For almost a month, I'd been holding on to a gift certificate to The Hawthorn Grill, which I scored for half price at Living Social. We decided to make good use of it one night when our cupboards were bare, before going Krogering. I'd heard great things about this place from people who actually know what food is supposed to taste like, so I sort of had my hopes up (editor's note: never a good idea). Besides, the price points are a bit steep for our budget ($15-25 per entree), so I was excited to be able to give it a whirl for a reasonable amount. I'd also perused their fall menu online, which had plenty of selections that weren't centered around a bread or pasta, plus plenty of familiar stuff for the, ahem - selective eater in the household. Having done that, I already had a good idea what each of us would be ordering.
We arrived at 7pm, expecting a packed dining room since we had to park in the back lot, but only about half the tables were full. We were greeted & seated quickly, and our server came to introduce herself and get our drink order. She was a very friendly young gal that had an air of experience serving in a higher-end environment, which is a compliment. The same can't be said of some high-dollar joints where your server can't pronounce the wines and can be found conspicuously texting between tables. Speaking of Madison Avenue, Hawthorn Grill had a very different atmosphere than what I had expected. Chef-owned restaurants are usually swank while still being easy-going and hip - like Meadowlark, for example. But, we found this to be more of a hip replacement crowd. We were the youngest folks there until a middle-aged couple brought their children with them. Ever get the feeling like everyone is looking at you like you don't belong, regardless of whether or not you actually do belong? Bingo. Welcome to The Hawthorn Grill, home of old Kettering money.
Mr. FvF went back & forth, but ended up going with the Chicken & Pasta (which is what I originally thought he'd order) - Ed Hill Chicken Breast, cheese tortellini, broccoli and Boursin cream sauce. Naturally, I went for the pig and ordered the White Wine Braised Pork, which was billed as pork shoulder, white wine gravy, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. I also ordered a glass of very forgettable red wine, which was reasonably priced at around $7. When I saw Layer Cake on their list, I was hoping they'd carry the primitivo, but no dice.
Let's start with the photos and go from there. I'll note that these photos are so bad they're barely worth posting. But, this is not the kind of place that one can get away with sneaking a photo, even though I'd brought my good camera. I had to use my phone cam, and the place was very dimly lit.
Below is Mr. FvF's Chicken & Pasta...or is it?
Do you see any tortellini? Broccoli? Cream sauce? You do see chicken and pasta, so they got that part right. There's also some truffle oil, squash, dates or figs (I'm convinced no one knows the difference) and maybe apple.
The problem is, which any woman can verify, that men will usually just start eating whatever you put in front of them, not usually asking questions or considering if their order was right. So, neither of us realized until we left the restaurant that they'd given him the wrong dish entirely. On the way to Kroger I said, "Wasn't that supposed to have tortellini?" My husband thought for a minute, then said, "Yeah. And Broccoli. And Boursin!" I looked at their online menu when I got back home and realized they'd probably given him the Pan Seared Chicken instead. That said, I will tell you that it was beautifully plated and had outstanding flavor. I only had one tiny bite, but tasting fresh pasta makes me curse the gods for my issues with gluten.
Now, on to my dish, and another horrible Sasquatch picture.
Uh, this really wasn't what I was expecting. The plating left a LOT to be desired. Mashed potatoes on the bottom, topped with the veggies, then the pork and gravy. Where have I seen this before? Oh, right! Bob Evans. For $10 less. Everything was so jammed together that it was difficult to taste anything individually. I couldn't tell if the potatoes were any good, or even if the veggies were fresh or frozen. The gravy seemed like your run-of-the-mill beef or pork gravy, devoid of even a hint of white wine. The pork was good. Not outstanding, but good. Kind of hard to mess that part up, though. It was basically pot roast, all tarted up with a steep price tag.
The verdict: The service was great, but the food was not on par with what they're charging and the vibe was downright stuffy. I hope they get some younger diners in there before people start mistaking it for a makeshift Medicare office.
2.5 out of 5 sporks!