Carson’s Grill [2/5]
2 (40%) 1 vote

Intrigued by the idea of a casual bar and grill in Hampton Cove, the hubby and I stopped in for dinner at Carson’s Grille on Sunday. Tucked behind a gas station and sharing a section of strip mall with a nail salon, it’s unassuming and easily accessible.

The dining area is partitioned into two rooms. One (which you enter through) packed full of booths, high top tables, and a bar with two overhead projectors. The second, off to the left, contains a pool table with a smattering of tables surrounding it. After a moment of awkward pondering, a server noticed us and cheerfully directed us to sit wherever we liked.

We opted for one of the booths, noting as we sat the individual TV in our booth (which was mercifully off). A small ‘L’ of seating surrounded the unfinished wood table and the hubby and I found ourselves katty-korner to each other.

We perused the menu, noting a decent selection of salads, and settled on old standbys– a classic hamburger for me and a philly cheese-steak for the hubby. We both selected fries as our sides and added an order of mozzarella sticks as a starter. The possible sides were varied, included cinnamon apples, rice, baked potatoes and more.

As we waited for our food, we watched the projected video of old country music clips, eventually realizing we were watching an extended ad for a compilation CD that promised country’s most “heartfelt” songs.

The mozzarella sticks came out soon after.

Nearly square with crunchy exteriors and gooey, salty mozzarella, they also featured an odd, chemical-ly aftertaste. The accompanying marinara had a strong tomato flavor but the flavor made for a jarring contrast with the mozzarella sticks and I preferred them without any sauce.

The piped music, clinking glasses, and chatter from other patrons made our conversation a little hard to hear, but we continued on, scooting a little closer and leaning in.

Our dinners came up in the ubiquitous red plastic baskets complete with packaged mayonnaise and a pickle spear.

My burger (shown at the top of this post), featured an airy bun with a toasted interior. The bottom bun was slathered with greasy burger drippings and I added ketchup with a bottle that the hubby liberated from a neighboring table. Unfortunately, ketchup alone cannot save a burger devoid of nearly all flavor. The only notable ingredient was the crunchy and strong onion. The cheddar had disappeared into the patty, the iceburg lettuce was limp, the tomato mealy. And the patty itself tasted only of grease and vaguely at that. The only good point was the generous size, but given the lack of flavor, even this #1 leftover fan couldn’t get behind packaging it up.

The fries had some redeeming value in that they were at least well salted, though most leaned soft rather than crispy. The pickle spear had a sharp vinegar flavor.

The hubby found his sandwich to be equally bland.

We began to realize that the grill offered very little in the way of overhead lighting as the setting sun continued to dim the room around us. After a long wait for the check, we had paid but the hubby decided to hit up the restroom before we left so I remained in the booth fiddling around with my phone. I looked up to discover our server asking if I minded that she “checked this” as she fiddled with the TV. A family was coming in behind us and wanted to take our tableso our server was checking to see if the TV worked. It seemed odd that couldn’t have waited another 3 minutes for us to depart.

Despite wanting to like Carson’s, the dining experience and food were both lackluster. The sandwiches were impressively tasteless and the service spotty. While the fries and mozzarella sticks were average or just below, they certainly couldn’t salvage the main course or makeup for the inflated prices. We’ll have to keep looking for a local, homey hangout kind of place.

Total for the meal: $29.65 (Includes one burger, one sandwich, an order of mozzarella sticks, and two drinks.)

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