Our second installment of the IT Challenge didn’t take place in Indian Trail. We made a last minute substitution for one of our IT restaurants to go to Bibi – a Beautiful Taste in Downtown Monroe. Why you ask? Mostly because the weather was nice and we wanted to dine al fresco. Also, there are Bibi’s fantastic Facebook status updates about their specials:
And even though they have a small dining room, this is where you get to eat if the weather’s nice:
I wish we could give this place a resounding thumbs up, but there are a few things going on that bother us. It has all the elements that we look for in a restaurant: locally owned and operated, great food, craft beer…but there’s something about it that keeps us from coming back on a regular basis. But more on that in a minute. First, the good stuff:
Battered and fried cauliflower tossed in an Asian barbecue sauce. I’m still questioning why I only began liking cauliflower when I turned 30, but no matter…this is delicious. My slight critique of it is that the sauce can make the cauliflower a little soggy – I think I would definitely ask for it on the side next time.
Jason’s entrée was a crabcake salad with goat cheese. No complaints:
He also got a side of truffle mac & cheese. I helped him with it…
I had the pretzel chicken with caramelized onion mashed potatoes. There was also a side salad with orange tarragon dressing – but I flaked and didn’t get a picture. Normally this comes with seasonal veggies.
Sadly, we were too full to order dessert. I’m sure those are fantastic here.
So why aren’t we regulars? In one word: service. We had three different servers over the course of our meal. All were super sweet, but none seemed to have a clue as to what they were doing.
They had a particularly hard time with craft beer. The beer menu here is impressive, considering that you’re in the heart of downtown Monroe, but it didn’t seem that anyone knew a thing about it. I ordered a Second Wind by Mother Earth Brewing and Jason had a Stone IPA. Our first server brought us a can and a bottle, and then looked a little confused when we asked for glasses. But she brought us glasses – that held less than 12 oz. and were coated in ice. It just felt weird.
A European couple was seated near us, and they had questions about the beer menu. They asked the server (a different server from the one who seemed so confused by our beer order) what some of the best local beers were, and she also looked mildly confused and told him “they’re all craft beer.” He ended up ordering a Highland Gaelic without any help from her, but at least he got a glass when she brought his order out.
I’m not going to lie – we felt the prices for the entrees were a bit high – I had chicken and it was $15.50. That being said, the food was really good. But if I’m going to drop $15.50 on a plate of chicken, I’d appreciate if the server who’s taking care of us knows a little about the entire menu, including the beer. I’d also appreciate not being handed off to three servers throughout the meal. It was really disjointed and made it difficult to relax.
Will we be back? Probably. I’ll keep getting the awesome Facebook status updates, and we’ll remember how awesome the food is, and we’ll go back in hopes that someone’s decided to step up and manage the restaurant and train the servers.