So yesterday I went for a bit of a ride on the bike, despite the weather being not so warm (went by the dealer today to pick up some winter gloves… the summer gloves just don’t cut it!) and decided to stop off at a place in High Springs for lunch.
Now, I went in during the lunch rush on a Sunday, so I hit them when they were getting hit by the typical church crowd in their Sunday finest, while I am sitting there in a pair of ripped up jeans and a T-Shirt.
The service seemed to me to be on par with that of a diner, despite the decor of the restaurant. Really, the place is beautifully decorated, and really I figure it was a chain or something given the amount of cash that has gone into setting the place up. Oddly, it is a one-shot place. There must be about $30,000 invested in just canoing equipment hanging from the rafters alone in the place.
Back to the service… I walked into the door and was somewhat ignored. Watching throughout my time there, the host was very lax in his job to greet guests and escort them to their seats… I blame this partially on the design of the entryway, whose view from the rest of the restaurant is blocked by a partition, so none of the servers can see people when they walk in.
I was waited on by Kayla, a nice southern bell who obviously has grown up in the High Springs and Alachua area all of her life. She was nice, and had a good attitude, and knew the menu very well, including the current specials.
For a drink, I ordered the peach iced tea. This was a nicely flavored iced tea, and it was hard for me to discern whether or not it came from a pre-packaged mix or was brewed properly. Regardless, it was quite nice, and I enjoyed two glass-fulls.
For an appetizer I ordered the chicken vegetable soup. It was a good soup, and had lots of chicken chunks in it. I am still not too sure about the corn that was in it, but it tasted fine. I am just not used to seeing corn put into a vegetable soup, I guess. Perhaps it’s a southern thing. The only real comment I could make about the soup is that I felt it needed a bit more salt to bring out the flavors more… but that is just me, and quite frankly I have no problem in adding a bit of salt to something, rather than having it come out to me too salty to begin with. Sure, it is a bit of an insult to the chef to have to salt their food, but this is not exactly what would be considered “High Cuisine” by any means.
For my main course, I ordered the cheeseburger. I think it was called either the “Suwannee” burger or the “Savannah” burger… for some reason I didn’t write down the actual name of the burger… grrr. Anyway, it was your basic cheeseburger, which I ordered with jack cheese. It came with a slice of tomato and a huge slice of red onion (nice touch! It got me wondering what they do with the rest of the onion, because they probably only get about three of these slices of onion per full onion…) along with a piece of lettuce. This was all separated from the burger itself to be added on by the diner, which is how it should be done. The onion was incredible, and really added to the burger. The lettuce was useless, however. It was too big and unmanageable, and slightly wilted. Since it was on the bottom of the vegetable stack, it was also a bit soggy and somewhat unappetizing. The bun of the burger was slightly toasted, which was a nice touch, but I felt that the bun was a bit too small for the burger. There needs to be some amount of overlap of the bun compared to the burger patty, otherwise it is impossible to eat. These buns were the same size as the patty, which made it a bit hard to eat.
Oh yes, there was a pickle spear as well, which I ignored. First of all, I dislike pickles. Second, I couldn’t see how it could be placed on the burger. You would have to eat it like a french fry. Also, pickles are annoying when they are placed on top of other things on the plate, because they have a habit of leaking into those other things and corrupting them. In this case it didn’t, but that is partially because I was quick enough to remove it from the good stuff underneath.
The patty itself was done to perfection. I ordered it medium rare, and that is how it came out, with some bloody juices flowing. It finished cooking right there on the plate so the juices didn’t run too much.
The burger also came with fries, and let me tell you, these fries were incredible. I would go back to this restaurant just for their fries. They fry them in some sort of flavored oil that makes them taste incredible. I felt there was no need to add salt or anything else to them, and that they could be eaten just as they were. I did try them with a bit of catsup as well, but really they did not need it at all.
As nice as this place is, I think they need to put more emphasis on their service. It is too nice a place to have a diner-level service. Things may be different at night, but for lunch that is the feel that I got from it. One other thing that annoyed me… the booth that I was seated in had a light to the side… unfortunately this light was placed a bit too low, and the bulb in it was distinctly visible to me (I’m only 5’11”, so it wasn’t as if some tall freak had sat there…) and caused me to be slightly blinded.
I would go back to this restaurant, if I happened to be passing through High Springs at the right time. I think I would first explore and see if there is anything else out there really quickly first, but I would consider this to be a place to fall back on for a meal if nothing else felt appetizing. There is a Mexican restaurant just down the road that I feel warrants a try sometime, but for meat and potatoes types of meals, the Great Outdoors Restaurant in High Springs is a decent choice.