Tom + Chee Mushroom & Swiss Grilled Cheese Sandwich on Gluten Free Bread
As someone who has to eat a gluten free diet for health reasons and happens to have a daughter who has the exact same fate, I’m powerfully drawn to restaurants that “cater” to the gluten free crowd.
When I read about a chain restaurant or an locally owned restaurant that it “cool enough” to offer gluten free bread and has a great selection of gluten free options, you can count on one thing: I WILL check them out.
When Tom + Chee opened a restaurant in Evansville, I was beyond excited to pay them a visit. Yes, this is a Kentucky blog and yes, I write primarily about Kentucky restaurants – but I also love to write about restaurants that are writing driving distance.
Last night, Michael and I were in Evansville around suppertime and thought Tom + Chee would be a deliriously fun place to enjoy a meal together.
Remember that phrase, “enjoy a meal together” for future reference.
First things first: First impressions matter. When entering a restaurant, the first person who speaks to you sort of sets the ambiance for the restaurant. For this particular restaurant, this is not a good thing. We talked about it later and I honestly cannot remember the last time I encountered such a rude, surly, genuinely unpleasant individual in a restaurant!
The girl at the cash register was the epitome of what you’d want your employee NOT to be. I watched as she treated each person who came in after us the same way. I thought, “Whew, it wasn’t just us she hated.” Restaurants would really help themselves a lot if they’d tell their workers to smile and greet their “guests” as though they’re happy to see them.
Heck, tell them to fake it if they have to.
Okay. That was the bad. Now the ugly (then we’ll wrap up with the good, to end on a good note).
Absolutely Delicious Tomato Soup – DELICIOUS
We sat down with out table number. My husband was brought his grilled cheese sandwich after about 6 or 7 minutes. The young man said mine would be out in a minute.
20 minutes later, mine had not shown up. Yes. 20 minutes. Remember when I said we thought we’d enjoy a meal together? Naturally, I told my husband to go ahead and eat because cold soup and a cold sandwich are disgusting.
After the 20 minute mark, Michael went up to the counter and asked if I could expect my meal any time soon. A woman came out, apologized and said, “He burned your’s and is having to make another one!” I’m not sure where in the 20 minute process the burning took place, but it’d have been pretty cool to have been told about it.
Anyway, her initial proposal was to just refund that part of the order and send me on my way but I told her I was hungry and would prefer to actually eat. A few minutes later, she came out with my sandwich and, after I told her that I’d also ordered soup, she brought that out as well.
Have you ever tried to eat a meal leisurely when your dinner companion has already enjoyed their meal? Yeah… not a lot of fun.
What’s frustrating is that I wouldn’t have batted an eye if they’d walked out to our table and told us my sandwich had been burned. Big deal! Accidents happen. Honestly, I would have just laughed and thanked them for telling me and waited for a fresh one – hopefully served at the same time as my husband received his meal.
But to allow us to sit there for 20 minutes wasn’t cool. Not for a sandwich – especially for one that didn’t even involve meat.
And they weren’t even busy!
Seriously, when we walked in, there were three other tables with guests. Another table had a man and a few other workers folding what looked like Tom + Chee t-shirts. I kept thinking, “Leave those t-shirts and go help make my sandwich. Someone can’t figure this part of the process out!”
Tom + Chee Sandwich and “Dipper”
Okay. Let’s get to the good. First of all, the woman who apologized and finally brought my food out was very friendly. I appreciate that she apologized. The decor was bright and friendly (no comment) and as clean as a whistle.
As for the food, the gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are a little pricey, but they are really, really good. There are lots of choices available and I absolutely LOVE that they offer gluten free bread.
The menu is fun, the restaurant’s decor is fun, and even the Tom + Chee website is fun. In fact, from what I’ve seen, the entire Tom + Chee culture is fun, upbeat, and very colorful. As of now (I’ll preface it that way, because things can change), the Evansville location does not mesh up with the expectations. I hope that they’ll iron out the kinks and learn from their mistakes.
I’ll give them this – the soup was out of this world good. It was the best dang tomato soup I’ve ever had. EVER. Having a grilled cheese sandwich and piping hot tomato soup is a killer concept and they were delicious.
But here’s the thing: When you dine out (and pay for the honor of doing so), you’re paying for the experience as much as anything. A meal out should be relaxing, fun, delicious, and enjoyable. Choosing a restaurant is the best compliment you can give to the restaurant… it’s like, “Of all the choices, we choose you!” When rudeness with a side of disappointment happens, the restaurant puts itself in the hole.
They take the “experience” completely out of the equation and leave their guests with one thing and one thing only: Overpaying for food.
That’s not something any of us want to do. Not twice anyway.