Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Restaurant Review, Tavern in The Square, Burlington, Massachusetts, A disaster

Frequently, my wife and I take a drive down to Burlington, Massachusetts to shop at the Burlington Mall. Those who live in the area are probably familiar with the dining establishments close by and we've found there's not a whole lot to choose from. We aren't a fan of most of the options in the mall so a few months ago we were excited to see the sign for a new tavern that was opening soon.

Tavern In the Square is actually a group of six restaurants and bars throughout Massachusetts with the newest in Burlington. With their latest, they do have a great location near the mall but that seems to be the only thing it has going for it.

We arrived on a recent weekend to a packed parking lot, I guessed that they would be busy given that they had just opened. Surprisingly there was no wait and we were seated quickly. I had a good feeling about this initially. The bar area has a number of large screen TV's which would be great to watch your favorite sporting event. The restaurant side decor is one of a lot of dark brown tones throughout with a large bar and a number of tables and booths.

After reviewing the menu for a bit I thought that everything looked great. They had what seemed like interesting appetizers such as truffle tater tots, mahi mahi tacos, risotto fritters and fried pickles along with wings and tenders. Dinner choices included comfort foods like sandwiches, burgers, chicken parm, home style meat loaf and a few different varieties of mac & cheese. How could we go wrong?

Our waitress recommended that we try the nachos for our appetizer so we ordered them without jalapeños and guacamole. On dinner we thought it would be a no brainer and requested the Philly steak mac & cheese. It's a good thing we decided on dinner without the input from our waitress because the ONLY thing she had tried on the whole menu was the nachos. This should have been our clue to get the heck out.

I did notice while we were waiting that the table behind us was having a problem. Our waitress kept apologizing for what I have no idea. This was foreshowing that I missed. In hindsight I should have realized that we were in trouble.

So our order of nachos arrived and they had jalapeños everywhere. Our waitress kept telling us we were wrong but we were not, as I sampled one to be sure and it was a jalapeño. Anyway, they ended up making the nachos four times until they finally got it right. Looking back on this now it is almost laughable but to add insult to injury they were terrible. The chicken ruined the appetizer as it was too dry and almost inedible.

We were excited to try the Philly steak mac & cheese and sadly when it arrived was no better than the nachos. Mine had very little if any steak and both of the servings were bland. It was as if they were thrown together with no thought as to how they would taste.

The service was poor and I can't completely blame our waitress because I think it has more to do with training and food quality. After the first mistake with the nachos the manager should have made sure that the next one was correct and did not. The wait staff should sample all of the menu items so they can make informed recommendations to their customers. That said, if the food is bad it won't make any difference. What's worse, 3/4 through the meal we ended up with a new waitress with no communication from a manager as to what was happening.

Unfortunately I can't recommend the Tavern in the Square. It was a disaster and one of the worst experiences I have had at a restaurant in a long time. You should avoid this restaurant until the problems are fixed. It would appear that the Tavern in the Square is growing too fast. Perhaps they should slow down and not open any new restaurants. Instead focus on making sure that your current restaurants and bars are serving quality food and providing excellent service before moving forward with any additional expansion.