Monday, May 25, 2015

Disappointing Dining at Comb Ridge Espresso Bistro.

Comb Ridge Espresso Bistro

680 South Highway 191
Bluff, Utah, 84512

Phone: (435) 485-5555

After reading the rave reviews on TripAdvisor, hubby, I and two friends decided to give it a try.  We arrived at 5:30pm; since they open at 5pm we wanted to give them time to get into action, and were seated immediately.  We were told by the hostess that, it being Memorial Day weekend, the chef had decided to have a hot buffet, all you can eat; no dinner menu.  There would be a special dessert brought out at the end of our meals also.  Well, this sounded great to us, so happily left our seats to go outside to the buffet table.


No plates; when plates arrived, the first two were greased covered, so pushed aside for cleaner plates.  The selection looked good; pasta salad, cole slaw, mixed greens, sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes, roasted vegetables, corn on the cob and roasted pork; smores were wrapped inside aluminum foil.  We all took a little of each item, hoping to come back for a second helping.  The cook, well we assumed he was the cook, was running back and forth to the kitchen to bring out fresh plates of food.

After we got back to our table, the hostess arrived with a bottle of wine; one of our party had asked for a glass of red wine.  However, he was now told that they did not sell by the glass, only the bottle; he thought nothing of it as the wine menu had a price of $12 on it, so he thought he was getting a bargain.  Little did he know!

So, we began to try out the various food items and the looks upon our faces....priceless!  The frowning and looks of, "What did I just put in my mouth!?!" were evident on all of us.  All the hot items were cold; the mixed greens salad was dry, bland and bitter.  I had chosen the orange sauce with onions to spoon over my pork, but used it to give the greens some flavor and hide the bitterness.  The roasted potatoes were cold, hard and crunchy; the roasted corn was burnt, and the congealed butter could not melt on it, as the corn was also cold as, was the vegetables and sweet potato.  The "smores" was a just out of the bag marshmallow (not toasted), covered in chocolate sauce and, you guessed it, cold.

A server came over with water to fill our glasses; no smile, no emotion shown at all; not even a response when we thanked her for the water.  No one else came over to our table to ask, "How is your meal?", "Is everything to your liking?", "Can I get you anything else?"  We tried to hold a conversation, but the acoustics inside were such that the conversations from other diners echoed around us, and we could not hear each other.  Suddenly, our plates, including silverware, were taken and a bill plopped on the table; guess we were naughty and didn't deserve dessert.  Our friend questioned the $55 cost of the wine, so the manager deducted $9 for our coffee drinks. 

...and that is basically the only positive aspect I can tell about, the Caf√© Latte and Espresso were wonderful!  Unfortunately, we used our credit cards to pay and were forced to leave a minimum 15% tip.  For what!  Cold food, and poor or nonexistent service!  Not for anything, but this pseudo-sophisticated restaurant didn't impress any of us; and none of us will be recommending it, except for the coffee.

Coffee Bar and our surly server.
Oh, and we're also wondering about food poisoning.  The pasta salad and cole slaw contained mayonnaise, but the bowls were not sitting in ice.  The pork and other so-called hot foods were not maintained in hot serving pans.  The sweet potatoes and corn did not have serving utensils; human hands touched the foods and who knows what bacteria may have been transferred.  The food was also kept uncovered, even when no one was serving themselves; gnats and flies were buzzing about.  Insect eggs...yum!

How could the owner/manager have made the experience better?  Instead of simply saying, "Well there's not much I can do, except give you the coffees for free", he should have comped our meals, at minimum, 50%.  He could have also explained why the food was cold, uncovered and, to put it bluntly, nasty in the lack of flavor and presentation.

Comb Ridge Espresso Bistro; go for the latte and espresso; avoid the food.

Mary Cokenour

UPDATE - August 20, 2015 - San Juan County Public Health Board sent an investigator down to Comb Ridge Espresso Bistro.  Even though our complaints were 2 and 1/2 months old, health code violations were still found; guess the owners should have taken this blog post, and the poor reviews on TripAdvisor and seriously and cleaned up the restaurant's act.

UPDATE - May 26, 2015

This is conversation that took place on Facebook between the owner and myself.  Basically, he is stating that we should have known the buffet was an "experiment" and that the entire staff was having an "off day".  Being locals, we all could go back and try again, but what about people from other states and countries; how do they go back for a "new first impression"?  They cannot.  Also, the health issues; if I were to send my write up and photos to the health department, would they be so understanding?

All four of us were willing to go back and give this place another try with the regular dinner menu.  However, after reading the immature and unprofessional comments directed personally at me; my husband and two friends said, "No way!".  By the way, we figured out, after splitting the bill, the surly server managed to charge us for the coffees anyway; but we were too frustrated to notice until after we were discussing the experience, and comparing payments.  Lesson learned!!!

The conversation....

Comb Ridge

 A new event for us.... Open memorial day... A different approach. Unfortunate that you really dont know us and have not experienced us on a typical day. I think it horrid that you told people to avoid our food when you only sampled a memorial day buffet that is not our usual fare. I think it good that you criticized our service--- we can use your review as a teaching tool for our young severs. If you are going to post such a thorough and thoughtful review--- perhaps you should have done more research before burning us online in such a shameful manner. If we had any indication you were unhappy with your meal ... Kelly would have comped your meals. But you never said a word. -andi, owner

Ps. No coffee for you, come back-- one year!

Mary Cokenour

 Considering I knew the Soup Nazi, enjoyed his soups and breads; you don't live up to his standards either. You definitely should take your own advice; do thorough and thoughtful research before trying out something new. We also did complain, but Kelly said he could only deduct $9 for the coffee, and couldn't wait for us to pay and leave. My review stands!

