George's Garage (This restaurant is now closed)
737 Ninth Street
Hours: Mon-Fri: 5-10 pm Sat: 5-11 pm
Review Date: January 15, 2000
Reviewers: Terry Otto, Ellen Cassilly, Anna Cassilly, Dilip Barman, David Erb, Chris Friedrich, Tovah Wax, Karen McCullough, Susan Olson, Skip Bartolanzo, Alice Berry, Donna Hughes, Susan Peterson, Dave Peterson, Kathy Marx
We had a great turnout for the dinner at George's Garage.... too bad the overall experience was not great. Offhand, it looks like it could be an interesting place, although I can't really imagine it ever being anything but noisy, since part of it is essentially a sports bar. It has a small bakery section which offers dessert items. However, the bakery does not stay open as long as the restaurant, so it was closed by the time we were done with our very lengthy dinner. I called ahead to make sure that they offer vegetarian entrees and at least one vegan entree, which they do offer, but the selection is very limited. Overall, George's Garage is not a restaurant that caters to vegetarians, and most of what they do offer in the way of vegetarian items is very dull. Several reviewers had much higher opinions of the food than I did, but quite a few of us were not impressed at all.
I think it is worth commenting that we had a very large crowd, and we had reservations for twelve (fifteen showed up), but George's Garage was in no way prepared to handle a crowd that large. I doubt that the three extra people made that much of a difference. It took over an hour for the appetizers to arrive; some people got their appetizers at the same time as their entree; and some of the side dishes and salads never arrived. It took three hours to complete our dining experience. It was a good thing that they brought plenty of tasty bread (unfortunately for vegans, the bread contained eggs). To their credit, they were willing and able to write separate checks. They originally added an 18 percent gratuity to all the checks, but later removed it (without being requested to do so), so we were free to add whatever tip we wished.
There were two vegetarian entrees, Penne Pasta ($7.95), and Fettucine with Wild Mushrooms in Cream Sauce ($8.95). The vegan entree was Cous Cous with Grilled Vegetables ($11.95). There were no daily specials (at least not for vegetarians).
Two people ordered the Fettucine. One commented, "unusually good sauce," and the other person said that the mushrooms had been burned, and the sauce had a burnt flavor. I had a small sample of it, and agreed that it might have been burnt a little, but it did taste good to me. Five people ordered the cous cous dish, although one person substituted angel hair pasta for the cous cous. Comments were, "this dish was supposed to have roasted and grilled vegetables, but they were steamed - blech...the sauce wasn't good and may even have had butter," and, "extremely bland sauce which did not taste good, poorly steamed vegetables that were supposed to have been grilled -- a real disappointment." The only comment about the Penne Pasta dish was that "for the price, a salad should have been included but wasn't."
The rest of the group pieced together a meal with side dishes or appetizers. The Spinach & Cheese Dip arrived lukewarm, but was fairly tasty (nothing special, though). The Glazed Yams were also served lukewarm, and had a tinny taste, as if they were canned. The Vegetable Antipasto was "quite good," and "well prepared - good vinagrette dressing." The Simply Salad was expensive at $4.50 for greens and dressing. The Black Beans, Spinach with Garlic, and Rice were all described as "good." The other side dishes that were ordered (and that actually arrived) are described in the following paragraphs. I thought the descriptions from one of the reviewers were so creative they deserved their own paragraphs.
Garlic whipped potatoes - "were disappointing. The presentation was unappetizing and could easily have been dressed up even by a slight garnish, instead of being presented as an amorphous brown-speckled beige mass. The flavor was acceptable, but I was quite surprised; the best mashed potatoes I've ever had were from Parizade, but George's potatoes can easily be surpassed with a normal effort at home."
Vegetable rolls - "I don't tend to like Chinese food, and ordered the vegetable rolls in rice paper not thinking they might be like Chinese eggless egg rolls. In defense, I was turned off because I had such a limited selection - all the pasta had eggs, for example, so I thought I'd order a few side dishes - so vegetable rolls stuck out. The rolls were not bad, but not something I'd have again - though that is pointless, as I doubt I'll eat at George's again. The skin was surprisingly tough and one of them had a large accumulation of hardened dough on one end, with no filling there. The presentation was attractive."
Other miscellaneous comments were about the cigarette and cigar smoke drifting over our way, and that the restaurant was understaffed for a Saturday night. Also the menu was misleading - pastas and vegetarian items were grouped together, but one of the pasta entrees had fish with it. The waiter was very courteous, although sick, and this made some people uncomfortable. I think he was doing his best considering that he was sick and the restaurant was understaffed. Upon entering the restaurant, there is a smell of fish in the air.
My recommendation for vegetarians is to not bother with George's Garage, unless you can tolerate noise, long waiting times, limited selection, and mediocre food.