12 March 2007

the front room

dining date: 03.12.07
eatery: the front room on congress street
web: the front room
pricing category: reasonably priced for the amount of food you get
guest critic: none. just the dream team. the core TBC.
overall grade: B/B+

the lowdown:
- about the atmosphere: we all really like that there's an open kitchen. we also agreed that the ambiance would even better without all of the kitchy trinkets around the periphery of the restaurant (what's with the framed photo of jerry garcia?!). benny girl appreciated the slow-turning ceiling fans and said they sort of made her feel like she was in aruba...whatever that means.
- there's a silent TV on at the bar, which is nice for the people who eat there alone...and the good thing is that it doesn't interfere with people eating in the dining room.
- the service was good and she brought an appropriate amount of condiments to the table -- something that the front room has struggled with in the past.
- fabulous location -- a nice neighborhood joint for the east end.

the food
the benny girl
- eggs benedict with a side of homefries and a tea
- grade: B
"i feel like i should like the front room more than i actually do, because generally speaking it's the kind of restaurant that i usually enjoy. however, every time i give it another chance i leave slightly less than satisfied. this morning i ordered the traditional eggs benedict...and i'd like to note that it's the only benedict option. vegetarians beware: no spinach and tomato benedict on the menu.one thing that has always bothered me about the front room's benedict is that it doesn't come with homefries. what kind of restaurant serves an egg dish without homies?! cardinal sin, in my opinion. but i'm a sucker for homies, so i ordered a side of them for $1.50 (to accompany my $7 benedict, i might add). the benedict arrived sans homefries -- i think my two TBC compadres got the last of the batch and the chefs was making more. the hollandaise sauce -- despite being a strange bright orange color -- was really good. the amount of canadian bacon was definitely ample (if not borderline excessive) and quite tasty -- especially in combination with the hollandaise. my two complaints about the benedict were that the poached eggs were overcooked (the yolks barely runny) and the english muffins were burnt. about 7 - 10 minutes into my meal, the homefries finally arrived piping hot. at first they looked really delectable, but after eating a couple of them i realized that they were not up to par. they were soft and kind of mushy and barely grilled -- i like my homies to have some crisp to them. they were also really greasy and even though they were cooked with red peppers and onions, they lacked flavor. on a positive note, the tea proved to be the high point of my meal. it was served in a little pot (always a plus) and the honey and cream were in little pitchers. the server was on top of refilling the hot water. in fact, the service in general was really good. overall, eating at the front room was a decent experience. the food is definitely palatable and "good enough"...but not quite as good as you think it's going to be, based on the restaurant's apprearance and reputation. lastly, i'd like to note that i've tried several things on their menu, and i always feel the same about it -- never as good as you hope it will be."

the usual

- 2 eggs, homefries, toast, and coffee...plus 2 - 3 bites of bacon
- grade: B
"brunch on a monday is pretty much a different ballgame -- no lines, no bustle, etc. we were quickly seated by our friendly server and given menus and coffee. the coffee was delicious, i might add, and though initially slow on the refills, kept on coming. my meal arrived with french bread toast piled high atop my fried eggs. a small scoop of homefries sat alone on the other end of the plate. even though i'm a vegetarian, i ordered bacon with mine because that was the only option for the usual and i planned on giving it to my fellow breakfast-ateers. however, i was tempted and took a couple of bites -- a tasty treat -- but having not eaten bacon in 10 years, i didn't have much to compare it to. the toast was delicious, 4 slices with plenty of extra butter to smear on if needed. my eggs were pretty much not worth mentioning -- not quite as hard as i'd like and lacking even the most basic of flavors. i tasted a weird, abnormal flavor (pam nonstick spray perhaps?) but wasn't sure what it was. the homefries were served in a minimalist style, with maybe 13 chunks total. i prefer to be impressed by my potato portions, and these certainly weren't impressive. they tasted decent, but were a bit chewy and sat in 2 tablespoons of grease. they were also completely different than benny girl's homies -- how odd. overall, i think what the entire meal lacked was flavor -- a little salt and pepper won't kill anyone, and goes a long way when used appropriately. it wasn't bad, but certainly didn't live up to all the hype around portland about the place. our server was wonderful -- nearby when we needed her and quick with the spectacular coffee."

wild toast
- 3-egg omelette with bacon, red onion, and goat cheese, with brown bread toast, homies, and coffee
-grade: B+/A-
"as we went on a monday, we did not experience the normal wait or the bustling homey feel of this restaurant. seated immediately, we were offered good coffee. the meal was, on a whole, quite tasty. rather a lot of food for me to take down -- indeed, i could not finish it. the choice of goat cheese turned out to be overpowering, as i was hoping to enjoy the largish tidleys of bacon. the circular brown bread was fresh and sweet. my homies were a little chewy and overly greasy. the pile of grease pooling on my plate detracted from my meal a bit, but thankfully i had been gifted strips of bacon (from the usual) to distract me. while the first coffee refill was slow, the above standard coffee bouquet was a true delight. as i sit and write this, the ice cubes from my first fill of water still mingle in the top of my glass. now that is a cold ice cube. hurrah! overall, an enjoyable meal, as my coffee topped the charts."


Adam Burk said...

I'm glad you had a good experience at the Front Room. My friends and I have tried to eat there a number of times of the past 2 years, and each and every time the service has been the worst, two forks down, in the city. At one point a server argued with my friend about what she wanted to order! And not in a fun, playful way. Downright, I am going to argue to be nasty.

I haven't bothered with the place in close to a year now because of it. The food was always good, but the service wrecked the experience.

Lily2Susan said...

I still go to the Front Room but am of the same school that homefries NOT coming with your meal is a cardinal sin. That says to me, someone sat around and said they wanted to rip people off by trying to get a few extra bucks for what they know you think is included. They don't ever say, "oh, they're extra, btw." For that kind of money, a few potatoes shouldn't be extra. I hate when places get greedy.