Sunday, June 13, 2010

Jonathon Byrd's Cafeteria

In need of a quick lunch on the south side, FLOE stopped in at Jonathon Byrd's Cafeteria.  When we first moved into town 11 years ago, we asked a local for a good place to eat and this was her first suggestion.  We weren't impressed then and are even less so now.

Upon entering, you're greeted with the usual cafeteria line and extra long spread of various preprepared items.  Immediately upon grabbing our trays we noticed the brown lettuce on the salad and moved on to dessert.

It's always struck us as strange that cafeterias put the desserts first. But at least the yummy-looking pies and cakes cleansed our minds from the wilted greens.  Libby chose the chocolate cake and Ozzy immediately pointed towards a very large eclair.  "That one!!!" Fred is never really a dessert person so he chose to pass.  Libby's cake was uninspired and frankly a little stale.  While Fred agreed that Ozzy's eclair looked amazing, Ozzy did little but pick at it until Fred demanded a fork full.  It was indeed all bark and no bite.  The crust itself was hard and flavorless.  The filling was fine but not enough to make up for the overall.

While Ozzy & Libby flew straight past the soup station, Fred decided to make up for dessert with a bowl of their vegetable soup.  It had a cabbage base and a good mix of veggies.  Solid overall.

Next was main courses where Libby opted for the fried chicken and Fred the breaded cod with cocktail sauce.  The chicken was by far the best item we had.  Judging by their geriatric clientele, we had expected it to be bland, but it was nicely seasoned and juicy.  Fred's fish was crispy and artery clogging yet completely unremarkable.  He was thankful that it was served with cocktail sauce to at least give it some flavor as it seemed to have zero on it's own.   Ozzy didn't like the looks of any of the main dishes but was assured that there was indeed mac 'n cheese at the sides station. 

Ozzy picked out his perfunctory side of mac 'n cheese as well as a cornbread muffin while Libby chose the green beans and a baked potato.  Fred, knowing that we'd never get a bite of Ozzy's mac, picked up one for himself as well as a cup of the sweet potatoes.  Ozzy destroyed not only his sides but the second half of Fred's mac 'n cheese.  They definitely know the way to the boy's heart.  Fred's sweet potatoes were cloyingly sweet and heavy on the cinnamon.  Overall it wasn't horrible, but much more a dessert than a side dish. Unfortunately, Libby's sides both went more or less untouched.  The potato was cold and Libby immediately pushed it aside.  The green beans were the typical over-cooked over-salted dish found at every cafeteria.

Before leaving, we took a few minutes to look around at the dining room.  They have obviously not updated the decor in decades.  It felt like we had been eating in a nursing home.  Actually, we've eaten in nicer nursing homes.  We suppose they were going for down-home country, but it was instead just depressing.  Vinyl-covered chairs with dusty, rusty wheels do not add to the ambiance and need to go.  Although Stella did enjoy her old-fashioned high-chair as it was more functional than the standard restaurant ones that are inevitably too short.

Wrap Up
Price-$$, Afforable with large portions. 
Atmosphere-*, We don't recall ever leaving an eatery more deflated than when we arrived. 
Service-***, Above-average service for a cafeteria.  Staff helped with getting Ozzy's tray to the table and came around to refill drinks.

Fred - D-, Jonathon Byrds embodies the worst of cafeterias.  Uninspired warmed-over food reminiscent of your great-aunt's who wasn't the family's best chef.  Combined with a depressing dining room, this does not make for a pleasant dining experience.
Libby - D+, No.  The chicken was good.  But if I want really good fried chicken, decent sides and a home-style meal, I'm going to Maxine's Chicken & Waffles.  The atmosphere was sterile without being clean.  Wiped down surfaces that were still tacky.  Muzak in the background.  Decor that would have been outdated 30 years ago.  Overall just a stagnant feeling.
Ozzy- B, LOVED the mac 'n cheese.  The eclair, not so much.  But dug on mommy's stale chocolate cake.
Estelle-B, She loved the high chair and was, for once, at eye-level with the rest of the diners.  A big upgrade over the standard high-chair.

Jonathon Byrds Cafeteria on Urbanspoon


Amanda said...

Drive south and try Gray Brothers in Mooresville. I work seconds from Jonathon Byrds and won't go near it.

Fred, Libby, Ozzy and Estelle(Stella) said...

Thanks, Amanda...Yeah, I don't know what we were thinking. We're not usually into cafeteria style dining, but if we decide to go that way again, we'll take the trip to Mooresville.

Thanks, FLOE