So, a few months ago, my husband booked us a reservation at The Handsome cab; and my review was in one word: “Underwhelmed”. Shortly after I made the blog post about my experience, one of the owners reached out to me, inviting me back for a glass of wine on them and a chance to express, further, my experience and disappointment in person.
I was very impressed that they had sent such a personal email, and took such care in responding to all their unsatisfied customers on most restaurant reviewing platforms online. (I’m not lying, go check out Yelp or Google). Almost all of them have a response and a personal invitation back to the restaurant for a glass of wine and sometimes a meeting so that the owners can do everything they can to remedy poor experiences at their establishment. I responded, and told them that at this current time, that would be very hard, due to work schedules and that our daughter was now in school and we no longer were able to keep up with our old Thursday “date night” schedule.
After another email correspondence, we decided to chat on the phone…
Mid afternoon, one day at work, I received a phone call from Robert (one of the owners) where we proceeded to talk through my blog review and my dining experience. Robert expressed to me that neither he or his business partner, Andrew, had any direct knowledge or hands on experience in the restaurant industry….
*NOW* before everyone flips out, throws their hands in the air, and says, “well screw that! How good can a restaurant be when the owners have no clue what they are doing?!?”….let me finish the recap of our conversation….
While neither Andrew or Robert had any direct experience in a restaurant, let alone owning one before the Cab, one thing that honestly did shine through was the passion in the tone of his voice. Openly admitting that they were unsure of a lot, but they knew what they liked, and had a determined vision for their restaurant; was something that kept my attention through the entire phone call. He stated that they had seen a decline in customer satisfaction, and another thing *for me* that set this apart from other owners I have known, was that they were not going to settle for dissatisfaction of any sort. They were going to do something about it.
Their saving grace came in the form of former Head Chef and previous owner of The Left Bank, David Albright. Robert explained to me that they wanted everything to be exceptional again, like it had been when they first opened, and with David’s help, they were working on a new menu that would be released in mid October. David would come in, find a new head chef, revamp the menu to the high end / fine dining standards the Handsome Cab boasts about, and retrain any and all staff that needed to be. Mistakes were going to be corrected, and they were going to be made right. I was assured of this by Robert at the end of our call.
(Our Return to The Handsome Cab)
Now, my husband was very weary of giving this place a second chance, but I had promised Robert I would return, and hell, after the first review I gave them, I owed it to all of you too.
Here we go…
First look/appearance: not much had changed, but then again it didn’t need to. I will stand by what I originally said- the atmosphere can double both as casual or dressy. Classy, with a touch of jazz sass! I love it. The industrial brick makes you feel like you are stepping back in time, but with all the modern amenities and decor of today. What can I say….The Handsome Cab has class.
Seating: Sat quickly with no reservation needed on a Saturday night. I really liked the holiday decorations we were sat so close to by the front window. It gave the dining experience a very nice, romantic ambiance.
Food: (AKA- What you all were waiting to read)
A lovely waitress came over, took our drink orders and then gave us a few to look over the menu after she had reviewed the specials and answered any questions we had about the new menu. *she gave the perfect amount of time in between all mentioned above. I never felt like I was looking around for our waitress*
(hors d’oeuvre) – *Ordered with drinks/ came 7 minutes later*. Also one of the specials: 6 Raw Oysters. Now, I must not lie…every food you are going to read about, I specifically picked to test the new menu. There are certain food items that a lot of restaurants do, but can’t do well, and oysters is one. If you can’t shuck an oyster properly, or can not clean them and they retain a lot of grit, that is going to begin to tell you how the rest of your dinner is going to go. These were close to perfect. I had a small, small, small piece of shell but they were clean, tasted fresh and had a nice sweet flavor. And let me just add….do you know how seriously hard it is keeping seafood that you are going to be serving raw, in stock and in the best condition possible? You almost have to get a delivery daily! Very impressed.
(Appetizer/Shareables) – *ordered at 9:05 / came right after oysters at 9:16* Beef Tartare: Basically, I have no words….it was out of this world. Quite possibly the best beef tartare I have ever had. Fantastic portion size for two people to split. It was complimented by a fantastic white sauce that really enhanced the flavor of the meat, and the temperature was stellar! In a nut shell, YOU NEED THIS IN YOUR LIFE!
(Appetizer/Shareable #2) Brussel Sprouts: Now some of you will remember that we ordered the brussel sprouts during our last visit, and I felt like they were a massive lump of previously frozen mush….not these. Portion, again perfect. Flavor, extremely balanced and complimented by huge cuts of pork belly. Oh and guess what….the sprouts were fresh! The crisp texture shined through and was glazed in a heavenly sauce. Excellent dish, and HUGE improvement from our last experience.
(Main dishes): *we had finished all shareable and our main dishes came out right at 9:28*
I can feel all of you tipping to the front of your seat with anticipation…like, “there has to be at least one issue here that she is going to rant and rave about, right?!”….
(Pan Seared Sea Scallops- Main Dish)
(Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Broccoli and I substituted in Cauliflower for the starch)
*typing super fast because this is about to get real*
No bullshit, this was probably one of the best dinners we have had in a while. The scallops were cooked to perfection with an amazing sauce on top, and had a healthy portion of pork belly to add the rich flavor that can sometimes be lacking in a shellfish as simple as scallops! I mean D.I.V.I.N.E!!!!
And can someone PLEASE give an amen to JUMBO, and no, I’m not talking about larger hunks of crab,…these JUMBO LUMPS looked like they came out of a crab the size of a German Shepard! And there was no sacrifice in flavor for the size! So sweet and rich! Barely enough filler to hold the cake together….I mean, kids, this was a SERIOUS crab cake!
The only issue I had this trip, is my stomach was too small to hold anymore food.
My husband and I left, saying … “well shit! They did it!” Robert kept his promise, and he and his team delivered.
And on that note, I just want to be clear….they invited me back mid October, and I waited until the end of November to return, intentionally. I wanted their chef to get comfortable, I wanted to see if service would decline after the relaunch in October, and I wanted to give an honest review. I gave no notice to anyone in that month and a half of when I would be coming back, the owners were not there the night I returned, and I doubt anyone who had anything to do with our experience during this visit, knew who I was or what I was doing there. This was a complete 100% true experience comparable to one anyone would receive when they step into The Handsome Cab.
And don’t fool yourself….you know you want to see what jumbo lump crab looks like from a crab the size of a German Shepherd.
With absolute honesty and deepest compliments to the chef…Handsome Cab….you lookin fine!
2 thoughts on “The Handsome Cab- Take 2”
Just getting off a plane to Raleigh North Carolina for my healthcare job and you made me cry. Thank you for coming back. We try very hard every day and I will definitely share this with the chef. I don’t think I was there on the night you were there because I was working in Georgia for three weeks in November but I do hope we meetsoon.
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Well done! I would love to meet you both and the new chef! This was a fantastic dinner! We had a great night out and plan to return soon! Thank you for keeping your promise. It did not disappoint. 😉