Comb Ridge

He said you complained about the wine only. Since it is illegal in utah to comp wine-- he comped your coffee. Also, i went to my favorite bakery in slc a few weeks ago. The pastries were horrid! Instead of blogging on my website that the food sucked and that no one should ever eat there, i emailed the owner my comments. She responded that perhaps her baker was having an off day. Mabey you should consider that we too were having an off day-- that we were trying something new that simply didnt go over well with a "foodie" like you. To say no one should eat at comb ridge is ridiculous. You obviously walked into comb ridge looking for fault. Comb ridge works very hard to provide the best to our guests... Our trip advisor reviews reflect that.

Ps. I am a scientist--- empirical data works just fine--- sometimes you just have to try things to see what happens, record the data, and go at it again. You are pretty harsh ya know. Why be so mean? Next time--- email me, let me know. No need to blog about it

Mary Cokenour

Basically you are saying; we were supposed to know it was a "different style of cooking day" and an "off day" for you, so it's our fault your staff didn't know what they were doing? Yes, we're locals and could come back; however, what about visitors from other states and countries; you only get one chance to make a first impression, so their impressions don't count? How long have you been in the restaurant business that you do not understand that salads with mayonnaise should be kept on ice; that hot foods should be kept over warmers; that food offered at an outside buffet should be covered! If I sent my post and photos to the UT Health Dept; do you think they would understand that your staff was "trying out something new and having an off day"? Don't continue to put fault on the victims; that is the sign of an abuser.  I'm done with this go around with you; accept that your food and service were poor that day, stop making excuses for it and fix it!

UPDATE - May 27, 2015

....and the saga continues.  The owner, Andrea C., continues her rant on Facebook; not only bringing my food blog more and more free publicity, but giving my friends and I the best belly laughs ever.  I will address each paragraph separately.

Comb Ridge

Paragraph 1

This is Andi: How do i start this post.... We had a group of four come in sunday during our memorial day pig feast. One of the women was a self proclaimed food critic--- on her website she reviews Denny's and Village Inn -- even McDonalds. She asserts that she is a genuine foodie from New York. She shamefully reviewed us on her website... A very unkind review. For example, She took a photo of server Gianelle--- who had just come off her first shift at Comb Ridge and was sweet enough to come back and help us with the buffet. In the photo G is looking down at her cutlery and linens.. The woman captioned the photo " unsmiling surley server". Really???

Paragraph 2
I am taking this opportunity to stick up for my hardworking staff, and our chef who goes out of his way to prepare fresh quality foods. We buy local! We buy fresh! And we care about our service. Now it is true that we all have our bad moments--- thats life. But... Most days, Comb Ridge rocks! I am proud of what we are all trying to accomplish here in bluff-- a challenging business model for a small bistro like ours.. We dont have big money to build fancy new bistro buildings and our chairs and tables wont ever match... But we still have more class and more heart than most bottom line businesses.

Paragraph 3
Thanks for everyones support. And Mary C.-- the "food critic"... Sorry you had a bad experience at McDonalds the other day. Perhaps, the staff was having an off day.

So, for Paragraph 1; nowhere on my food blog have I given myself the title, "food critic"; as to the title of "Four Corners Foodie", that was given to me by a restaurant owner who loved my review so much, he shared it wherever he could, and called me by that name.  Did I review a McDonalds, YES!, the one located in Kayenta, Arizona...on July 12, 2011, not the other day as Ms.C. inferred.  Since that time, they have brought up the cleaning and food standards, and hired security guards to keep the panhandlers away from the hundreds of visiting tourists who come into the Monument Valley area every day.  Consider this a public service with very positive results.  As to the surly server, she worked two  That's an excuse to not smile, not respond when spoken to by a customer....seems Ms. C. is full of excuses.

Paragraph 2, well good for you!  However, how can anyone take Ms. C. or Comb Ridge Espresso Bistro seriously when she has stated, "I am a scientist--- empirical data works just fine--- sometimes you just have to try things to see what happens, record the data, and go at it again."  In other words, she is not a restaurant owner, she is a scientist with a laboratory....her customers are not paying diners, they are lab rats.

Paragraph 3, see my responses to Paragraph 1.  As to being untrustworthy, this is coming from a woman who had a relative, or maybe it's even herself using an alias, Mckinsey L. open up an account on and post two phony reviews.  The first is singing the praises of Comb Ridge Espresso Bistro, and bashing me as a reviewer....not obvious at all, right? The second review is bashing another restaurant in Bluff, Utah; the Cottonwood Steakhouse which just celebrated their 20th anniversary, and besides my glowing review about them on Yelp, Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor; the article appeared in the local paper....yes princess, I'm the one that writes the food articles for our local paper.   I'll speak to the editor about doing a story on Comb Ridge Espresso Bar, shall I?

All you had to do, as a competent and legitimate business owner, is say, "I am so, so sorry that you, your husband and friends had such a terrible experience at my restaurant.  How can I make this all better, prove to you that my establishment should lose the bad review, and gain a better one?"  But all you did was fault the paying customers, make excuses, and personally attack; makes me wonder how old you truly are; and how spoiled that you believe you can mistreat customers and it's no big deal? ...and seriously, to bash another restaurant (Cottonwood Steakhouse) in your town, Bluff, small town that it is because I like it and gave it a 5 star rating???  Wow, not that's truly low.

By the way, the owner, Andrea Martin, aka Andrea C., is married to the manager, Kelly Martin who is listed on their website as Manager/Owner.  Therefore, he could have diffused this situation himself and quickly, since he is a co-owner. He also saw me taking photographs and said nothing about it, therefore, giving me permission with his silence.

Comb Ridge Coffee on Urbanspoon

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