Restaurant 17 (Travelers Rest)
Published Mar 06 2017
Hours of Operation: Tu-Th 5P-9P, F-Sa 5P-9:30P (hours for “Dinner at 17” while “Café” is also open Sa-Su 7:30A-3P)
Location: 10 Road of Vines
Menu items consumed: Grapesmith & Crusher Cabernet Sauvignon, Water, bread with smoked butter, Black Caesar Salad, Boudin Balls, North Carolina B-Liner Snapper, Pork Belly & Scallop, Chocolate Peanut Butter Puff, Cappuccino
My wife and I went here for date night after we (she more than I) admittedly got cold feet about the restaurant we were about to attend (with reservations awaiting and all) due to the prices looking like price tags for small islands…yeah, a bit intimidating. Instead we called an audible, then Restaurant 17 for reservations (again, admittedly, this wasn’t a cheap stop but for the same price as a couple a la carte entrees from our first restaurant choice we could have a full meal at 17). We were pleased they said they could seat us in about 20 minutes, the time it would take us to get there. Okay, then, thanks, brosephine.
Knowing nothing but the generic Hours, Location, and Address (pre-researched for The List”), seeing how it is in Travelers Rest I assumed it would be a smaller, quaint kind of classy – but what I did not expect was the resort-type hotel with the gorgeous exterior and an interior just as beautiful to match…like, wee talkin’ goe-jhuss. When we entered it truly felt like we were at a 5-star hotel or resort while on vacation (ya know, the type of resort and vacation I assume is available and possible…an assumption made based on the fact my wife and I have 3 kids and therefore must vicariously live through experiences such as those found in Travelers Rest restaurants? Yeah, those). This feel was only expanded once we later viewed the pictures of the resort online after departing 17 (views much more difficult to see in the night hours during which we were there).
When we first arrived the host was already holding the door for us with a big smile and began to answer our questions both as we were walking to the table as well as while she was seating us, telling us a little bit about the restaurant, its history, and building connections with us in asking what brought us to the restaurant, how we heard of it, etc. – SUPER kind and interested. She went to get our waters and quickly returned, showing the great support and team-attitude that she possessed and displayed. This initial teamwork was also helpful considering we didn’t see our server for the first 8 minutes we were sat. The host was also kind enough to bring us bread with butter, the combination of which had a smoky bacon or salami flavor, depending if you ask my wife or me, that was awfully weird and disconcerting (at first I thought the funk was in the bread…I guess it was less disconcerting it was the butter, but nevertheless the funk had been fed to me). I discovered it was the butter, not the bread, when I wiped my knife with my napkin, then my mouth with said-napkin (this is the part that seems I am just being ENTIRELY too detailed and wordy…but, there is reason…WAIT FOR IT!!!) and at the same time my wife wiped her mouth with her napkin and made the astute observation of how soft the linens were (leading her to remind me we need new sheets at home and informing me of a sale she saw…thanks a lot for costing me MORE money, Restaurant 17…like dinner wasn’t enough).
When our server did arrive he was very kind, seemingly concerned for our well-being, but also seemed a bit new as he was uber-nervous the entire time he interacted with us (it was also a bit distracting that we seemed to be in a pretty nice restaurant, the building gorgeous inside and out, and the host wearing all black – all of which indicated a pretty upscale establishment – yet our server came to the table wearing an apron looking similar to the wardrobe of the stars of Home Improvement…yeah, I don’t need Al Borland serving me, but thanks anyway for the “TR” effort, guy). We couldn’t tell if he was the quiet type that became a server to try to get out of his awkward shell a bit or if he was new and still a bit unsure of what he was doing, the latter of which seemed more likely since it also seemed he was personality-filled to the certain extent we could ascertain (he also had to look in his server book for notes regarding the menu and how to answer some seemingly-basic questions, another of his “he might be new” moments). The good news about this is at least he cared enough to get answers rather than just deciding he didn’t know and we can figure it for ourselves. For whatever knowledge he lacked, though, lacking care for our experience he did not. He also informed us that they take great pride in making food using the freshest ingredients, stating that the menu can sometimes change every day or 2 based on these specifications (to prove, the online menu is different from the time of writing this than it was 2 days prior when we visited).
