The first thought that crossed my mind when going to review a restaurant is that it will likely be impossible to provide an objective or positive review of a place already condemned.
The people complaining about on Patch : those turned off by the dated decor and lazy presentation of the place and those who detested the food. After dining there with a friend Wednesday night, I'm firmly in former camp.
Walking into Sam's, I was immediately struck by the dull pink tablecloths and, on Wednesday night, immediately confronted with a temperature spike. That's because the air conditioning was out, an employee said, so a fan sat on the floor of the main dining room where just one table was occupied.
We decided to eat outside.
Our casually dressed server was pleasant and attentive, but he quickly made one critical mistake. Excited that the place was going to be on TV, the first thing he told us was that the restaurant would soon appear on "Kitchen Nightmares." He didn't seem to realize that he was part of the "nightmare" that forced the need for a television makeover (or what that might mean for his job).
Other issues of presentation were readily apparent. The men's room was clean enough, but the only hand-drying option was a grungy paper towel roll sitting on a ledge near the sink. A messy stock room was visible through a wide open doorway outside the bathroom.
Luckily, despite some serious appearance issues, my friend and I had few complaints about the food. He had falafel, I had the chicken and gyro plate, and we both enjoyed the meal. The dishes were unremarkable but certainly not unappetizing. The portions were large and we didn't wait long for it to arrive. A basic iceberg lettuce salad preceded the main courses and though the pita bread was a little stale, we ate until we were stuffed and didn't come down with any cases of food poisoning that .
I suspect that when Chef Ramsay arrives he'll start by gutting Sam's and revamping it visually so that diners can enjoy the vast interior space of the place. Getting the staff to dress and behave a little more professionally will also be a priority. And if he can transform the food from pedestrian to memorable, then Sam's--or whatever it's called next--may become a viable place to enjoy one of the world's most delicious cuisines right here in Old Town.
Patch will return to Sam's for the grand re-opening after the makeover, so stay tuned.