By Pattee Brown | Photography by Bill Millios
As a self-proclaimed recovering restaurateur I decided it wasn’t okay to have restaurants
pay the Gorilla to give them glowing reviews. I think that’s crap, actually. It insults the customer/reader and doesn’t do any good for the restaurateurs who truly want to improve their restaurants.
So, I devised the SECRET GORILLA project. I sent four people to two, randomly selected restaurants in Frederick County, armed with specific review criteria and a score card.
Reservations, host greeting, server competence, house atmospherics, food taste, overall cleanliness and rest room eperience.
The Rating System
Being a GAWD-AWFUL experience, where you fear botulism-poisoning and feel the need to run screaming into the night.
Being an ICKY experience, where you think prison inmates have a better dining experience than the unlucky customers of this place.
Being “MEH,” where you didn’t think the experience sucked, but you didn’t think it was noteworthy, either. Middle of the road at best.
Being PRETTY GOOD, where you genuinely enjoyed the experience and would love to come back with friends and family.
Being an “UN-FREAKIN-BELIEVABLE” experience, which drives you to dine nightly at the place, consider taking up residence with the chef and worry that you might be “de-friended” on Facebook for possible fan page stalker tendencies.
Here’s what happened…
Mick’s New American Bistro
at 207 West Patrick Street in Downtown Frederick
The score that Mick’s received was a 3.2 Bananas – “MEH”. 3.20
I have to admit that Mick’s review wasn’t very glowing. There were many more negative comments than positive ones. If I owned Mick’s, my first order of business after reading this feedback would be to teach my staff the importance of attentive, professional, customer service. That’s the dining experience variable that the whole floor staff can contribute to. Apparently, great food and inferior service equals “Meh!” Here are some of the pros and cons that were mentioned..
PRO: “The person who answered the phone was friendly.”
CON: “Though friendly, the person who answered the phone sounded slightly annoyed.”
PRO: “Menus were in good condition and house cleanliness was adequate.”
CON: “About thirty minutes into our meal a screaming, unsupervised child was running through the dining room doing whatever she wanted. Free Range Child at a restaurant—not cool!”
PRO: “The Women’s room didn’t smell bad and didn’t appear dirty.”
CON: “The woman’s room is too small for two stalls—big breasted women should avoid the second stall to the left.”
PRO: “Had the Crab Croquettes. They were excellent.”
CON: “The Crab Croquettes were memora- bly awful, icky. Nothing was visually appealing about them. They put me off actuallythe ham gave off a flavor I could only describe as dirty little feet.”
PRO: “The food at Mick’s is great. Cooked fresh and made to order”; “I’d give the restaurant a 5.0.”
CON: “Forgettable—no “wow” factor and honestly I don’t care to go back there again.”
Morgan’s American Grill
11717 Old National Pike in New Market
The score received by Morgan’s was a 4.05 Bananas – Pretty Good! 4.05
While reading through Morgan’s reviews, it was clear that the business has a top notch staff and knows how to please their patrons. Most of the comments from our Secret Gorillas were positive about both the food and the general experience there. They all seemed to agree that Morgan’s was a good place to eat and one they’d recommend to their friends and family. “Pretty good” job to the Morgan’s team! Here are some of the pros and cons that were mentioned:
PRO: “Our server did a great job. Sara was very professional and courteous. When she didn’t know something about the menu, she went directly to the chef for the answers.”
CON: “The bartender was crabby and un- friendly.”
PRO: “The décor was upscale, clean and inviting. Two fireplaces added to the rooms ambiance.”
CON: “Voices carried, and it was loud in the dining room. It was like a loud diner.”
PRO: “The Chicken Chesapeake was well presented and moist, with just the right amount of smoky flavor. The Crab Imperial was fresh; its cheese was perfectly melted and the portion sizes were very generous.”
CON: “Nothing unique about the menu. No great artistry in the food or presentation.”
PRO: “My overall rating of this restaurant was bordering on “Un-freakin-believable,” given the location, the price and the selection.”
CON: “The menu doesn’t feature any locally grown items—and nothing ‘organic’ is used. When I inquired, I was told, ‘we’re not that kind of place.’”