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Articles: food: 2011 October

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Restaurant Review: Chuck's
Tuesday, 2011 October 4 - 11:26 pm
Chuck's is one of the newest ventures from acclaimed local chef Ashely Christensen. It features a variety of novel high-end burgers, like "The High and the Valley" with crushed avocado, bacon-onion jam, and blistered red peppers. As a burger aficionado, I was looking forward to the experience.

The restaurant is pretty; it has a retro diner feel to it, with bright red chairs and black tables. You order at the counter and someone brings your food out to you. Unfortunately the initial impression I got from the order-takers was not positive: there was no welcome greeting, only a haughty stare as they waited for me to pick what I wanted. And when I did give my order, there was no acknowledgement or follow-up. I'd expect some basic prompts like "which dipping sauce would you like for your fries?" or "what would you like to drink with your lunch today?", but no, it was just click on the register and then a bunch of glaring. It was off-putting.

As for the food itself, I was severely disappointed. The burger is very finely ground, not quite to paté consistency but certainly more meatloaf-like than burger-like. It had been pressed into a round mold instead of hand-formed. And then the burger came out with no char or sear, as if it had been cooked at far too low a temperature. It seemed almost steamed instead of grilled. And it was severely under-seasoned to boot.

I've heard of others who have had a better experience with the burger quality, but when you're paying $9 for a burger (without fries), it had better be awesome every time. I've also heard of horrific customer service experiences, like diners getting charged for poorly-cooked burgers that they tried to send back. And it is too much to ask to get a properly-sized glass of water, instead of these little four-ounce thimbles that they grudgingly allow you to serve yourself? (Oh, and the sodas are outrageously priced eight-ounce bottles.)

I'm a big fan of Ashley Christensen and the things she's trying to bring to Raleigh. But I can easily think of a dozen places around here that have better burgers and better service at a lower price, including national chains like Ruby Tuesday, Chili's and Applebee's. And that should be embarrassing to a good chef.

I'm hoping they can chalk up the problems to inexperienced staff rather than design, but I'll have to hear a lot of good things about the place before I go back again.

Rating: 1.5 / 5.0
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Posted by Ken in: food

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