I met friends for dinner last night and suggested Rock Springs Cafe. Though I have eaten there numerous times since 1975, I admit that I had not been there for over two years. The ownership changed around the time, but I thought the new owners would keep the recipes and quality up. I was wrong. The decor is still rustic and homey. That has not changed and it's quite nice. But the food was a disappointment.
I had chicken biscuits, an appetizer, and a piece of sugar-free apple pie. The bicuits were dry and fell apart with every bite I took. The chicken was nice, white meat, and not greasy. I will talk about the pie later.
My partner ordered the Honey Fried Chicken, which was "half a chicken". The menu should specify that it is a young chicken, because the bird was slightly bigger than a cornish hen. He said the taste was pretty good. The peas looked either canned or overcooked. They were mushy.
My friend ordered the Vegetable Beef soup. Ten minutes after we ordered, the waitress came back to inform us that they were out of soup. To replace that, my friend ordered the nachos appetizer. It was not hot when it arrived. The cheese was congealed. There were very little in the way of toppings. It did not look appetizing.
Her date ordered the Fish and Chips. What he was served was two visibly greasy portions of fried fish, with what looked like homemade potato chips. They appeared to be greasy and overcooked. He did not eat much of his meal.
We all ordered pie. The Chocolate Cream Pie looked good. My friend said the filling was very good, but she took one bite of the crust and did not eat anymore. She said it was tasteless and not flaky at all. Her date had the Lemon Meringue. He said it was okay, but did not eat much of the crust.
My partner had the sweetened Apple Pie. It looked appetizing, but he said the filling was just okay, and the crust was not very good. "mushy" was his word. As I mentioned, I had the sugar-free Apple Pie. When it was served, the so-called top crust was some kind of soggy, crumbly topping. No real top crust at all. It had nearly no taste, so I moved that aside. The apple filling was okay, but did not have great flavor. The bottom crust was thin, hard, and tasteless. The presentation of my serving was terrible. It looked like it had been dropped from a height and landed on the plate in a mess. But my friends needed to get back on the road, so I ate it.
The shocker was the price. For an appetizer, one entree, two pieces of pie and a soda, it was over $32. Kind of high for an out of the way, very casual cafe. I realize that $32 is not going to buy two dinners at a top end restaurant, but we could have had a much better meal at Denny's for at least $10 less.
I mentioned our experience to a local restaurant (far north Phoenix) manager friend of ours this morning. She said she was aware of the situation at Rock Springs Cafe. She told us that the new owner had lowered the food quality dramatically and even got rid of the woman who made the superb pies that put this place on the map years ago. She hears comments about the poor quality of Rock Springs Cafe regularly.
It was a bit of a drive for us to get to this cafe. Before, it was well worth the drive. Now, we will be sticking with the Valley restaurants that serve high quality, consistent food. If we hear of a positive change, maybe we will give it another try. But it is at least 10 miles north of Anthem, so they will have to make a lot of positive changes to stay in business in this very challenging market.
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