The Hushpuppies tasted even worse than they looked!
When writing on Genuine Kentucky (or any of my other websites for that matter), I prefer to concentrate on the positive. By nature, I am the Mary Poppins type. You know, the one who almost always SEES the positive and OVERLOOKS the negative. I’m also not a complainer. If you hear me complain or imply that something is bad – or worse, hideous – you can write it down: The thing in question was beyond horrible. It probably borders on dreadful if I say something unkind.
For years, I approached my Kentucky Restaurant Reviews this way: If we enjoyed a restaurant experience and like their food, I’d write about it. If we didn’t, I’d delete the pictures from my camera and the memory from my mind. In essence, I pretended it never happened.
I’ve done this with quite a few restaurants, actually.
However, a recent experience made me question this approach. If we had found recent, completely trustworthy reviews for a restaurant we ate at a few days ago, it’d have saved us money, time, effort, an unpleasant experience, and… if I’m being perfectly honest… a stomach doing flip flops. It made me think, whenever I have a hideous experience, I should let my readers know. Sort of warn them, you know? I think it’s also good to warn the owners of restaurants as well – let them know what’s going on behind closed kitchen doors.
Here come the warnings for all.
My husband and I ate at a restaurant in beautiful downtown Lexington called Ramsey’s. My husband had eaten there about 10 years ago and remembered it being extraordinary.
What a difference 10 years makes.
First of all, the positive. The restaurant looks cool. It’s in a really old building and retains the charm of an era you can’t help but love. The decor was cool and I loved the UK t-shirts on the servers! The fact that there was a UK game that night made me even more excited about eating downtown. The energy is always electric.
Speaking of servers, our server was a sweetheart. She was a lovely little blonde with big blue eyes. She had an upbeat, sweet, warm, and infectious personality. I thought to myself, “If the food’s just half as great as she is, this will be an experience to remember!”
- The food wasn’t even 1/18 as great (or lovely) as she was.
- It was, indeed, an experience to remember – but not in a good way.
Another positive: The butter served with the basket of crackers (yes, crackers) was good. Very good butter. Oh, and the plates. The plates the food was served on were pretty. They deserved a better fate.
Let’s see… the tea was very good too.
Now for the negatives.
First of all, as all good Mary Poppins would do, allow me to say that we were there on the day after Thanksgiving. It’s entirely possible that the regular chef was given the weekend off. That, of course, would be an insane approach, because on a weekend such as this you’d have people in your restaurant who had never eaten there before. This would be your one shot at impressing them.
Heck, one of them might even write Kentucky Restaurant reviews. Boom.
If the regular chef WAS off, it was a crazy mistake. However, it’d at least explain the food. Per chance, if he/she is ever allowed off again (frankly, I wouldn’t chance it), it’d be best not to pull in someone off the street to replace them next time.
Just put up the CLOSED sign.
The crackers and butter. Okay, packages of crackers served with a little side of butter is cute. However, for the prices charged, a little more than cute could be expected.
The fried catfish. In a baffling turn of events, my piece of fried catfish had absolutely no flavor. In fact, flavor wise, it was in the negative column. It took any flavor that was in my mouth and cancelled it out. If you read this catfish addict’s reviews, you know I never put anything on catfish (salt, pepper, tartar sauce, lemon…) because I just want it to be me and my catfish. At Ramsey’s, I tried all 4. When my husband saw me salt it (my first weapon of choice), he said “Uh Oh.” Then when he saw me go for the tartar sauce, he knew. No. Taste. At. All.
I will allow that, compared to a few of the other items on our plates, the catfish had the right idea. No taste is better than bad taste.
The hush puppies. Folks, we have a winner. These were the worst hush puppies I’ve ever had. Burned on the outside, yet doughy and undercooked on the inside. Someone hadn’t a clue what they were doing. When I took a bite (like a dummy), it was the first time EVER I looked around for a napkin to spit my food into. I only had the one in my lap, so I had to follow through and swallow the horrible bite – a decision I was certain would land me in the ER. Or grave.
The apple fritters. Overcooked. Bad. Very little flavor, and what was there was disappointing.
Fried Okra. They tasted more like bacon than okra – overcooked bacon. Like someone took okra (which had been on the vine too long), coated it and threw it in a pan of bacon grease. Bam! Done! Plate it!
Fried Green tomatoes. Less offensive than the rest. They weren’t really bad, but they did have a hint of the overcooked bacon flavor the okra had. They pulled it off better than the okra did, I’ll give them that.
Pork with Red Sauce. When Michael saw me struggling to find something to give flavor to my catfish, he said, “You think that’s bad, try this.” He gave me a bite of the pork and, he was right, it was hideous. The sauce was bad and the pork was probably the worst pork I’ve ever had.
Cornbread stick. Dry, bad, dry, bad, dry, bad… The cornbread stick tasted like it was about 3 months old.
Macaroni and Cheese. Michael told me to take a bite and asked, “Is that the worst mac and cheese you ever had or what?” It was one of the two worst macaroni and cheeses I’ve ever had. It just tasted bad… pretty much like everything else. How do you muck up macaroni and cheese, guys? Seriously, there aren’t enough ingredients to get very far off course. And yet….
Pinto beans. Bad. Not much flavor.
Carrots. Ugly and hideous. Why put mustard on carrots? A desperate attempt to give them some sort of a flavor other than carrot? If you’re desperate to switch up something’s flavor, I saw a table full of other candidates. They’d have been better off putting raw carrots on the plate.
Let’s put it this way, at the end of the meal, I realized that the crackers and butter were the highlights.
Experiences like this make me sad. Not because we wasted money and time at a restaurant when we could have gone to another one instead. It’s not that. I have enough sense to know that when you eat out, it’s a 50-50 shot. You’re just as likely to have an experience like this as you are to have a great one.
Here’s what makes me sad. I have an overflowing amount of pride in Kentucky. When people visit us from neighboring states or from states far away, I want them to have the best food, the best service, and the best experiences they ever had. I want them to go back home with compliments pouring out of their mouths about our beautiful state.
If anyone had eaten at this particular restaurant on this particular day, Kentuckians would’ve been the butt of endless jokes when they went back home. They’d say things like, “Kentuckians don’t know how to cook!” or “Mustard on Carrots and Crackers with Butter… Kentucky logic!”
But I don’t just hate it for out of state diners, I hate it for those around the state who come to Lexington for Cats games. When people from Madisonville, Kentucky travel all the way to Lexington, I want them to be able to have a great time and great food. There was a Cats game on the day we were there. Heaven help the fans who chose to eat at this particular restaurant.
The thought of a restaurant taking someone’s hard-earned money and not giving them a dinner that’s worthy is depressing.
As I’ve said before, you should give your guests your A game each and every night. You never know how far someone has traveled to eat at your restaurant. You never know how many people they’ll share their experience with. If it is a case of a stand-in cook (which I’m only guessing.. in an attempt to explain food that seemed unfathomable), why chance it? If your back up is this bad… again, just put up the Closed sign.
(Final thoughts below the picture…)
There are other Ramsey’s locations in Lexington. In fairness to them, I thought I’d remind you that it was the Ramsey’s Diner downtown Lexington that was a nightmare for us.
I apologize for having to write such a negative review. However, it was such a distasteful (literally) experience for us, I simply wanted to spare anyone else the same fate. Look at the ugly carrots above. That, dear readers, summed up the entire experience. When our daughters were little, if they thought something was ugly or disagreeable, they’d yell, “GROSS!!!”
When we left the restaurant, I heard their voices…. in unison… in my mind.