Thursday, February 25, 2010

GAINESVILLE'S EAST SIDE RESTAURANTS SERIES: Civilization, was "a" bomb, not "the" bomb

While starting a series in my blog on the quality/value of east Gainesville restaurants,we decided to start with one that I had not yet patronized. What a mistake!

Our dining experience at Civilization was grueling, painful, and tasteless. The only redeeming points to the restaurant were the industrial chic design of the place and the well-intentioned staff. Oh....and the toasted bread was crisp.

Basically, we spent an hour and half waiting for a table and waiting to be served. 90 minutes! When the meal finally arrived (Coq au Vin), it was pretty much tasteless without any depth of flavor.

A dish often put in the category of comfort food, this version coupled with the horrendously long wait rendered our visit to this restaurant a total bomb. If I had cooked this dish at home I would have considered what I was served to be a complete failure. My wife's flank steak was just OK and the chimichurri sauce was barely apparent.

Upon our arrival, the restaurant lot did not have many cars in the lot and we decided to give the restaurant a try. We went in and found two parties ahead of us. The hostess said we could be seated in about 15 minutes. With no place to sit, we stood at the door for about 20 minutes. We were finally offered some seats at a booth set up for waiting patrons, not diners.

Many of Civilization's flaws begin with poor table management. The restaurant needs to add more two person tables. There were many four person tables seating two people. One six person table that had been configured by sliding together one or more tables had two people seated at it. While the restaurant is small, better tabling is needed to maximize the numbers of people that can be served and the number of settings per table per evening. They will surely fail if this problem is not solved.

Several tables had customers with glassy eyed looks of having waited way too long for their food. One of the two parties ahead us, upon being seated, were quick to tell the waitress they were very ready to order. They seemed exasperated too at the long wait and had too ample an opportunity to review the limited menu.

At no point did anyone ask how our meal was etc. I had to flag down someone to request......a napkin. Finally, after we were able to pay our check, we left the restaurant passing the main counter and the hostess and manager/owner. There was not a word uttered. Nothing like "thanks" or "good night" or "we hope you enjoyed your meal."

I will not return. Why would I want to go to a restaurant where the wait is long/painful and the final dish served is tasteless and unimaginative?

Civilization needs to re-examine how they move people through their establishment comfortably and gracefully. Their food needs considerable improvement. If you are looking for good restaurants on the east side, there are many other excellent choices: Satchel's, Ruby's, East End Eatery, The Jones.

If you go to Civilization, be forewarned. I hope they can turn their restaurant around, but for now I can not give them a passing grade.

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