I love books. I was that kid growing up– reading a book at recess, finishing up school work and picking up a book, a regular at the library. Even now, I always have my Kindle
in my purse (I’m on my third– one was broken by my car keys and one went into screen failure) and am the sort of person who will pull it out while waiting in line at Starbucks or on the elevator at work. I’m usually reading no fewer than five books at a time, switching depending on my mood (I’m currently finishing up The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and Committed: A Love Story and a couple of others). Heck, I even work in publishing. Even though I’m an eBook devotee, I still love browsing in bookstores, which, with the advent of eBooks, are in short supply. Borders is closing all over, and independent bookstores have nearly gone the way of the dinosaur– except for one locally: Joseph-Beth Booksellers, which was recently bought at bankruptcy auction by its landlord. Here’s hoping they stay open– it’s such a fabulous bookstore. They do a lot of events with the library (anytime an author speaks for Friends of the Public Library, Joseph-Beth sells the books), WGUC, and many authors visit the bookstore as well. Plus, they have a restaurant– currently, a fairly decent restaurant.
Over the years, the cafe at Joseph-Beth has been good and bad– I remember times when it was nearly inedible– but they seem to have bounced back a bit. Their menu features original recipes, as well as recipes from popular cookbooks (like Rachel Ray’s turkey burger or Gourmet’s Creme Brulee French Toast). It is always packed on Sunday mornings (when we went), but that’s okay– they give you a buzzer and you’re free to wander around the bookstore. Smart. It keeps us occupied and may just get us to buy something.
When we sat down, it was brunch-ish time– maybe a bit past brunch. We ignored the brunch menu and moved on to lunch: Terry ordered Tyler Florence’s chicken pot pie, and I ordered Rachel Ray’s turkey burger. Now, don’t make fun– Terry just wanted pot pie, and I just wanted a turkey burger– no TV chefdom really went into this decision. Unfortunately, they were out of pot pie– and the kitchen didn’t tell the server until she was about to bring out my burger– so Terry reconsidered and got a beet salad with chicken.
I love beets, and now that Terry’s had them oven-roasted, he loves them too. Served with a vinaigrette, goat cheese, and candied nuts along with some well-seasoned grilled chicken, this was a winning salad (and something I’ll probably duplicate at home). It was fresh and compensated for the cake we were going to order for dessert (but more on that later).
My turkey burger was good, too– very juicy– but had been sitting under the heat lamp a bit too long, as evidenced by some wilted lettuce. The other topping– onions– were a bit sparse too, just three or four small pieces of a red onion. There was supposed to be cheddar cheese on the burger, but it didn’t quite make it (though I didn’t really miss it). I liked the combination of cranberry sauce and dijon, and the side salad was perfect. It was a good effort, falling just a bit short.
The major issue was essentially communication between front-of-house and the kitchen. There were several items that were not available, and the kitchen didn’t tell the front-of-house staff until my burger was already finished (thus the too-long-under-the-heat-lamp lettuce issue). Other items had been removed from the menu entirely (like the cake we wanted), but no one had marked it out. The server commented that there was a menu change in the works, and was quite apologetic, but a simple black marker through the items no longer available would be helpful, or letting us know which menu items were out before we ordered. The kitchen could also communicate earlier– not when she’s picking up half the order– as to availability as well. Things run out on Sunday mornings– it’s a busy time– but knowing a bit earlier would prevent some of the issues I had with the burger. The table next to us had similar issues, so this wasn’t isolated to us.
Overall, they have a good thing going on, but a little more communication would make for a better experience.