Sunday, April 30

Garcia Wells Hits the Spot

We finagled ourselves a table at Garcia Wells' last night for the soft opening (they're open to the public on Monday, May 1).They've been renovating the old TGI Friday's in Overton Square, a much-loved location of my early Memphis days (we could drink underage there, which along with a cheap happy hour, was the basic attraction). It was also cool because it had those giant windows that open up right onto Madison when the weather was pleasant. Apparently Earl, the owner, plans on keeping them open as much of the year as he can, so I approve of that.

We were told to be there between 6:30 and 7pm, so of course we showed up fashionably late at about 7:15. We weren't the last arrivals, though---Cory Branan came with his date after we'd already finished our first margarita. Did I mention the first drink was on the house? Sweet! And served by a cute bartender? Of course, our next margaritas were not only very sweet & sour tasting but served by a giant pair of fake breasts with a 40-something woman attached. Let's call her Tits McGee since I didn't catch her name. I think she was too busy flirting with the old men at the bar to focus on customer service, and in our group we were either girls or gay. The first margs tasted like they were made the old-fashioned way---with lime juice, soda, & tequila (Patron, no less). Knowing that Tits McGee has served her last drink there is the only thing that could bring me back, and a little bird told us that is the case. I will just give you one example of her many bad-bartender moves: When I asked her the name of the tequila, she turned around to grab the bottle & instead of bringing it to me, she went to the end of the bar & showed it to the first straight male she encountered, talking to him as if he was the one to ask about it. I am sorry to report that all the bartenders share tips, so some of our money unfortunately went to her.

It had good atmosphere, and if you remember the layout from the olden days of the mid-1990s, you know it's good for a busy bar scene. See & be seen is very easy there, since the focus of the entire restaurant is the bar, elevated above the main floor level. From the moment I walked in I felt like I had been transported to Nashville---not so much because of the decor (though it is very Texas ranch-inspired) as the patrons themselves: very white, older, upper-class (at least compared to Midtown's usual grubiness) and bejeweled. You know the type. It was at least suburban, if not totally Nashville. I'm hoping that was just because it was friends & family of the owners & employees, although the menu is definitely upscale dining for Overton Square.

The wine was reasonable (the only items we were charged for were drinks, so I can't tell you what the food cost, but it was a sophisticated if sensible menu). Our soups were both good, one a thick, warm tomato soup, and the other a cold tomatillo gazpacho, which was definitely a must-order. The salad choices were roasted tomato & pepper, which was quite good, and a goat cheese salad (both over spinach, which isn't as easy to get as lettuce mixes around here, so they get my vote). Of course I ordered the warm soup & roasted tomato salad, and now that I think of it, I ordered all the wrong stuff... but it was still all very good. We all ordered the filet---which was wonderful, if not cooked exactly how we ordered it---and that came with grilled onions (called carmelized, but they weren't) and yummy mashed potatoes. By the time we finally ate we were good & hungry, but I think the food would have been good an hour earlier as well. I'm making myself hungry again. I'll return again in a few weeks to see if they've worked all the kinks out... but not until I am sure Tits McGee is gone! [more on Garcia Wells]

UPDATE: More on Tits McGee here.


Stacey Greenberg said...

I went for lunch today (after balking at the dinner prices) and was sorely disappointed. the ceviche was really shrimp cocktail, the turkey club was just plain nasty, the fries weren't even cooked!, and the fish tacos were dry. the cheese dip was blah. our server was nice but nervous. i had to send some stuff back and left feeling like i wasted good money. i really want this place to succeed (i live in overton sq) but dang, i just don't see it happening. maybe i'll have to get drunk before eating there again.

Serrabee said...

What a disappointment! We really enjoyed our free dinner, but I'd wanted to go back for a real dining experience. Sounds like a bad idea now... let me know if you do have a drunk meal there sometime!