Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Rivah Cafe

The Rivah Cafe is part of the revitalized area of Yorktown known as Riverwalk.

After reading the positive Daily Press review, I happily made a reservation for my family to meet at the Rivah Cafe for lunch the following weekend.

The line to get in was chaotic and confused, and the hostesses seemed rather taken aback by the crowd. When we finally got to the front, I gave my name and the time of our reservation. We were asked to stand to the side for a few minutes. When the hostess came to take us to our table, she started walking to the left, towards a large dining room. When I told her our reservation had been for the cafe, she looked confused and said we had no reservation, and tried to continue walking towards the dining room. I asked if it would be possible to still sit on the cafe side of the restaurant. After conferring with the other hostesses, she finally switched menus and took us to the cafe.

The interior was well done, the walls hung with old, regional photographs; the view of the York river is simply beautiful. I look forward to coming back on some cool evening to sit on the deck with a cocktail in one hand, drinking in the calm, quiet beauty of the river. As it turned out, we had quite a while to drink in that view while waiting for our waitron to come to the table for our drink order.

All of the wait staff were very young, and seemed to be teetering through the first day on the job. We ordered some beverages (I went with a Budweiser, which according to the menu, is imported from Missouri), and wisely took the opportunity to order our meals as well.
The cafe menu is very short and to the point. There was a small selection of unassuming starters, rounded out with sandwiches, priced somewhat on the high side. I ordered the hot brown; my husband got the dagwood; my father went with the reuben, and my mother ordered the BLT soup. After another interminable wait, our drinks were delivered. We'd finished our beverages and flagged down our increasingly harried-looking waiter to order a second round. We watched tables who were seated long after us get their meals, eat, and have the plates cleared. Finally, our waiter rounded the corner laden with our plates.

The Dagwood in lore is an impressively large sandwich, bursting at the seams with all manner of lunchmeats and cheeses. Compare that to the specimen sitting in front of my husband, unassuming, cold, and unimpressive. The high point was the meat itself, which was Boar's Head quality. But it was rather modest in size, and the flavour... boring and bland.

My father's Reuben seemed to follow suit, once again with the meat itself being the high point.

My own sandwich was the "Hot Brown"... a sandwich so called due to the fact that it is served open-faced and toasted, with the cheese bubbling up brown from the heat of the broiler. Somehow the kitchen staff seemed to have forgotten the cheese. It was not toasted, or even vaguely warm. The frizzled onions served on top were both greasy and limp. The meat itself, following the theme, was good.

All of our sandwiches came with french fries. My husband and father were both served thin french fries in the increasingly popular free-standing cone. Mine were forgotten, and showed up halfway through the meal. Curiously, I had micro-thin shoestring french fries.

My mother had the BLT soup, which arrived in a wide, shallow bowl, flecked with bacon and croutons. She said it was quite good.

In all, I can't see returning to this place for mediocre food, high prices, and inept service. Obviously, the Rivah Cafe has been built for the one customer who can't return to complain; the hapless tourist. Caveat emptor.

That said, I'll still go back for a cocktail on the deck, and then head elsewhere for dinner.


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