Visited 3 Notch'd Griil for the first time with my wife, based on her previous experience. She said it was a must try. For me the jury is still out.
Called ahead for reservations between 6:30 and 7, was told they don't take any for less than 6, but if we got there closer to 6:30, there would be little problem getting a seat, as they can squeeze a party of two in very easily.
We got there at 5:55 and it was obvious the the restaurant was slammed. We were told it would be a 40 minute wait. Since we'd made the drive and there are few choices for decent dining in Crozet, we decided to go for it.
As we knew we would order wine with dinner, we ordered a bottle, a nice Italian red very reasonably priced at $26/bottle, and each had a glass while we waited 35 minutes to be seated. Unfortunately, the bar was full, and there is limited waiting, so we stood in the bar area, trying to stay out of the servers way, drinking our wine and taking in the surroundings.
Quaint decor, with lots of photos from Nat'l Geographic award winning photographer Bill Allard, who is a local. Wooden booths, a little tight (obviously to squeeze in more seats), with some other wooden tables scattered about. Frankly the wooden seats got a little uncomfortable as it took almost two hours for us to eat.
Finally, seated, we quickly ordered an appetizer, knowing the kitchen would be slammed, and most likely our dinner would take awhile. We were right. It took almost another 40 minutes from the time we ordered our entrees for them to arrive.
We asked if one appetizer was enough, and the waitress assured us it would be as the main courses were large portions and would be filling. Based on that recommendation, and the fact we also got salads with dinner, we ordered just one quail stuffed with chevre and mushrooms. Good flavor, but the quail was dry and a bit overcooked, and little if any stuffing was present. Somewhat disappointing.
For the salads, my wife had the roast beet salad with an upcharge, which was flavorful and very good, and I had the house salad, which was well, mediocre. Nice mixed greens with a decent balamic vinagrette, but then they only added two small cherry tomatoes and three pieces of red onion. Could easily have thrown on some crumbled cheese, blue or feta, along with some toasted nuts and croutons to make a markedly better salad...
For the main courses, my wife wanted the beef tenderloin while I had decided on the stuffed trout. The stuffed tround was sold out and so I settled for the duck breast in a ligon berry reduction. As above, it took almost 40 minutes from the time we ordered until we were served. Fortunately, we had our salads and wine to keep us occupied.
On the positive side, our waitress came by three times to assure us our entrees were on the way, but when the main courses came, they were far from bountiful. Call them European portions, which are frankly more healthy, but were a bit disappointing based on the waitress' description.
My wife's tenderloin was delicious and cooked perfectly medium rare. The demi glace sauce was very tasty. My duck was, well disappointing. The waitress recommended rare, I said medium rare, closer to medium, to ensure the skin was crispy and the fat rendered. The duck arrived... rare. Having already waited the better part of an hour for my meal, I was not going to send it back. Consequently, the meat was soft and chewy and the skin not crispy. The ligon berry sauce rescued the dinner, as it was delicious. Both meals came with what the waitress described as smashed red potatoes. My wife and I both were looking forward to somewhat chunky mashed red potates with some skins visible. Not to be, as the potatoes were just plain old looking (and tasting) mashed potatoes.
Since our dinner portions were somewhat less than described, we still had room for dessert, so we ordered an apple and cranberry crisp with vanilla ice cream. Great flavor, but the top was somewhat over toasted. The ice cream was very rich and had great vanilla flavor.
I believe 3 Notch'd Grill relies on its reputaiton and the lack of competition in and around Cozet, which is interesting, as Charlottesville is only 20 minutes away and has some interesting and delicious restaurants, as does the surrounding wine country. I was also a bit disappointed the waitress didn't make any complimentary offer based on our extremely long wait for our food.
I will try it again in the future, before I write the 3 Notch'd Grill off completely as just another overpriced, over hyped little unique country bistro.
All in all, 3 Notch'd Grill looks promising, but you have to choose carefully. It is unfortunate, as with a little more care and attention to detail, it could be a truly rewarding experience and a great value for the price, and would easily earn 4 to 5 dots. The overall lack of attention, and execution is why it earns only 3 dots.
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