My first mistake was reading all the previous reviews and not paying attention to what people were really writing about. MY BAD! I thought their combined enthusiasm meant that the restaurant was a good place to eat...MY BADx2
If you read the reviews of the Charcoal House they are mostly for the funky, fun, loud, very entertaining bar that is attached to the restaurant. When you enter from the back parking lot, if you hang a left, you're in funville (aka Wrinkle Room) complete with a karaoke machine. If you hang a right, then you are taking your chances with food whose recipes and cooks are clearly left over from the late 60's.
Last night my husband and I had a strong hankerin' for a steak.
We live out near the Viejas Casino and our mistake was either not making the trip into town to the Butcher Shop or going a little northeast to the Barona Ranchhouse, either way I checked the reviews on Yelp and off we went.
First of all, I should have trusted my gut feeling when not only did I NOT note any smoke, charcoal or broiling smells wafting from the building, the Restaurant smelled like an old, stinky rag. Lots of red vinyl in there and someone should know that if you don't use a very clean rag rinsed out in a little bleach you're going to get a sour smell all over the place.
Anyhow, the server (didn't catch her name, no name tag) was friendly, efficient and available so of course I am not stupid enough to "shoot the messenger" we still left her a good tip, not her fault that food sucked butt.
The menu seemed impressive and we settled on two Porterhouse steaks, one w/a baked potato and one w/ a stuffed potato. There was some good garlic bread, fresh and soft, a complimentary salad plate of cold veggies and ranch dressing and a decent mixed salad w/ great croutons ruined by the most watery blue cheese dressing you have ever tasted.
We didn't wait too long and were happy to observe that even though there are lots of folks of the silver haired variety on the side of the bar, there was a nice mixed crowd in the restaurant.
But then...... here came the steaks and I wanted to cry. My husband first of all is a typical male of the old school who when he is hungry will eat no matter what and won't send back food no matter what. He's afraid if he does, either the staff will spit on his next plate or it will take forever and he will starve sitting at the table while he waits. I AM NOT KIDDING!
I learned a long time ago to just go with the flow but that doesn't mean I can't warn anyone else right? My husband had the Porterhouse with the baked potato and as God is my witness (thank you Scarlett!) the two plastic cups that come with a potatoes that traditionally have the sour cream and butter were bigger than the potato itself. Are you kidding me?
Potatoes are so incredibly cheap, giving your customers a nice big , well cooked potato many times will make up for a less than perfect piece of meat. But here's the killer....that beautiful piece of Porterhouse steak looked as though it had been cooked in a George Foreman grill!!
True, it had grill marks but the meat itself was very white, the fat on the edge of the steak was white and cold and gristley. You all know that even though the fat is not good for you when a steak is done right on the grill, even the fat is tempting, almost too tempting to pass up.
At first I couldn't figure out why my steak looked like an albino zebra and then on the way out to the car, I realized that I could smell any smoke, grilling, nothing mouthwatering at all. If you restaurant is called the "Charcoal House" shouldn't it smell at least as good as Burger King does?
Nope, I would bet good money unless I am shown otherwise that there is not grilling going on at the old Charcoal house and that's a sad thing because we are the kind of people that eat out once or twice a week without fail and if we like a place will stick with it no matter what.
If you want good steak...go somewhere else....
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