Not tickled, really! This is not going to be great – and I agonized over writing this before dishing up a scathing account of our night at the Rib. But they’re trying hard, so a few pointers can’t hurt, can they?
And it wasn’t all bad – by a long shot. We’d snooped in a week or so earlier, on our way back from the State Cinema and an uplifting movie experience. It was mid afternoon, and the Tickled Rib had been open a week. A couple of the owners were behind the counter, and looked shell-shocked and battle scarred.
They looked tired. The first week of a new restaurant will do that, every time.
A few weeks later, we thought they must have had time to settle in, get the cobwebs out, and ridden through the hiccups. Finding our group table nestled at the back, with comfortable banquettes was a good sign.
Barman/waiter saunters up to us, bids us welcome, and throws a few paper menus on the table. He walks away… After a good ten minutes or so, he comes back, and takes the drinks orders from the top half of the table, then walks away.
Another ten minutes or so he comes back with a couple of cans of beer, a glass of wine, and notices the people at the lower end of the table. He takes their drink orders, and walks away. He finally comes back, takes our food orders, and the problems just keep mounting…
I had asked on the phone when I booked, do they have vegetarian options? “Yes, we do great salt and pepper squid, and there’s a few veggie choices on the menu”. But when we ask for the squid, the waiter nods, does a back take, heads to the kitchen, and comes back with a rueful, “Sorry, the squid we have the chef wouldn’t serve to you.” He nods his head, as if we are supposed to be in on the secret. WTF?
Waiter doesn’t make it clear to those who order burgers that chips are definitely included, and they order chips extra (the lighting was dim). Between three of us, we order the Pit Boss Selection, which is supposed to feed 2. At $70, it reads Pork Ribs, Beef Rib, Pulled Pork, Beer Can Chook, (a big smoky leg that needed sauce), Beef Brisket, Beef and Cheese Sausage, Corn Bread, Slaw and Potato Salad.
Whew! Others order the Smoked Beef Burger, $18, a Bean Burrito, $15, a Mushroom Burger $16, and a Steak Sandwich, $19. By this time, we’ve downed our first beers, but Waiter strolls off before we get a chance to ask for more… And by this time, the table is getting messy, but Waiter never thinks to carry both ways. To and from the kitchen is the idea – he doesn’t get it.
My dad always used to laugh if we couldn’t catch a waiter’s eye, and say “Hah! He’s been to waiters’ school!”. He would have said our guy this night had a degree from waiters’ school. The waiter doesn’t even see the empty cans, glasses and paper on our table, and remains resolutely ignorant of the mess.
But what about the food, you say? What about the food? Well the ribs were spectacular – tasty, tender, terrific sauce, but the rest? Dry and a bit tasteless. And coming out with a small plastic tub of commercial barbecue sauce was not good enough. Served on cardboard, and the potato salad and slaw, both in little cardboard buckets, which gave everything a bland, papery taste, fell far short of expectations.
It’s not hard to make a dynamite potato salad, and slaw, with lots of good vinegar, seasoning, and greens with the dressing tossed in while the spuds are still warm so they soak up the flavor. And these weren’t bad, just tasteless.
You know, I get that meat is expensive, the process is long and it is labour intensive to put out a great tender smoky product. But couldn’t their budget stretch to plates? Eating off cardboard in a restaurant isn’t a good look, and it’s messy – very messy. Particularly when the waiter forgets that the table needs clearing more than once during the night.
We tried a couple of the boutique beers in cans, Fox Hat Lusty Lager, $11, and Two Birds Taco, also $11, and they’re tasty, but expensive. And we had to ask for glasses. Holm Oak Pinot Gris at $10 was okay, and a Grey Sands Merlot blend at $12 for a small glass? Expensive. Cheapest wine by the bottle? Holm Oak Rose Moscato at $48 – and not something I’d drink with this food.
All up, not bad, but not good either, without the spectacular pork ribs with a cracking sauce, I’m afraid this new kid on the block would not have rated a mention. So Rib people, could you please train your waiters to carry both ways, to anticipate diners’ needs, and work on the recipes for slaw and potato salad that let the rest of the meal down.
And for goodness’ sake, can you stretch to plates? Should that be too much to ask? The mess we left on the table told the whole night’s tale.
The Tickled Rib
245 Elizabeth Street
Hobart Tas 7000
Ph: 6231 5699
Okay readers, are you on par with my experience? Have I been too harsh? And is it an issue with you dealing with untrained staff, who let the entire team down?