During a recent, very long business trip to Toledo I went to Zia’s at The Docks for lunch. Having had a very long string of painfully repeatative meals, I wanted something a little nicer.
I arrived on a Sunday for lunch and was promptly seated. The restaurant was not empty neither was it as crowded as I had anticipated. My waiter took the drink order, a bottle of San Pellegrino Lemon, provided a menu, and apprised me of the specials. I opted for the eggplant parmesan, Caesar salad and as it was cool outside, a bowl of minestrone soup.
Traveling alone I tend to eat alone so long ago developed the habit of bringing a book. For me there is nothing worse than sitting down to eat, having your meal and being lightened for twenty-five or thirty dollars and as you walk out, realizing you just rushed through what could have been a leisurely and pleasant meal. My books force me to slow down and enjoy my meals.
Soup arrived and was as expected; salad arrived shortly thereafter and was enjoyed. Did I rush, no, I paced myself, this was my first real meal in a while so I wanted to savor the experience.
The attentive waiter cleared dishes and arrived with eggplant parmesan, something I had been craving for several weeks but had not had time available to properly enjoy. I picked up my fork and started to cut in, or at least I attempted to cut into it, hmm, where’s the knife? As I took the first bite, the thought crossed my mind, “I thought eggplant was softer, tenderer than this.”
I finished, but the lingering thought kept crossing my mind that the kitchen had prepared my meal and anticipated that I would rush through soup and salad. Had my meal sat under the light for the last half hour? Really, I did not enjoy the eggplant much at all.
Last week I was at an Italian restaurant near home, ordered the eggplant and found it soft, delicious and more to my expectations and fork manageable, confirming in my mind that the kitchen was indeed responsible for the toughness of my meal.
Using my -2 to +2 scare with zero being average, I would rate the meal as follows. Soup (0), salad, (0), Eggplant (-2), service (-2), ambience (+1). This give us a score of -3 so below average but in all honesty, on a future occasion I would absolutely insist that the eggplant be re-prepared, it was tough and leathery. I believe that while otherwise attentive, my waiter should have taken the initiative and made sure that my main course was not sitting under hot lights (or however they hold food) so that it arrived at the table in as perfect condition as possible.
Would I return? As I do not foresee being in Toledo anytime soon, it is a mute point, but I would try the chain and if they fell short again, no.