Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Shaky beginning for New Gastropub Red Raven in Acton, Massachusetts

A few months ago my wife heard of a new Gastropub that was opening in Acton, Massachusetts. If you are not familiar with the concept, this is a pub that serves higher end food and creative drinks. The aforementioned was called Red Raven and we often checked their Facebook page and website to find out when they were opening. After noticing that their Facebook page already had over 1,000 likes before they had served a single customer, I thought that this place must be something special.

Well, days turned into months and we wondered if it would ever open. Finally, a few weeks back we found out that they were in business. A limited pub menu is better than nothing and they expect to open their dining area with a more extensive menu soon.

Through the trees we could see the sign in large letters "Red Raven" across the small pond located in the front of the building. So, we headed towards what we hoped would be a blissful dining experience. No surprise that the building is red and inside has plenty of reminders of Edgar Allan Poe. You walk in and the dining room is front and center, to the left is a large bar area with several tables. The ceilings are high and darkness seems to be the name of the game.

The hostess brought us to one of the high top tables in the back. She was not the friendliest and got our night off to a less than perfect start. The bar menu is small and includes burgers, flat bread pizzas, tacos, boards and wings. I didn't feel like a burger and couldn't decide on anything else on the menu. Our waiter came by next and we ordered up some drinks. They have a large bottled and tap beer selection for all you beer lovers out there. My wife selected the Atta Girl (basically a Cosmo).

Finally as we continued to stare at the menu, we asked our waiter what he thought and he did his best to help. We decided on a mix of appetizers. To begin, bone-in wings and their homemade potato chips.

The wings were good with plenty of meat on the bone and a nice tangy flavor. The chips were disappointing, they were only $3 and no better than something you might buy at the grocery store. Some of the chips seemed stale or at least they tasted like they were.

Next sesame short ribs tacos in the front and the Raven, a flat bread pizza with chicken, figs, bacon, goat cheese and red onions to the rear of the picture.

To be fair I am not a fan of sesame anything or short-ribs so these were not my favorites. My wife thought they were decent so I gave those to her. We both enjoyed the flat bread. It had a slight sweet flavor from the figs.

A little while later my wife ordered another drink, the Smashed. Well, you needed to be smashed to not notice how long it took for the drink to arrive. At first, 10 minutes went by and then 20 and still no drink. It seemed like our waiter had completely forgotten about us. It appeared that he gave my wife’s drink to another table and at the same time he was extremely busy. Finally the drink arrived and he did apologize. She was glad she was able to try this concoction as it was a nice drink for the fall with fresh cranberries, ginger, gin, and apple liquor.

My suggestion to the owners is that they need to be out front talking to guests to ensure that things like this do not happen and to step in when needed. The bar was also backed up and if it is going to take a long time just let your customers know ahead of time. When we got the bill later there were three drinks listed but she only had two so the waiter immediately took the erroneous charge off the bill.

When we found out that there is a pastry chef on staff, we knew that we had to order dessert and we selected the butterscotch pudding. Served in a mason jar, there was a layer of chocolate cake/brownie, butterscotch pudding, and Chantilly cream. Each layer was wonderful on its own but when eaten together it was amazing.

When we left the hostesses continued to be unfriendly. They stared at us as we walked out the door and didn't say thank you. There is no excuse for this, after all they are in the service business.

So there you have it, the Red Raven is off to a shaky start and left us with a few areas for improvement and some pleasant experiences. Work on the service while keeping a watchful eye on the timing and don't forget to talk to your customers. The atmosphere is a fit and although the food was not my favorite the owners should be commended for creativity on the menu. This isn't typical bar food and we are looking forward to a return visit and the additional food options that will be available when their dining room opens in the future.
Red Raven on Urbanspoon