Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Hawthornes Have A Disappointing Meal Out.

Today, Mr. Hawthorne and I took a trip to Manteo to pay our 2009 property taxes in person. Taxes in Dare County are due 9/1/2009 and are delinquent after 1/5/2010. So naturally they ain't getting my money until the very last. There's a notice on the back of the tax bill you can pay by credit card, online or by phone. Yay! Because I get 2-3% back on credit card purchases. But wait. The fine print says they will charge me a "convenience fee equal to 2.75% of the payment amount." Convenient to whom, I ask you? So, I'm back to writing a check. But theeeeennn, I heard from Xmaskatie, and she from Glowria, that one can go to the tax office in Manteo, pay with a credit card, in person, and not be charged the "convenience fee." I don't understand why they would charge a fee for online automated instant payment, but not for having a human being process my charge on site, which took about 10-11 minutes. Government. Pfft! So, we make the 25 minute drive to Manteo, the seat of Dare County Government. I go in. Pay by credit card. I glowingly and happily skip out of the Halls of Justice, bluebirds flying about me, knowing I'll be getting about $60 cashback. To celebrate our good fortune, Mr. Hawthorne suggests we go out to lunch. "Whahhhh? I'm getting 60 bucks back. You wanna squander it?" This is where the plan went downhill. Quickly. One of our favorite places to eat in Manteo is Darrell's Restaurant. It's great if you need a fried fix. Their fried oysters are some of the best. And the service is always good. Even when the restaurant is packed, the service is quick, friendly, and efficient. I wasn't in the mood for fried and suggested Striper's Bar and Grill, where I've had both good and mediocre and bad meals. Mr. Hawthorne was set on Darrell's. So Darrell's it was.
We were promptly seated and served our drinks - unsweetened ice tea, mine with 5 pieces of lemon. "Not 4 or 6," the waitress chimed in? "Six would be fine," I replied. I received five. I ordered the small salad with blue cheese dressing, fried oysters, and I was asked for 2 more sides. I opted for the lima beans and French fries, extra crispy. My other choices were pickled beets, green beans (And you SOOOOO don't want them.), applesauce, cole slaw, fried okra. And baked potato after 5 PM. I figger if you can't fry a decent, respectable French fry at noon, you really shouldn't try baking a potato until after the cocktail hour. Mr. Hawthorne ordered the fish (flounder) sandwich with onion rings. Note to self: Self: Next time order the cole slaw.
The salads are always good. Mine came with mixed greens, grape tomatoes (apparently on the other side of the salad), cucumbers, red onions, cheese, and plenty of croutons. Actually, I think I might have picked off the tomatoes by hand, since the waitress forgot to bring us our silverware.
It's very dark in the restaurant and I don't like to shoot with flash, but forgot to turn the flash off for the picture of my plate. Glad I did so you can see it all. Limp-ass French fries in the front. Overcooked hush puppies on the left. Excellent oysters on the right. And what the hell is that in the bowl in the back? I dabbled with the spoon in the bowl and could not for the life of me determine what it was. Then, Mr. Hawthorne reminded me I had ordered lima beans. It looked like lumpy mashed potatoes. Or maybe lumpy wall paper paste. With a slight sneer, I tentatively tasted it. It was NASTY. And overly SALTY. Mr. Hawthorne explained to me that these were "Southern Lima Beans." I'm a Southerner. I cook lima beans. And I've never cooked something like this shit. They totally cooked the crap outta the beans and there was nothing but mush left. Extremely disappointing. I can't believe anybody could eat this crap. Mr. Hawthorne described the lima beans as eviscerated. Now, I ask you this: How can you fry perfect oysters (which ain't the easiest thing to do) and you can't fry French fries? I specifically asked for "extra crispy" fries and I got limp, soggy, flaccid crap. UGH. We left. Feeling unhappy. And used. And $35 poorer. We kicked ourselves all the way back home. "Why do we do this? "What were we thinking?" "What were we NOT thinking?" "We suck." "What a stupid idea." You get the picture. Darrell's has always been one of my favorites. Waitress didn't ask how our meal was. Mr. Hawthorne made a comment when she cleaned off the table and she either ignored us or didn't hear it. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. Oysters were good. Salad was good. Mr. Hawthorne didn't like his flounder. They left the skin on, and sometimes the dark skin on flounder is acceptable. This time it wasn't. It tasted fishy and oily. And the waitress forgot to bring Mr. Hawthorne his onion rings.
Here's a blurred picture (sans flash) of the oysters and lima beans. Tell me: Would you ever guess those were lima beans? I didn't think so.
I've always liked the Blue Marlin on the back wall. Don't worry, Darrell's. We'll be back. I love your fried oysters. But your veggies-with-the-life-cooked-outta-them absolutely SUCK. And when I say extra crispy fries, I mean EXTRA CRISPY. Is that such a difficult concept? If it is, just give me CRISPY. Don't worry about EXTRA-C. We've been going to Darrell's for a long, long time. Most of the times we've enjoyed it. This time we didn't. Although the oysters were terrific. But we continue to go back when we need our fried fix. Nobody can cook oysters better than Darrell's. When you've been in business for 5 decades you'd think you'd be able to cook a decent french fry to MY tastes - crunchy and extra crispy. Right now, on the beach, the best french fry you can get is at ... Burger King. There. I said it. And I feel a little dirty. Oh wait. I don't feel so dirty anymore. Mama Kwan's served us excellent fries the day the Hawthornes and the Xmaskaties went there. Mr. Hawthorne told the waitress, "Extra crispy fries, please, or I'll send them back." I thought that so funny when he said it. He's never said that nor has he ever sent fries back. As I was typing this, Mr. Hawthorne continued about fries. He said, "I shouldn't even have to say extra crispy. Just crispy should do." How true. But doggone if we didn't get the best fries at Mama Kwan's.


Anonymous said...

I'm thinking you need a better description of how you like your fries, kinda like asking for 5 (not just extra)lemon slices, so they listen, and there is no chance for misinterpretation.
Most crispy fries don't droop when held, stand erect and are not limp, maybe Donna-FFW can offer some advice here?

Rosie Hawthorne said...

I want my fries "standing at attention?"

I want my fries "either holdin' a gun or glad to see me?"

Anonymous said...

Nope Rosie, you need Donna's help here.

Marilyn said...

I'm with you, Rosie. But most restaurants don't want to spend the time (and money) it takes to get the fries crispy.

Donna-FFW said...

In my vast experience, one way to perfect the firmly erect crispy fry, is to gently but throughly oil it from the base all the way to the tip, using firm but quick strokes. Just take care not to squeeze the starch out too soon. That would ruin what would/could be a mutually enjoyable edible experience.

BTW, FFH calls the convenience fee an inconvenience fee.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Donna, I'd know you'd cum for me.

Kathy said...

I just love my blogger porn ;-)

Marilyn said...

Is it hot in here or is it just my hot flashes?