Thursday, April 15, 2010

I wanted to love it.......

but I was surprisingly disappointed! On a particularly rainy, cold-ish day I was craving some warm comfort and thought I could get it from Atwater's in Belvedere Square. I have never been able to go there during lunch because it is always packed with other hungry office workers. So after work I cruised on up through the city and was able to find a parking spot.....surprise!.....and I was happy when I went though the doors and it was barely crowded, instead of the usual sardine-packed jam at the door.

Since I have never been inside, I decided to look around to see what my options were.....I found Sushi (big pass on that...yuk!)which appeared to be fresh and popular with the few patrons that were there. There is also a counter for Neopol Savory Smokery which features smoked delacacies---->

I eventually wandered back where there was a fresh fruit and veggie stand and I saw several people grabbing quarts of what looked like red orange juice. I discovered it was fresh-squeezed blood orange juice. I grabbed up one for myself and also decided to try some of the premium tomatoes on the counter - from Canada called "Kumato"...kinda strange looking brownish thing.....very shiny and pretty though. $8 for the juice and $5 for 5 smallish "Kumatos".

Since my time was limited, I glanced around and saw beautiful meats and any kind of candy you may want offered, but Atwater's was my destination and I really needed some comfortable hotness in my belly.

So back to where I started and I ordered their chicken noodle soup that the girl assured me was "very good". I also picked up a berry crostada which looked amazing under the glass. $6.95 for a "bowl" of soup and $3.95 for the dessert. A little pricey, but I was confident based on all the favorable reviews that it was worth it.

So I schlepped my goods all the way home and was anxious for some culinary comfort.
The soup was in a tiny container, and when I poured it into my soup bowl, it barely filled it at all.....still, I was looking forward to my first taste. Well, it was lukewarm and very I microwaved it for a few seconds and tasted it. It tasted as bland as it looked - dishwater-looking broth, a few long, stringy, hard-to use-the-spoon-with noodles and two pieces of chicken. It was sad....the most positive thing was it was loaded with what looked like fresh sliced mushrooms - I was grateful for that. I added a pinch of salt and some McCormick's "Hot Shot" (black and red pepper) and that lent at least some flavor to the soup.

There was little resemblance to the steaming chicken-y broth goodness that provided such comfort to me over the years - this broth appeared to be nothing but water - there was no hint of any chicken stock at all. The few pieces of chicken were large and tasty, but was really more of a "tease" than actual sustenance. It was supposed to have rosemary, thyme and sage, but I detected none of these flavors.

There was a tiny butt-end piece of bread included.....and it was quite hard. I soaked it in the broth as best as I could, so it was edible...and actually not too bad.

Maybe I got the bottom of the barrel with the soup because it was pretty sad and I can't believe this is the norm here for 7 bucks.

I was still hungry after the tiny bowl of soup and rock-hard bread, so I was anxious to dig into the crostada. Usually, I cannot eat dessert right after a meal, but I was really craving more food.

The crostada was good...a little stale...but good. Worth $4.00?....not really. But at least it satisfied some of my remaining hunger pangs. I thought of the less-pricey pastries at Xia Xia's, Panera or Fenwick Bakery and this did not compare.

So....for almost $12 I was left wanting. Wanting more food for sure. But also, wanting more of a "wow", "OMG, how could I have not been here yet?" kinda moment...but instead, it is more like - OK, I did it and probably won't do it again. Cross Atwater's off my bucket list, for sure.

I have heard that some people are OK with the pricing because they use local products...however, I go to farmer's markets every week and I get huge baskets of tomatoes, potatoes, etc for very cheap. I would think that basic ingredients that go into a soup like chicken noodle would render at least a larger portion, let alone a better-tasting and veggie-laden soup. The prices are borderline offensive. While I was waiting for my soup, I heard another patron order a "whole" so I thought it was a sub-type deal. NOT! They actually sell sandwiches - about $5 bucks for a half and around $9 or $10 for a whole.

Are they kidding? If the bread was huge, I could understand it, but they were so tiny. The chicken salad which is raved about was very thinly spread between the bread. That sandwich was definitely not packing a punch.

So, be warned - you will not get much of a bang for your buck here, but I think the people who patronize this place are OK with it. For every person like me who can find other cheaper and tastier options, this place will be enjoyed by the individuals who like the ambiance and attraction of an "up-scale" market-type experience as well as tourists who don't know any better.

I happen to know too many other places that are more budget-friendly for me and I would be reluctant to travel out of my way again.

I am regretting that I did not skip Atwater's and buy the roasted chicken that was on sale for only $4.99 and a big container of some luscious looking tomato and dill salad that was being offered from one of the meat counters. For less than $10, I would have had a couple good meals.


The best thing I did get? Definitely the fresh orange juice and the high-priced Kumatos.....did not mind spending the money cause both of these were phenomenal.

So, while I would not go back to Atwater's I would go back for the juice!

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