Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Can Can in Carytown Redux

cancancarytown.jpg I want Can Can to be my favorite restaurant, I really, really do. Like a lovesick schoolgirl, I’m so taken with its looks and style and most of all, promise, I just want Can Can to love me as much as I love the idea of it. But, sadly, I’m disappointed each and every time. When, I sob inwardly, WHEN are they going to get the service together?? I decided to try lunch on for size and was thrilled to see that the evening crush is non-existent during the day. I had a lovely little table smack dab in the middle of the window so that I could inhale the fresh bread smell and watch passersby through the loaves on the rack next to me. My waitress arrived promptly, took my drink order and returned, again promptly, with my iced tea and nice little basket of delicious bread. I was particularly impressed with the diminutive pitcher of sugar syrup that accompanied my tea. Back in my waitress days, I heard over and over again, ad nauseum, about the impossibility of dissolving a spoonful of granulated sugar into a glass of iced tea (you’d think people could find more trying things to bitch about). So I thought the sugar syrup was a nice touch. While perusing the menu, I was torn between a traditional Croque Monsieur (a fancy grilled ham and cheese), the lobster salad, and the braised lamb sandwich. I finally settled on the lamb; it sounded a little heavy for this particular sunny day—braised lamb with roasted peppers, olives, and caramelized onions—but I was hungry and wanted something out of the ordinary. Surprise! My waitress brought me the braised pork instead. Nor did she offer to bring me the lamb instead when I pointed this out to her. Knowing the fury of cooks when a waitress keys in a wrong order, I didn’t push it. Fortunately, she did remember to bring me the delectable pommes frites (that’s French fries to you plebeians) sprinkled with coarse salt that Can Can is rightly becoming famous for. The pulled pork was pallid and virtually tasteless on focaccia smeared with whole grain mustard. The paltry apple onion jam on top did little to revive it. I tried salt, I tried pepper, but the sandwich remained stubbornly uninteresting. Then I tried the odd-looking, pale yellow slaw next to it. Wow! What fabulous flavor—tangy and spicy with hot mustard, and a few flecks of celery leaves (I found out afterwards that the “slaw” is actually shredded granny smith apples instead of the expected cabbage). I immediately piled this on top of my sandwich and ta da! I saved it! My sandwich was now highly palatable. Except too bad for me, as Junie B. Jones would say, I was getting too full to eat it all. I was even sadder when I realized I was too full (or too guilty for having stuffed myself with food I didn’t really want?) to have dessert. This, for me, is almost unheard of. Although that’s not to say I wasn’t sorely tempted. I dearly wanted to try the Meyer lemon tart or the beignets with cheese filling and white chocolate sauce. Or the chocolate pavé or the profiteroles or . . . it was hard to walk away. I vowed to return for coffee and dessert in the near future. Maybe even tomorrow. I love brasserie food and I think Can Can has filled a real void in the Richmond culinary scene. But damnit, can’t they get the food I ordered to me in a timely fashion, free of wait staff screw-ups? When I was in last for dinner I was appalled by the bar prices that seemed more suited to New York than little ole Richmond ($30 for two Grey Goose martinis and a glass of wine?? C’mon now!). I was even more appalled when I got home, glanced at our receipt and realized that we’d paid the wrong dinner check. My husband had handed the waitress his credit card without looking at the bill because it took so long just to get her attention. Time, as it is for most parents, was of the essence. Our babysitter was about to turn into a pumpkin. Hope springs eternal though, especially in cases of unrequited love, and I know I’ll have to give Can Can another try in a few months (or tomorrow for chocolate pots de crème). However, in the meantime, I’d like to hear about your dining experiences at my favorite/least favorite restaurant. Please avail yourself of the comment section of this post. It would be great to hear a different (or even the same) perspective.


Anonymous Chris said...

I think the food is great but the service does suck.

May 16, 2005 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely.

May 21, 2005 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really think it's just growing pains (and I'll definitely try lunch--I'm sick of the mob at dinner). By the way, you'd think they'd offer something a little lighter at lunch now that it's May!

May 23, 2005 7:55 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

They had a lot to choose from, actually. Check out their menu on their site:

May 23, 2005 8:00 PM  
Blogger nicki said...

Can Can has been at the top of my list to try (we don't get out much with 3 little ones). thanks for stearing me clear.. at least for now. I hope they get their act together because it sound like this spot has huge potential!

May 31, 2005 2:26 PM  
Blogger nicki said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 31, 2005 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Paige said...

Okay, so first I have to say that I loved the Junie B reference. And even a link! Wow! I am listening to Junie B every day, and have been for months now, because my son loves her and listens to her tapes every day at rest time. As for Can Can, I think they put too much effort into the show and not enough into basics. I, too, hope they get it straight because I, too, really want to love this place. And what is with the flourescent lights at night? Have they fixed that yet?

June 01, 2005 9:14 PM  

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