It's very difficult for me to write a bad review. I don't like doing it, especially when 80 year old owner Bessie Carine seems so well-intentioned. But I also feel it's my duty to let people know how truly awful this place is. We enjoyed a nice dinner and great, blue collar atmosphere at Carine's years ago, so when we were back in the Fort Bragg area recently, we wanted to to eat there again.
There were two male wait staff, a guy around 60 (I'll refer to him as "Butch"), and a guy who is, maybe, 40 (I'll call him Lenny). Bessie referred to them as "the boys". As we walked through the bar area, Butch stuck his head through an opening to the dining room and said, "Come on in." That seemed friendly enough. There was hardly anyone in the place. I noticed the floor wasn't very clean. My sweetheart said, "It looks like the bloom is off the rose." Why oh why did we not pay attention to these signs??? I ordered Rock cod in lemon sauce and capers, salad, baked potato, and a glass of house wine. Butch informed us that there were no baked potatoes that night. Only mashed. Since mashed potatoes weren't on the menu, we were delightedly surprised to get them and said that'd be great.
Time passed. A basked of cold bread was delivered. Quite a long while later, a salad was plopped down in front of me. I had ordered vinaigrette dressing on the side, but the cup contained ranch. I told Lenny it was the wrong dressing, and he said, "Did you change your mind?" With a huff, Lenny took the salad way. He gave it to Butch and they had a little conversation. Then Butch went into the kitchen. I could see him talking to the chef, who looked like the only person in the kitchen besides Butch. Butch picked up another little cup of salad dressing and continued his conversation with the chef. After another long time, the salad was returned to me with a cup of cheap tasting red wine vinegar and oil.
While we were waiting, I noticed the other diners were complaining to the wait staff about not getting something, or getting the wrong thing. There was a lot of discussion going on between Butch and Lenny. I also noticed that diners got a little dish of ice cream, gratis, after dinner. See, it's not all bad.
Finally, our dinners were delivered. I reminded Butch that I'd ordered a glass of wine, which Lenny delivered about five minutes later. Instead of mashed potatoes, there were baked potatoes. We told Butch we thought we were getting mashed. With a grimace, he slouched into the kitchen to retrieve the chef, whom he dragged to our table. I was dumbstruck, and further astounded when the chef apologized as though he was a naughty child for not having mashed potatoes available. It was really embarrassing. My sweetie asked the chef if he could substitute french fries for the potato and the chef went off to make the fries as atonement for his sin. I was happy enough with the baked potato.
Now, I know some people who will eat at places with poor service because they love the great food... but the food at Carine's was every bit as bad as the service. The rock cod was as flavorless as the sauce it was drenched in. We were in a locale known for its fresh rock cod, we got fish that I think was frozen. The texture didn't seem right and it was, truly, lacking in flavor. Despite the capers, the sauce was also tasteless, thin - and awful.
As we neared the end of the meal, my sweetie's french fries were delivered. They came in a large bowl, enough for a party of four.
We finished up and not wanting the ice cream went to the cash register where Bessie is stationed. She is an elderly Italian woman, and the heir to her parents' restaurant. There's a sweetness and and an air of stoic suffering about her. I wanted to give her a hug. She found our check and gave it to us. It was for $87.00. We noticed we were charged for three glasses of wine instead of one. Bessie apologized profusely and amended the check. We still ended up paying $67.70. Yikes! And in my book, $9.00 for a glass of house wine is definitely too high.
So there you have it.
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