When we got our entrees my wife definitely agreed that it was the freshest, as she so kindly stated that her vegetables tasted like they still had dirt on them…at least it’s organic, right? My vegetables were also somewhat weird, though they came in a fantastic presentation with my fried snapper that was in a sweet & sour sauce. When I read and heard “sweet & sour” sauce I assumed that it described the flavor more than the fact it was a sweet & sour sauce not dissimilar to that found at Chinese restaurant (1 part creativity, 1 part weirdness). My wife’s Pork Belly (HER FOOD, PEOPLE, not a comment on HER belly...DON'T TRY TO START A FIGHT!!!) & Scallop were also very good, the scallop seared black on one side and packed with flavor all-over. My wife thought it would be smaller pieces of pork belly rather than what appeared to be possibly up to 4 ounces each; I enjoyed it greatly though she found it mediocre. However my wife did love the appetizer of Boudin balls and I loved the Black Caesar Salad, a salad with dressing that was as black and thick as caviar but in small doses was a delicious change-of-pace from your generic Caesar salad. We also got a couple of glasses of wine for dinner, as we would have gotten a bottle except for the fact the lowest priced was $40 and we weren’t in the mood to do that. The entrees mainly stayed in the high $20 range, though there was a steak the server suggested that costed $2.75/ounce with a minimum of 12 ounces (though there is no maximum, a fact the server shared when he said I could get a 90 oz. if I pleased…was he challenging my manhood in this?!?! It sure as poo sounded like it!).
Especially for the price of the entrees we were highly disappointed but also didn’t feel super comfortable telling anyone that fact since the service was super sweet, even if the server himself wasn’t the most punctual. Besides the elongated wait for him to first greet us there was also quite a time-gap between our appetizer/salad and entree deliveries. However after the entrees came and went (and with the lack of enjoyment/eating them there was) I reminded wifey that if we are going for date night dessert HAS to be an option on the docket. I convinced her to get the Chocolate Peanut Butter Puff and, well, it didn’t sound like the greatest thing in the world (the puff part particularly) but I enjoy peanut butter desserts and my wife loves them so we went for it. It seemed like it took my wife a half hour to eat her entree even in hardly touching the vegetable part of it due to its earthy-taste (read: hippy for gross). However the dessert disappeared in about 13 seconds, a dessert neither of us could stop eating due to how amazing it was (uh, ACTUAL and FRESH peanut butter INSIDE THAT MOTHER!!! Uh, yuh, INCREDIBLE!). I also ordered a cappuccino, though the disappointing thing here was that it arrived when we were almost done with the dessert. The server did apologize for that late delivery but it still didn’t change the fact I couldn’t enjoy dessert and capp together (the way it’s intended to be).
As I previously mentioned the building itself was gorgeous. Like, I mean, GORGEOUS. Large artwork pieces, stone exterior, ridiculously high ceilings, stone fireplace next to our table, polished cement floors: you name it, it had it…all. The only issue we had with the building itself is the high ceilings and lack of music turned what could have been a SUPER romantic date night into one competing with noise and surrounding chatter that was often detracting of the meal and experience. However the building was also so beautiful sometimes I got lost in just looking around, including at the most beautiful modern-twist-chandelier I’ve seen in my entire life.
All-in-all Restaurant 17 was an awesome place to see, with super friendly people who want to take care of you, but lacking execution in the delight we could gain from the menu. Perhaps my wife and I would have enjoyed it more with different menu choices. Unfortunately we probably won’t ever know since the appetizer, salad for one that we shared, two entrees, two glasses of wine, cappuccino, and dessert ran us $120 before tip. While the building is super beautiful and the staff super nice, the food was not super anything (except perhaps mediocre), meaning this Restaurant may be waiting until our 17th anniversary for a revisit from us…if it’s still there.