My two visits to The Foundry are an example of how service can affect a diner's experience. On the first night, my guest and I sat in the bar. It was a slow Tuesday. The bartender waited on us, and it proved to be a lackluster affair. I complimented the wine list (it's a good-looking list for a mid-range place). "Yeah, thanks." I ordered a bottle. "We're out." I waited for an alternative recommendation or some sort of apology. "You want something else?" We ordered a couple of glasses and ignored him as much as possible. He did become a bit warmer by the end of the night.
We had a porterhouse ($24) and the Cowboy Cut Ribeye ($21.95) with mashed potatoes and julienne vegetables. The steaks were a little overcooked. The veggies were sodden. The meals were fine, if nothing special. But because we were treated with such indifference the shortcomings glared at us. We decided to return for a weekend night.
Bill, the general manager, waited on us Friday evening. Bill knows what he's doing and he does it well. I assume that he is working the floor to provide an example to his staff of how to wait with grace and pleasantry. They should take note. He strolls and hums and chats. He jokes and banters. He speaks in silly accents. It could be cheesy, but he's sincere so it isn't.
We chose the grilled salmon with cucumber, red onion relish and lobster crŠme fraiche ($19.95) and the special of crab-stuffed trout with mashed potatoes and the ubiquitous julienne veggies ($22.95). The fish was cooked well, a little toward rare. The veggies were fresher than they had been earlier in the week. The mashers were blended with Smithfield ham and sour cream for zing. There was a bit too much goop on the salmon, and I would have liked more stuffing in the trout. The flavors were good, if not astounding. Bill's genuine concern for our well-being, however, encouraged us to enjoy ourselves. That's the power of good service.
I was, though, unimpressed with the appetizers we sampled. The crab cakes ($8.95) were the best of the lot. Plenty of crab is used and the zesty mustard and lemon sauce was not overpowering. On the other hand, the calamari ($5.95) was overly breaded and tough. The Foundry Cocktail, a selection of chilled seafood ($8.95), has garnered a lot of praise. I don't get it. Most of it was mealy and lacked flavor. It could be good I would start by getting rid of the packaged crawfish tails.
As I said,The Foundry is off to a good start. It opened in the spring, and it's still (pardon the pun) hammering things out. The kitchen needs to focus on consistency.
As long as Bill continues setting his good example, I think the service will follow suit. For those in the West End, it would be a good place to frequent and watch grow. Good things are afoot. S
The Foundry Grill ($$$)
8900-A W. Broad St.
Lunch and Dinner: Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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