Sunday, June 17, 2012

Century House Tavern Review

Let me first say that I'm not sure what is up with my camera. I've been playing with the settings and obviously it still needs some tweaking.

Date night happiness!  We set out to Woodstock, about 15 miles from here.  Woodstock has made a great effort to rejuvenate their historic downtown and create a charming area with shops, restaurants and residences. In the south, just about every town has a "historic downtown." Woodstock did a great job, it is very charming with lots more choices than the historic downtown of Marietta and neighboring towns.

The newly opened Century House Tavern has taken over the Hubbard House which was built in 1894.  It's a lovely space right on Main Street.  We arrived at 6:30 and the place was packed.  I walked in to leave our name but there was no clearly defined podium so it was a bit confusing.  A very young looking girl and guy were huddled over a clipboard.  I had to ask if they worked there.  They said it would be a 45 minute wait and they would call my cell when the table was ready.  We squeezed ourselves over to the bar area and ordered some drinks.  The bar staff was very lively, welcoming and accommodating.  It was a bit tight in that bar area, so we went to sit outside. It was a lovely evening, exceptionally dry and mild for June but the sun was a bit warm after awhile.

We waited.  And waited.  We finished our drinks and waited some more.  I don't mind waiting, but not without a drink in my hand.  There was no one working the area outside clearing tables, taking drink orders or orders for all the lovely pre-dinner nibbles on the menu.  A total missed opportunity!  The bar was so crowded, we didn't fancy elbowing our way back inside, so we continues waiting for the call which came after an hour.

We were seated at a lousy table right by the door, opposite the very crowded bar.  But we started to get hungry by this point so we sat.  We looked over the menu and decided to order a pate and cheese platter, figuring it would turn up quickly.  We placed our appetizer and drink order and looked over the menu some more.  Our waitress brought Rob's soda right away but not my glass of Chardonnay.  It arrived a moment before the food, nearly 30 minutes after we ordered.  The wine was tepid and the glass covered with condensation, obviously it had been waiting for pick up for a while. 

We were angry hungry by this point and happy to see this arrive.

Pate, imported Tallegio cheese, various pickled goodies, peach gelee and some sort of honey that was the texture of apple sauce and I wanted a huge tub of it.  This was really delicious,  the pate was rich, smooth and flavorful.  The hot sweet pickle of summer squashes and cauliflower was to die for.  I must try to reproduce it. 

We ordered another appetizer to share, the spring roll of duck confit.  Confit is a traditional French process of curing meat in salt then poaching it in its own fat.  Duck can be hit or miss for me and this was a hit.  The duck was succulent and flavorful.  Our main courses came just as we finished the duck.

I ordered the prime rib dip.

Rob ordered the fish and chips.  He always does and he's always disappointed.  We really need to get him back to England soon so he can get his fix. 

Our main courses were not good and not hot, the plates were cleared away mostly uneaten.

We liked the dessert menu so we ordered.

Forbidden Rice Pudding with Coconut Ice Cream. This was beyond good, this was a revelation.  Jamaican black rice slowly cooked to creamy delight.  The rice was perfectly al dente and not too sweet.  I could really taste the creamy eggy vanilla custard the rice was cooked in.  I savored this hoping to pick out all the nuances so I can reproduce it.  Definitely one of the best restaurant desserts I've ever had.

Rob ordered Mille Fueille of Chocolate Mousse.  The mousse was awesome, deep, not overly sweet with wonderfully juicy berries marinated with Grand Marnier and crunchy, bitter cocoa nibs.  But they did a beautiful dessert a disservice with that flabby pastry.  A small bowl filled with mousse, topped with the berries and nibs and maybe a dollop of whipped cream would have really made this outstanding. 

Century House Tavern has potential and a great location.  The dessert menu and top half of the main menu are unique and well presented but the main courses and sandwiches are uninspired.  The front of house staff is very inexperienced and the lack of service to the people waiting outside caused an air of chaos inside and out.  The noise level inside was deafening and I'm no demure wallflower.  The service was uneven, far too many annoyed diners looking around wondering where their food and drinks were.  I overheard the couples at the next table echoing our sentiments about the chaos and confusion.  Despite the good dishes, we left disappointed.  The tab was hair under $100 before tips. 

Not sure if we would go back, if we do it would be for drinks, nibblies and dessert only. 

How was your last restaurant dining experience?


  1. Did they just open? Because that absolutely sounds like someplace that has become too busy too fast and didn't have a plan worked out to handle the traffic. It's kind of shocking that the front of house was so disorganized given that they have a GM with 20 years of experience.

    Certainly having such starring dishes coming out of the same kitchen that things came out cold and just not good indicates to me that they're having problems with inconsistency -- probably got in the weeds and just couldn't manage it. I hate that. I want good cooks to SHINE.

    Their beer list is pretty good -- if they'd replace Guinness and Blue Moon it would be truly outstanding.

  2. Not sure when they opened but I suspect a recent write up in the AJC brought in a ton of biz they weren't prepared to handle. This place has potential but definitely needs some tweaking of the menus and an overhaul of the front of house. There was no GM in site, just a very young looking girl and very young looking guy who were like deer in headlights.