta. If you're adding that many carbs and calories unnecessarily to your diet, the result OUGHT to be stupendous. It wasn't. They really tasted like regular cheese sticks with more bread coating. Not that they were bad, just that the pasta didn't improve anything.

I was determined to try the chili, apparently a claim to fame for The Highlander as it's been featured on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-In's and Dives. It's Jamaican Jerk chili, complete with jerk seasoning, shredded cheddar, sliced green onions, and plenty of good ground beef. A pretty good sized bowl is just under $7. While I liked the flavor, it was way too hot for me. I realize that plenty of people judge chili based solely on it's ability to scorch the mouth (meaning they think this is a good thing), but I'm not one of that tribe. I would have liked to eat more, but I just couldn't handle more than half the bowl.

There's a half decent beer selection. Nothing to get excited about, but several premium choices on tap.

The absolute downfall of The Highlander was its service. It was just awful. When we entered the restaurant, at least 3 servers were hanging out around the server's station. We seated ourselves and were there for nearly 10 minutes before any of them acknowledged us. In the meantime, at least 2 other groups came in and were attended to right away. Judging by the clientele, I'm guessing we were ignored because we were way too average for that scene. And I don't mean we aren't good looking people - I mean that we aren't marred by sleeve tattoos, weren't wearing hipster or Rockabilly clothing and didn't sport huge holes from gauge earrings. Anyone fitting that description appeared to get great service, so if that sounds like you, The Highlander should probably become your new hangout.

Besides getting ignored, our waitress was generally snide. She kept calling us "kids", and I mean every time she came to the table. Since the youngest person in our party was 27, I have to assume this was her "thing." Not that she came to the table all that often. Jennifer mentioned something about the restaurant being written up in Playboy, and I agree that the waitresses seemed to have been selected for their jobs more for their cup sizes than their level of interest in actual service. Had I seen the cartoon on the website before dining here, I wouldn't have actually thought this was an accurate depiction of the employees. But I would have been wrong.

Verdict: Some of the menu options are interesting, but the service was enough to keep me from returning.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhh ... I see that you've finally provided a review of the waitstaff to appeal to, well, um ... dirty old men like myself.

    Still, when push comes to shove (pun only partially intended), I'd rather have good service of the comestible sort.

    There is really no excuse for poor service -- it is what distinguishes a great restaurant from a very good one in many cases. And I can be far more forgiving of an occasional bad food experience if I know that the staff is genuinely making an effort; if they're phoning it in, no deal. And to be snippy and snide is uncalled for. The best service I've had has been in NYC, and those folks are not famous for being gracious. They know how to act and how to do their job.

    My great-grandfather was for many years head waiter at the Palmer House in Chicago. This was back in the 1910s and 20s, after stints at the Savoy in London and the Bayerischer Hof in Munich. When he saw a waiter not doing his job, he would go to the table, speak kindly to the patrons and make a little small talk, all the while grinding his heel into the foot of the server with whom he was displeased. The Prussian army discipline came in handy at times.

    Of course you'd get sued for that nowadays, but I can assure you there was little bad service on his watch.