Saturday, November 23, 2013

After the Flood / Sam II

I wish I could give Sam's II a wonderful review, even a good review, but sadly, I can't.  Athens is a beautiful little town and its small business owners need all the help they can get to keep the town alive and well.  We were at Sam's once - before the flood - and swore we would never go back, but this past weekend  we were in Athens for plumbing supplies and very hungry so we decided to give it another chance.  We are seasonal residents and hearing that the temperature was going to dip down to 19 degrees on Saturday we made an impromptu 4 hour trip from our primary residence to our "mountain home" north of Athens to turn the heat on and make sure our water pipes wouldn't burst.

Before going to Sam's we stopped by Lowery's on Main Street in Athens, hoping to have a great breakfast only to learn that it went out of business because they suffered so much damage from the flood of 2011.  In addition to the restaurant, Lowery's was and still is a flower and gift shop which also designs and creates quality monuments. They do all phases of monument work from the initial pencil sketch, sandblasting, to setting the finished product in the cemetery.  The Lowery's also own and operate a funeral home.  All of their business are on Main Street.  Evidently, the restaurant which was in the rear of the building that houses the flower and gift shop, was a superfluous venture and did not produce income significant enough to warrant a complete overhaul after the flood.  In fact, Rick Lowery in a statement he gave to the local newspaper doesn't even mention the restaurant when he speaks of his businesses.  I wonder if Rick ever ate there.  If he didn't he missed some great food. I wonder if he ever ate at Sam's before or after the flood. 
"I had 7 feet of water in my monument building, and 56 1/2 inches in the funeral building," Lowery said. "In the flower shop, we lost most of our inventory. It was all under water.  "I've already called another funeral director in Towanda. He's offered to let us use his funeral home." Rick Lowery
Read more about the flood of 2011 from the Star Gazette

So, anyway, here is my review of Sam II:

*The coffee was drinkable, not wonderful and not horrible, but merely mediocre and thus drinkable.  The coffee creamer was artificial, not real half and half or real cream.  In dairy country I find this hard to understand.  Spending a little more on real cream and not being so stingy with the coffee grounds would make a world of difference.  Good coffee is a must in any place I go for breakfast. 

*There was only one server on duty when we arrived, she was very cordial and efficient, and when we commented to her that she seemed to be doing it all, she said someone else would be coming in at eleven.  The place wasn't packed, one customer at the counter, and guests at three other tables besides our own.

*My husband ordered pancakes and orange juice, thinking he was playing it safe, saying privately to me, "How can they screw that up?" and "How bad can their pancakes be?" .  He soon found out.  First of all, when initially ordering he asked for blueberry pancakes.  Our server seemed a stunned by his request, as if he was asking for something rare, exotic and unattainable.  She responded with "Oh, they don't have blueberries back there."  "Okay" he said, "just give me 2 regular pancakes".  His regular pancakes which he says were bland, lacking any discernible taste, might have tasted a little better with real butter instead of the miserly sized lump of butter substitute.  He said, "Oh well, at least the orange juice is okay.  But really, how hard would it be to keep some frozen or canned blueberries on hand, or some blueberry jam or preserves?  And why not real butter?  Go to the Creekside Discount Grocery in Rome, PA -  they've got great butter for 1.29 a pound and you could probably get some blueberry preserves there too.  You've got to start thinking outside the box, Sam II. 

I was braver than my husband and ordered poached eggs, homefries and bacon.   I had to drain my eggs which were swimming in water.  There was a wooden salad bowl on the table which contained extra packets of fake butter.  I emptied the fake butter onto the table and poured the egg water into it.  The eggs looked good, cooked to the right degree, but after after eating a few spoonsful which tasted okay, I got a spoonful that tasted really awful  (in a way I can't explain because I can't compare that taste to anything I've ever had in my mouth) and in disgust, I had to spit it out into my napkin.  That was the end of my egg eating.  I was left with 2 wimpy pieces of bacon and a whole mess of homefries.  I poked through the pile, looking for pieces of potato that appeared to be "fried".  Most were  small white cubes that apparently had not touched the griddle long enough to be browned.  Never have I seen such a poor excuse for homefries. 

We won't be going back to Sam II unless they get their act together.  What I would recommend is a serious restaurant intervention.  I could put up with the bleak, impoverished fire-hall atmosphere  if the food was decent.  I think Sam II has great potential as a much needed eating and gathering place for Athenians and visitors - but, in it's present state,  it is crying out in desperation, not only for a physical interior makeover and sufficient staff, but also and especially, for more motivated and imaginative cooks. Another piece of advice:  Call Chef Irvine

Robert Irvine
Turning around a failing restaurant is a daunting challenge under the best of circumstances. Attempting to do it in just two days with only $10,000 may be impossible. But Chef Robert Irvine is ready to take on the challenge. He'll channel MacGyver and use a lot of muscle to rescue these desperate places from complete collapse. Can one man, in two days, with just $10,000, turn the tide of a failing restaurant and pave the road to a successful future? Find out as Robert Irvine takes on      Restaurant: Impossible.  Read More

Sam's II on Urbanspoon


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