How I will do this is covered in ‘About.’ Since today is a restaurant review, I want to go over my specific personal ROE (rules of engagement).
- I am doing this to tell you about places, not to rate them. If it was a bad experience, it will not be here. We have Yelp and others for that.
- I read reviews and on line web pages (especially menus) before I go. I recommend that, especially the one star reviews. Then, I go anyway. They are frequently not the same as my experience. I don’t usually write reviews, but if I see one that I think may be unfair, I write one to balance it.
- Big deals for me are quality of food (within reason), cleanliness of the facility to include restrooms, adequacy of service (I’m not a perfectionist), variety of drinks (dark beer is not yellow and you can’t make a margarita without tequila), comfort, noise-level, parking, staff knowledge, and internet site accuracy (are you as you claim to be?).
- Having spent the past few years of my life (prior to retirement) in quality assurance, I’ve developed a philosophy that ‘good’ is good enough, excellent is often BS, and better than that is either a lie (e.g., desserts that claim to be better than sex), manipulation, or both.
My first restaurant review is of Jay Berry’s Café in Renton, Washington. Renton is south of Seattle and short ride from the Sea-Tac Airport. But this place is on the northeast edge of town, east of Lake Washington. On-line reviews vary, but most are positive, with negatives possibly being an isolated bad experience or opinion. Parking is adequate, but the lot can get full, causing patrons to park along the roadway.
The main entrance takes you down a narrow hall, past the bar on the left (they call it a lounge, but it’s a bar.). It has a long honky-tonk type bar with approximately 12 stools. There are about nine tables, and three or four televisions. Food is served in the bar. A brief walk through this area takes you out onto the patio seating area, which is good, but on the street (west/sunny) side. The two (clean) restrooms are on the right side of the hallway as is a large ‘specials’ board. The hall is barely a ‘two-butt’ wide walkway, so if you stop to read it, you’re in the way. The waiting area is on benches lining the hall. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner; take reservations; and take-out is available. This is down-scale café with a bar. Shorts with a tank-top and flip flops are an acceptable level of dress – so relax. Besides, general dress code in the Pacific Northwest is usually all casual.
The receptionist area is where the cash register probably was back in the day. The two inside seating areas are separated by two steps (ADA?) with no visible ramp. Some tables are a little close for girthy customers, but it’s manageable. Ambiance is comfortable and ok, but should be a ready for a little rehab soon. Most tables seat four, but can be moved to accommodate larger parties. There are no booths. The acoustics are average and loud voices are easily heard.
We requested and were shown to a table in the lower area. The server was there asking for drink requests before we sat down. I always ask the same question if we are having dinner, “What is the darkest beer you have, preferably on draught?” I picked Mac & Jack’s African Amber. It is a locally brewed amber ale I find acceptable. My wife ordered water.
The server explained some things regarding the pasta and we ordered a Greek salad and Spaghetti Alfredo (they did not have fettuccini). The wait staff was energetic and service was almost too fast. They are a little blunt and straight-up for some customers, but I think it fits the charm and atmosphere of the restaurant. While I’ve had better salads, it was ok. My wife thought the alfredo white sauce was subpar. The waiter boxed up her leftovers. I tried it the next day and found it on par with what comes in a jar from the store.
Jay Berry’s is proud of their pizza. But I think their strength is breakfast and their special drinks. Check out the menu. The special cocktails with breakfast are a big hit. The breakfast menu is comprehensive. That is when larger crowds show up. Lunch is good, too.
I will be going back. I recommend Jay Berry’s to anyone looking for a family-friendly, laid-back café with a nice ‘honky-tonk’ bar (when the Seahawks are playing, it’s busy). If you are in Seattle, it may be a bit far. Be sure to check out the menu on-line and their specials – especially the breakfast drink specials (mimosas anyone?). I never make reservations, but they do take them. Calling ahead can get you to the front of the line when you arrive.
Excuse me, are you gunna eat that? May I try one of your fries? How’s that pizza? What’s your favorite adult beverage?