In September, 2011 I posted a review of Charlie's, since it's been one of my favorite places to eat in Fredericksburg for the past 6-7 years. What made it special? GREAT hamburgers, wonderful crisp catfish with all the trimmings, outstanding BLT wraps, scrupulously clean kitchen and dining room, friendly staff that made us locals feel welcome and never, ever rushed to eat and run so the restaurant could pack in a few more people.
Since the ownership/management changed in May 2012 I've eaten at Charlies three times. Each visit and meal has been a disappointment. First change - sneeze guard island so patrons add their own "fixins" to their burgers. Feels like Burger King instead of a local restaurant taking pride in building a great custom burger to order. Cuts labor costs having the customer build his or her own entree, but there are those of us who just aren't fans of do-it-yourself when it comes to food service.
Visit #1 - the kitchen was short-handed and there was a 20 minute wait for our burger baskets. The fries were a bit greasy and limp. We put it down to new staff and start-up glitches.
Visit #2 - Ordered the catfish dinner basket. Instead of several small, crisp non-greasy pieces of catfish, I got two BIG pieces of muddy-tasting, oil-soaked catfish. It was hot, but it was nothing I'd ever choose again. The hush puppies were hard as marbles. The wonderfully seasoned pinto beans of past days were replaced by beans straight from the can. The cole slaw was a pale imitation of the custom-mixed slaw of the "old Charlie's." The fries were still limp and tasted like they'd been fried in oil that was less than pristine. The service was downright unfriendly.
Visit #3 - Ordered our favorites: BLT wraps. The old version used great bacon -- and lots of it. The new version uses an extremely salty and heavily smoked bacon that's just WRONG for the combination of cheese tortilla wrap, chipotle mayonnaise, melted cheese and fomatoes. The signature shower of 1/8-inch sliced and fried crisp "shoestring" red tortillas has been replaced by a clump of 3/4-inch wide sliced and fried strips of red tortillas as a garnish. Lacks visual appeal.
I don't plan on a visit #4 unless I hear that Charlie's recaptures what made it great: customer-oriented service and food prepared to order by cooks who understand that even a humble hush puppy is worth a best effort.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
September 12, 2012
I would like to invite this person to stop by and see me. While there have been some changes since May, none was in the food or the staff that prepares it. Something is amiss.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.