Thursday, November 10, 2011
1082 Huff Rd., Atlanta, GA www.urbanpl8.com
Tonight I had dinner with my friends Paul and Erin at Urban Pl8. It's on Huff Rd., a street otherwise known for it's bevy of interior design warehouses and it's intersection with Howell Mill Rd. where Figo, Bacchanalia, JCT Kitchen, etc. reside. If you turn there, you'll need to drive a little over a mile before you'll see the sign on the left. Be on the lookout, or you'll be like me and Paul and miss it the first time (maybe even the second). The restaurant itself is back off the road.
Urban Pl8 has a strange vibe going on, specifically a "paleo" vibe. If you're unfamiliar with that term, it's a type of diet that focuses on getting as close to the diet of ancient humans as possible. You know, no processed foods, no grains or beans, no food that can't enter our bodies in "its natural state."
Personally, I have no idea why anyone would want to bother with all that, but that didn't make me unwilling to try or prejudiced against the restaurant, especially since most of the menu's items are fairly healthy and reasonably affordable. Most entrees were about $15, and there's a bar for those who are so inclined. Oh yeah, and plenty of vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten free options if you're on those diets.
I had the Indian shrimp with coconut and vegetables ($16). This came with brown rice, kale, sauteed tomatoes, onions, and more garlic than any dish should ever contain. I'll be tasting garlic tomorrow morning at breakfast at this rate. Otherwise, I liked the kale, enjoyed the fat shrimp and bright red tomatoes. It all came in a round, deep white bowl, Asian style.
Paul ordered the red curry tofu ($12), which is pan seared. He liked it, but didn't really expound upon it the way he does when he truly loves a dish. It comes with sweet potatoes, broccoli, basil and coconut milk. One thing you should know is there's lots of coconut on the menu at this restaurant. If you're into tropical or Asian flavors, you'll be happy. If not, you'll probably be disappointed.
But this will be far from your biggest disappointment. That will definitely be the service.
It didn't start out badly. We were seated and given menus, and quickly received our drinks from a bright, smiling female server. She did her best to explain the paleo concept to us, then she left and didn't return to take our orders for a while (probably about 10 minutes). Next it took half an hour to receive our food, and the place wasn't crazy crowded. A member of the kitchen staff brought our entrees, and then we never saw anyone again. I kept turning around in my seat, blatantly looking for someone, anyone, to inquire about our satisfaction with the meals, refill our empty water glasses, offer us the check, anything, whatever. No dice. Finally I went to the bar and mentioned our waitress had been M.I.A. for quite a while.
"What does she look like?" the pretty bartender asked. I dutifully described the long absent woman. "Oh, she went home," she said, looking vaguely disturbed.
Well, that explains it, I guess.
Another server came to our table, apologized, and took our dessert order. This was a truly intriguing dish - chocolate pudding, but not really pudding. Not pudding at all, actually. Avocado, cocoa, agave for sweetness, coconut milk (see what I mean?), and banana. No dairy, no processed sugar. It had a vaguely mousse-like consistency, and smelled like jarred baby food. Must have been the mashed 'nana. The cocoa tasted much more like carob powder to me, a substance I ignorantly purchased back in college when I was going through an unfortunate healthy smoothie phase. I'm not saying the "pudding" was the worst thing I've ever had, but it wasn't the thick, milky texture or sweet chocolate flavor I'd anticipated.
After eating the pudding, I asked for the check from the new server and presented my Scoutmob coupon, which promises 50% off up to $20.
"Oh, I see you have a Scoutmob," she says, her brow darkening. "There's a mistake on that and we've reissued it. We only give up to $15 off. It was Scoutmob's mistake, not ours."
Are you kidding me? First we wait forever to get our dinners, then our waitress flat out leaves and no one takes her place finishing up our table. Though the new girl was apologetic, and gave us the "pudding" on the house, I don't think that makes up for severely neglectful service AND failure to honor a clearly stated, well circulated coupon. I mean, it's $5 - do you want us to come back for another meal, or don't you?
Guess you don't, and I have no problem moving on to greener pastures.
Verdict: Poor service, ho-hum food, and a coupon mishap that rubbed salt in the wound. Don't bother.