Thursday, January 20, 2011

Random Restaurant Review: Number 1 Garfield's Petoskey, MI

This is technically my first review ever of a restaurant, and what a way to open it than with a rather horrible one.

Garfield's is the cheap alternative to Applebee's, and by cheap I don't mean the food (even though some of them are cheap), but the type of theme idea. The entire restaurant has the same type of theme as an Applebee's with random doodads and things on the walls. Very laid back atmosphere… I even spotted an old typewriter, and back bumper for a random car with working lights and a license saying "Garfield's" on it. Each of the tables has a large sheet of paper covering it with some menu item written on them in two crayon colors. They even leave a little cup of crayons for everyone to color and draw whatever they want.
Seating time was pretty quick, but then again by the time my family and I made it there weren't many other people. The other times I've been there were at least 2 people working the front, but by the looks of it tonight there was only one working, and the other never shown up.
Regardless, Tonight I ordered a “Fish and Chips” meal, and a fresh citrus margarita. While my family members ordered a meal deal which included two entrees and two sides for one person. Not full size obviously since it's made for one person. They both chose a steak, and grilled shrimp with the side of a loaded potato/baked potato, and salad.
In all my years of eating out I've noticed that each place tends to do fish and chips differently, and you can tell by the taste and texture, rather easily if you know what to look for, how it was made.
The first thing out were the cokes, and since I ordered an alcoholic beverage it'd be a little while. Now usually when it comes to margarita's the rim of the glass has either salt, or some form of sugar depending on the type of margarita flavor. The picture of my drink even showed salt along the rim. However, one thing it lacked was obviously the salt on the rim. The taste was basically a plain grapefruit flavor and some type of liqueur. I ended up dabbing some salt into my hand and licking it off before taking a sip. However, as much as I thought it'd enhance the flavor, and maybe there were some hidden ones, I realized that it was all for naught as I still only tasted the same stuff... Only a little saltier, this was one of the last things I needed with this meal.
After about a 30 minute wait and 9 tables full in the main area and 3 in the bar we received our meals. My “Fish and Chips” were nice and warm. It came with 4 pieces of what looked like some type of Panko breaded whitefish. Panko is a type of flaky bread crumbs used to coat foods for deep-frying in some Japanese meals. It makes the coating very airy so you can taste a lot more of the food that has been coated. The fries were the correct thickness and cuts as you find in a British fish and chips meal. However, the only problem I had with it was that it was covered in a large amount of season salt. Now don't get me wrong I love season salt. When I was younger I'd eat everything with it, but still I knew to use it in moderation as it is pretty high in sodium. Eating these things made my stomach a little queasy after. Just to help chill it down I had to dunk them into my tartar sauce. There really isn't much to say about their tartar sauce by the way. It was a pretty standard homemade kind. Relish + Mayo + a little squeeze of lemon = Garfield's tartar sauce. The meal even came with a very small amount of coleslaw which also didn't have anything special about it that made it their own… Well other than the fact that the vegetables were cut a little thicker. The fish I had a problem with. With normal whitefish you can taste the very mild flavor of it even if it's been deep-fried. However, with this there was no flavor at all except the slight taste of the new oil they put into their deep-fryer. The next bite I took I covered it in lemon juice to see if that'd help. I still could barely tell I was eating fish. If someone told me I was eating something else I probably would've believed them because it still had no flavor except for the newly added lemon juice. On my 3rd piece I decided it'd be a bright idea to put a few drops of my margarita onto it, and holy shit.... I could finally taste the fish. The flavor of it was just right. I couldn't even taste the oil that had soaked into the Panko. However, the feeling of delight was soon taken away when I just couldn't handle the rest of my meal anymore, but it didn't stop me from trying out a couple pieces of my other family members’ meals.
The grilled shrimp was excellent, but like my chips, had a rather thick taste of season salt. Each of the steaks were cooked to how their respective family members liking, but was extremely peppery which was never mentioned in the menu. So much pepper in fact that my mother who has Gerd to the point where she need two surgeries couldn't eat her meal. (Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). This action can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms.) Even I had trouble eating the small piece of steak I had.
The only real problem with this is that each 2 entree 2 side combo was about $13 ($12.99). However you can tell how tiny this combo is when each skewer (2) of shrimp had 4-5 pieces, and a very small steak served on a rather large green plate. I know this doesn't present a good visual but here is something that'll help you get a visual. Think of a plate with a diameter of about 12 inches, and a circle of about 8 inches inside of it.
12 inches = plate
8 inches = food
Even after eating the food the other two were still hungry. As was I… To the point that I was seriously thinking about getting some dessert, but the thought of them somehow finding a way to incorporate in season salt made me change my mind.

Altogether, the restaurant isn't the best Applebee’s knock off (and when I use this term I don't assume that Applebee’s is better, but you do get a lot more for your money). A meal for about 3 people averages around $40-45. As a note I'm not using tonight’s reference for my final verdict. This is actually about my 5-6th time I've been here because I'm a glutton for punishment. The food quality has always been sub-par, and the different drinks that I get are barely passable except for the ones that aren't hard to mess up (I'm look at you screwdrivers).
If you're a college student at the nearby North Central Michigan College and you want to go to a nearby bar in the winter I suggest coming here. Just try not to get a mixed drink that’s not uncommon.
The service is great. Everyone is very nice, so it's not their fault that I'm giving them such a bad review.
I give this place 4 out of 10.

1301 Spring Street
Petoskey, MI 49770-8720

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