Sunday, July 24, 2011

Off Center Cafe

(UPDATE May 2013: Off Center Cafe is closed, despite what apparently was a last-ditch effort by Off Center to turn things around. Now, Iggy's Catering and Cafe stands where Off Center Cafe used to be. I'll make it a point to stop by the next time I'm in Salem!)

Off Center Cafe is a breakfast/lunch establishment located on Center St. in Salem, Oregon.

Walking into this place, I already had bad feelings about getting a meal here. The decor is abysmal, feeling old, outdated, and depressing. At least the woman at the counter was friendly and let me sit anywhere. Hell, there were only three other patrons in the place when I arrived, but I'll attribute that to most of the population choosing to eat at home and getting ready for work (I went in on a Wednesday morning).

I asked the woman (who was also my server) what was a good choice to get. She pitched "Annie's Eggs" ($8), an egg scramble with spinach, tomato, onions, and Parmesan cheese, complete with a side of potatoes and toast. I asked if there was any extra charge if I went with egg whites, and she said no extra charge. Following her advice, I went with Annie's Eggs (using egg whites) for my meal.

Annie's Eggs (using egg whites)
Despite only having a couple of other patrons, the food took a bit longer than I would have expected (went past 15 minutes to get the order to my table). It shouldn't take too long to do a scramble and toast. The only time-consuming part would be the potatoes.

I thought Off Center has good food portions, but unfortunately, it's very lackluster in taste. The eggs and vegetables were not seasoned enough (note that I ask for no condiments on purpose so they can't hide behind a wall of sauce). I tasted zero Parmesan cheese in there, which makes things even worse.

The potatoes were cooked OK. But again, there was no flavor and I could tell a bunch of the potatoes had been on the flattop a bit too long. The outside of about 60 percent of the potato chunks had turned from a nice crunchy brown to burnt black.

Thankfully, the toast was properly toasted and buttered. It was a nice light buttering, not a heaping pile of fat on carbs.

And this is why food establishments should never leave their door open: While attempting to enjoy my meal, a bug just happened to land on a couple pieces of my toast and on a few of the potatoes. Needless to say, I wasn't eating after that.

Another place where I basically got shafted in terms of food quality. The meal wasn't worth $8, and I even felt like I could have been comped for the overall experience. And why didn't the female server push the day's specials? Again, I only noticed the specials after my meal was over. It shouldn't be a patron's job to ask what the specials are. It's more the staff's job to push the specials to give the customer more options. It could have even been a small card listing the specials, nothing fancy.

Off Center Cafe is more than off-center. It's just plain crooked. The food was probably a three at best. The place takes a big deduction on decor and service (mainly the failure to push the specials). I begrudgingly left a small tip, mainly out of courtesy than anything else. Not a place I would return to, hell no. 0.5/10

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