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I had been looking forward all week to Sunday lunch at The Old Crow as recommended on STM’s top 100 list last year. Hearty Southern dishes like hot cakes with buttermilk fried chicken and jerk pork belly were just clamouring to be eaten, personal trainer’s disapproving raised eyebrow look or not! After all, I’d been sticking to her food challenge all week, and even diabetics get a day off. Right?
As luck (or ill fortune?) would have it, I didn’t need to worry too much about the old waistline, as the weekend brunch/lunch menu I had gone there for seems to have been replaced by a far less interesting one.
First up, they really shouldn’t have recycled the old menus by just crossing them off and reprinting the new ones on the other side. I totally get the saving trees, being environmentally friendly thing. But why not rip up the paper and use the blank face to take down orders? Or shred them and make papier-mâché. Anything but leave it staring at customers like a slap in the face. For there were so many dishes on the old menu I would have happily ordered. The hot cakes with fried chicken and the pork belly, for sure. But also the scrambled eggs with pulled pork, the hash with corn, and the cornflake cookies with honeycomb ice-cream. The current menu seemed really quite blah in comparison.
I decided the most interesting yet fairly healthy, low carb option was the Southern baked eggs with bacon and kimchi ($20).
I guess the dish looked inviting enough, though if I must be picky, they really should have called it “Southern baked beans with an egg and some kimchi on top”. Perhaps someone should give them an education about the difference between the singular “egg” and the plural “eggs”. But this is a food review, not a lesson in English, so we might as well start with the egg in question, which was actually the only good thing about the dish. It was perfectly done, the yolk spilling out like lava over the beans when I cut into it, adding some creaminess to a dish that was otherwise completely lacking in flavour and textural contrasts. The beans were soft and slightly spicy…and that was about it. The kimchi was not only a rather odd accompaniment that didn’t work for me, it was also soft and slightly spicy…and that was about it. There was no complementing crunch element to the dish. No sticky sweetness. Not even enough salt, and this is coming from someone with a very low tolerance for food that is too heavily salted.
I also ordered a traditional long macch ($4) to go with my meal.
One of my dining buddies ordered the smoked brisket and potato hash ($21).
To their credit, my pregnant friend’s request to have the egg fried on both sides instead of sunny side up so that it would be cooked through was fulfilled without a fuss. This dish was far tastier than the beans, with the caramelised onions providing that sticky sweetness to counter the salty hash, and the pickles adding freshness and tanginess. And if the egg had been sunny side up, the runny yolk would have added just the right amount of creaminess to tie the other drier components of the dish together.
Another friend ordered scrambled eggs on toast with house bacon ($17).
The winning dish was definitely the hot cakes with fruit compote and maple syrup ($19).
This was a very generous serving with 3 thick but perfectly cooked and fluffy pancakes stacked one on top of the other and drizzled over with just the right amount of maple syrup so that it wasn’t sickeningly sweet. The slight tartness of the fruit compote was also a perfect foil to counter the sweetness of the pancakes and maple syrup, and added a definite more-ishness to it. Unimpressed with my own choice, I ended up polishing off what my friend couldn’t finish eating. This is one that’s well worth trying and good value as you’d probably have to share it with someone.
One of the waitresses helped my friend to open the gate outside and wheel her pram into the restaurant dining area. The service was also very fast. We were seated and ready to order around 10.15am, and were out of there in just under an hour.
That’s where the positives end, unfortunately. We were served by this incredibly rude and unhelpful waitress with a foreign (European?) accent. I felt too self conscious to take a front on photo of her, and didn’t think she would give me her name, so didn’t bother asking. But let me describe the events of the day.
A ordered the baked eggs, following which I said, “Make that 2.” I hadn’t heard, but apparently she had repeated our order as “hot cakes”. Fortunately, S picked up on that and said, “I’ll have the hash. By the way, just double checking that they’ve (pointing to us) ordered baked eggs, not hot cakes.” The waitress repeated, “Baked eggs?” To which I said, “Yes, we want baked eggs, not hot cakes.” She nodded. The last 2 orders of (ONE) hot cakes and scrambled eggs with bacon were then given. The entire order was NOT repeated to us at the end.
When the food came out, the waitress placed baked eggs in front of me, hot cakes (quite appropriately) in front of E…and another hot cakes (very inappropriately) in front of A. We called our waitress back to remind her that we had asked for TWO baked eggs, not two hot cakes. This was followed by about 5 minutes of arguing, debating, and the waitress actually getting angry and raising her voice at us, insisting that she’d repeated the entire order at the end and we’d nodded our assent (which was a complete and utter lie). I think she was hoping we would back down and just accept what we’d been given. Truth be told, the hot cakes looked as good as they tasted, and if she’d just apologised and said, “I’ll change it for you,” we would have told her, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll just eat this.” But her appalling reaction and attitude just made us adamant to stand our ground on principle.
Finally, she did begrudgingly take the hot cakes away and swap them for another serve of baked eggs, but then she tried to charge us for 6 dishes at the end! I wish I’d thought to photograph the 1st receipt she presented to us with grand claims that we were getting a $3 discount because “it’s not possible to change the receipt”, and therefore she was only charging us for 3 hot cakes at $19 each instead of 1 hot cakes and 2 baked eggs at $20 each.
What she didn’t count on is the fact that, being Asian, we’ve been taught from a very young age to not only scrutinise bills/receipts, but also to do quick additions in our head to make sure we haven’t been ripped off. So let this be a lesson to those of you who think mathematics is a waste of time in school. It really isn’t! I used to tutor maths to some of the younger kids when I was in high school, and as I used to tell them, just put a dollar sign in front of all your maths problems, and you’ll soon realise that maths is very relevant to everyday life.
Anyway, the 1st receipt actually read: “3 hot cakes $58, 1 baked eggs $20, 1 scrambled eggs and bacon $12 + $5, 1 hash $21, 1 large latte $4, 1 long mach $4 = total $124”. Hang on a minute… why are there 6 meals when we were only a table of 5?
I called the waitress over, and even before I’d finished explaining that the receipt was still incorrect, she was already collecting it to go and get it changed at the till. No questions asked. Hmmm… maybe I’m just being suspicious here, but I have a feeling she was trying to pull a fast one on us with that eloquent description of “offering us a discount”. Within a couple of minutes, she was back with the new and (almost!) correct receipt. What happened to “it’s not possible to change the receipt?” For that matter, it was still wrong in that we were charged for 2 hot cakes and 1 baked eggs instead of the other way around, but whatever. I’d had enough of her and the place by then.
It’s quite a quaint restaurant, situated in an old Federation style building that has been renovated with a modern glasshouse-like extension at the front whilst retaining the historic interior. There are several al fresco tables outside, but we were glad for an inside table in today’s sweltering heat. The interior was nicely cool but a bit dark and echoey, which may have accounted for the waitress misinterpreting our order, but there’s simply no excuse for her rudeness and trying to charge us for a meal we did not eat.
The prices are good for the size of the servings.
I was completely unimpressed by my meal, the coffee and, most of all, the service. It’s highly unlikely that I would return, and I do not recommend eating here unless it’s pancakes you’re after. Tuckshop, just down the road, is a far superior option for breakfast/brunch/lunch.
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