I hate to have to write this review, because we've been to Crook's Corner before, and love their food and eclectic atmosphere. But we went there for dinner last night and had horrible service. We were walk-ins (I had called ahead for reservations, but was told they were booked up, but actually only reserved about half the tables, with the other half for walk-ins). It was a Sunday evening, around 6:40 pm, and we had a party of 4. When we arrived, we were told it would be about 5 minutes for a table. We went to the bar and were promptly served drinks. So far, so good. About 25 minutes later, and after another group of walk-ins that arrived after us was seated, we finally got our table. The 1st visit by the waitress was fine. Then the waiting began. When we looked around and saw 4 empty tables outside, and 2 inside, and were getting impatient, my husband went inside to see if he could speak to a manager. Turns out the hostess who sat us (late and after other walk-ins), was also the manager on duty. When my husband complained about how long it took to get seated, she claimed the tables were being held for another party (who never showed up). We had to flag down our waitress a couple of times, after sitting for quite a while with no drinks and empty water glasses. When we finally did get her attention, we got nothing but attitude. My husband saw that our drinks had been sitting on the bar for a while. And when we tried to complain again to the "manager", we got nothing but indifference. So we left after paying for the appetizer that we actually got (fortunately to feed our 8-year old, otherwise things would've gotten really testy).
So while Crook's does have some great, original food, their service staff needs a complete overhaul (except for the bartender). Not only are they bad at their jobs, they completely disrespect customers, even repeat customers.
They've lost their edge. Has the chef lost interest?. Having been to Crook's Corner once or twice (not in the past 5 years) I was expecting a similar experience to those I had in the past. It still has a good reputation, right? We were all in agreement that it is not the place it used to be. The service was so-so and the food was okay or at least some of it was, The thing that struck me most was the overall presentation of the plates. They lacked any visual appeal which I find an important quality of a "fine" restaurant. My cheese platter was the worst platter I have seen anywhere (5 crackers, all the same, 3 different cheeses one of which resembled melting whipped cream and an unimpressive mint sprig). My companions dishes were lacking any color or texture variations. The one that struck us the most was actually at the table next to us. On the plate was a large piece of watermelon turned upright. It resembled a cave. It almost appeared to be hiding the other food on the plate. Was that the point?
"Southern" establishment lacks Southern Hospitality... As a spur of the moment decision, my sister, mother and I decided to grab dinner somewhere in Chapel Hill and ended up at Crook's Corner. I went in thinking I'd be trying something new and hopefully find a new spot for future outings. Well I was half right. I tried something new, but did not find a place for me to venture to in the future. As we walked in we were greeted by the hostess and then asked where we'd like to sit "indoors or on the patio?". We didn't care so I replied "either one is fine". She quickly snapped back "um, well I can't decide for you...", when the professional thing to say would be "okay, no problem we've got a great table here for you". We were seated on the patio, which had a pretty good atmosphere to it for an early evening dinner. We then met our waiter, who was a gentlemen with the personality of sandpaper. We ordered and received our food with no problems, however I then found out that what they meant by "Southern" is not truly Southern cooking. Being raised in a traditional Southern home where Southern cooking goes without saying, I found the food somewhat mediocre. Their version of collards are alright, though the garnish of cheese just shows how ritzy they're trying to make their "Southern" cuisine. The cornbread is baked...if I'm not mistaken I believe that most Southerner fry their cornbread, no? To top it all of, just as my mother was finishing the food on her plate the waiter holds out his hand beside her plate and asks "may I?". Apparently he was either ready to leave work or ready to get rid of us. I think it's safe to say that I won't be giving this place any future business as well as warn my friends ahead of time.
Best Place in Chapel Hill.
A bastion of New Southern cuisine. I've lived in NYC for years and pride myself on being a foodie. This place is one of my top three favorite restaurants I've ever been to. Now that I've returned home to Chapel Hill I find myself trying to go here at least twice a month (if money were no object it would be once a week!). The food is always spot on but more importantly Bill Smith honors the memory of Bill Neal with his strong belief in Southern terroir. The vast majority of the food you eat was grown in Chatham County, the milks and creams in Orange. No potatoes coming in during the winter? He makes rutabaga and makes it incredibly tasty. The atmosphere is friendly with Smith often leaving the kitchen to greet tables. I remember the last time he came out and offered a woman having banana pudding another serving if she would like it. As far as dishes go I highly recommend the Southern pate, the cheese pork, and for the adventurous the sweetbreads sauteed in wild turkey (in Winter anyway).
If you are in Chapel Hill and haven't tried this place, I beg you to go and give it a go.
Excellent brunch!. I heard Crook's Corner is the best Sunday brunch in Chapel Hill - and I wasn't disappointed! The Eggs New Bern were delicious as was the Smothered Chicken. I only regret not ordering hush puppies too. I really enjoyed the very casual patio and I thought the prices to be very reasonable. I felt I ate a lovely Southern meal but not as heavy and greasy as some "southern" restaurants - truly southern gourmet. The service was only so-so but I'll definitely be back to try dinner at Crook's Corner and I'll be a regular at Sunday brunch. I just won't expect a parking spot in their laughable lot.
must have southern food. My wife and I went on a date here and didn't know what to expect with the unique hubcap facade. She had the shrimp and grits, myself the carolina sampler. Both were great, service was good, it is a cozy little place. Will go back. Only negative maybe a tad on the expensive side.
Customer Service Hassle. What is the big deal about getting a veggie plate? Is it really necessary for me to speak to the waiter, then the manager, explain the entire surgical procedure I had and the details of my post-surgery food plan to order what I need and what they obviously offer on the menu.? This was a nightmare in the midst of a celebratory meal for my niece's graduation. Get over yourselves, Crooks, it's all about making the customer happy, not massaging the ego of the chef. I don't recommend this place if you have ANY dietary requirements or expect cooperative and friendly customer service. Even on graduation weekend there ARE other options.
Shrimp and grits are amazing!. The food was superb, especially the shrimp and grits, and the service was very good. There was about a 25-minute wait on the Sunday afternoon we were there, but we were able to sit at the counter and have a drink while we waited. The restaurant is small, but cute, and the atmosphere is fun and friendly. Street parking can be an issue, so be prepared to walk a block or two.
SHRIMP AND GRITS SUPREME!!!!!!. I would drive across the state, if needed, to have the Shrimp and Grits at Crook's Corner. I'd recommend ordering your own plate and 2 or 3 to go (they heat up well). Good service, great food, and not a lot of children running around. No cigarette smoke. Heaven in North Carolina!!
Resting on their laurels. Was the chef out today?. I was really surprised at how so-so this place was because I was definitely looking forward to going. We had brunch there today and the service was pretty bad--our waiter only refilled our drinks when he brought the check, although he was very friendly. The outdoor seating area was very nice and it was surprisingly uncrowded. I liked that it was quiet enough that you could talk--rather than having really loud music as some places do. The fritters, which everyone seems to love, were burnt and hard. I couldn't believe they actually came out of the kitchen like that. My friend's shrimp and grits was too garlicky by far although it was lovely to look at. My eggs were great, but the biscuit was hard as a brick, even under the sausage gravy which had huge chunks of onion in it and very little sausage. My fries did redeam the meal, but the pina colada ice cream tasted like Hagen Dazs, no homemade as it was advertized. I will go back, but only to see if it gets better. I like supporting local businesses, but they need to stop resting on their laurels. Oh, and would it hurt them to have a changing table in the bathroom? If you're going to have highchairs, you probably expect babies, right? Don't make me change my twins at the table!