We went on an August weekend, with a Groupon in hand, for the Sunday Brunch. We went early because my experience with Brunches is that they get picked over and sloppy towards the end.
First off, a very long wait (over 40 minutes) in a crowded and unpleasant lobby. Weird, because we could see lots of empty tables and when we were seated, it was in a near-empty room. I think they were short of staff -- both waitstaff and kitchen staff.
The restaurant itself is pleasant -- a cozy, dark brick lined space with a fireplace. But the brunch itself is overpriced and overpromised -- a real clunker.
The whole schtick of Phil The Fire is "chicken and waffles". For this to work, the chicken must be outstanding, the best of the best fried chicken and the waffles delicious. These two major items do not work at all here. The chicken was indifferent and tough. The buffet ONLY offered drumsticks and drummettes (the top of the wing) -- no white meat at all. And it was lukewarm and dry, and very tough.
Even worse, the waffles are generic -- no flavor -- and very soft, like white bread. Not crisp at all. The staff has severe problems keeping up with the waffles (as well as other items on the buffet). We barely got two small slices of waffle each, had to wait and it was only not an issue because they were not good.
The other thing with the waffles: the famous cinnamon butter. Really "cinnamon margarine", it was doled out in tiny, tiny scoops -- one apiece. I asked for more and didn't get any.
There are two lines, one for breakfast items and one for dinner items. Also, in the bar is a very small table with some cut up fruit, and tiny desert samples in cabinets. I suppose you don't need a huge piece of cake after a buffet, but this looked cheap.
They were out of food in both lines; the breakfast line was the worst. Stale, hard biscuits and corn muffins (they had sat far too long under a heat lamp. What kind of SOUL FOOD place can't make biscuits? FOR SHAME. They should have been bringing hot biscuits to each table (with cinnamon butter!)!!! Biscuits can't be kept well in a chafing dish.
There were generic little sausages (like the "heat and serve" type) and congealed scrambled eggs, and the worst was french toast -- triangles of blackened tough bread. Ugh. As I said, the waffle making was having trouble and the omelet station was a disaster -- they could not keep up and you had to order your waffle from your waiter (good luck finding your waiter at a BUFFET). Then they did not have ham or bacon for the omelets, just veggies. Our omelet when it came was burned and brown and tough -- inedible.
The regular food line had two distinguished items: superb mac n' cheese, bubblings with hot cheese. We were lucky to arrive as they put out a fresh dish of this. It's mostly what we ate! and also collard greens with ham hocks were excellent. Sweet potatoes were just canned, with nothing added in the way of sauce or spice.
Fried catfish nuggets were OK but they had no tartar sauce or lemon -- and they ran out fast. The chicken as I say above was a major disappointment as it was tough, dark meat and they also ran out fast.
When we tried to go back for seconds, nearly anything edible was long gone. This was at about noon!!!! They open at 11:30AM and were out food before 12:30PM!!! Horrible planning. The restaurant was not even FULL.
Beyond this, they did not refill our water or drink glasses, or refill coffee cups and we had no salt or pepper shakers, and only ONE paper napkin a piece. It took forever to get our check, as well.
This was a disgrace. We had a Groupon but at full price, this would have cost over $50 for two people, plus tax and tip!!! Even for what we paid (about $12.50 each), this was disappointing in the extreme. You'd be better off picking up a bucket at KFC.
Just avoid this place; the management is a disaster....they clearly do not care....it must be on its last legs to be run this disastrously. We will never return.
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