Review: The Grove Grill
Because most of my good experiences have mainly been in midtown restaurants, I walked into the Grove Grill hoping that I could say something positive about East Memphis restaurants. This part of town, it seems, lacks consistent, unique restaurants. I was praying that The Grove Grill, situated in the Davis Kidd’s shopping center on Poplar, would prove me wrong, therefore allowing me to become a “regular” at one more restaurant. I did my best to block out my last experience at this place as well as the seemingly abundant negative opinions from my friends. However, I found myself reliving my last experience and agreeing with my peers.
By the time we sat down, D1 and I already had some things to say. First off, the décor and atmosphere of The Grove was not upscale, as their prices reflected. Instead, as D1 so accurately pointed out, the place took on the appearance of a “…cheap hotel restaurant”. Further contributing to this feel were the staff’s unprofessional uniforms, which consisted of khaki pants and a blue or pink seersucker shirt. Yet in light of the faltering atmosphere and Ikea-esque decorations, I remained hopeful that the food would, in the end, avenge the restaurant. For an appetizer, I had the fried green tomatoes with pepper jelly. The batter on the tomatoes was good, but the entire dish was overpowered by the overly sweet jelly. Without the jelly, the tough tomatoes had no flavor at all. For my entree, I ordered the mahogany roast duckling with whipped sweet potatoes, turnip greens, and dry cherry gastrique. The duckling was tender but didn’t posses any mahogany characteristics. The flavor of the duck was closer to a typical rotisserie chicken. As for my sides, I found both of them too sweet. Yes- whipped sweet potatoes are supposed to be sweet but these potatoes were too sweet. Turnip greens, on the other hand, are usually bitter. These greens, though, were, like the potatoes, too sweet and left me feeling confused. D1’s entrée, however, was ten times worse than mine. D1 ordered the Groveburger which was served on a sesame bun along with fresh cut fries. As soon as our waiter brought the burger, I was suspicious. I told D1 to wait one second, and for a moment I eyed the burger. “Hmm,” I said and then waited for D1’s critique. Not long after taking the first bite, D1 realized that it had made a mistake ordering the burger. Unfortunately for D1, the burger, along with the bread, was burnt to the max. This, though, was not an egregious crime and not my main suspicion. “This tastes like a frozen, pre-patted burger.” That was my suspicion. I found the burger to be not only thin but also perfectly round. The taste of the burger reinforced my speculations as it certainly tasted like a frozen patty and lacked that fresh meat flavor. (For those of you who don’t understand what I’m talking about, I suggest getting one burger from Back Yard Burger’s and another from Houston’s. You should be able to tell which restaurant uses a frozen patty.) How could this “up-scale” restaurant do this? Why would any restaurant feel the need to serve meat that has already been patted and frozen? One word: convenience. So many restaurants take shortcuts and as a result sacrifice quality and flavor. Now, obviously I didn’t confront the waiter and demand to know if the burger was really pre-patted. The Groveburger may indeed be hand patted. If that’s the case, then it means that the $11 Groveburger tastes no better than a $1.99 Wendy’s burger.
To sum it all up, I – wait. No. I don’t think I need to give you a summary. Instead, allow me to tell you how I ended my meal: by running down to Davis Kidds where I, with a roaring stomach, headed toward the nearest restroom. I wasn’t going to let the food ruin more than it already had.
-Reviewed February ’08