Red Fish Restaurant - Bad Choice for gluten free dining,
January 04, 2013
I called ahead to make reservations after reading positive reviews online and considering the many dining options available on Hilton Head and nearby. When making the reservations for Christmas Eve dinner for our family of three, I mentioned that I had a gluten and dairy restriction from my doctor. I was assured that there was a gluten free menu and that my requests would be no problem at all. I was thrilled and excited to be having dinner at Red Fish.
Upon our arrival, the hostess seated us at a nice table and presented me with a gluten free menu. Our server, C******a, was unfriendly and stoic right off the bat. She sucked the air right out of the room. No smile, no friendly greeting, no statement of her name - just a request for our drink order. I felt uncomfortable with her demeanor, but proceeded to state that I was told on the phone to mention my restrictions. She really made no comment, just grunted. C****** really pressured us to order, and expressed her frustration at having to answer any questions or wait to take the order. I felt so uncomfortable with her, that I got up to speak to the manager about the experience we were already having. He was arrogant, as well, but said he would speak to her. Minutes later, C****** came out into the dining room with this syrupy, fake sweetness, that was clearly demeaning to us.
After pulling enough information out of C******a to try to place an order, we did. Honestly, I don't even remember what I had for an appetizer. It was not memorable at all. We did have wine, but that wasn't memorable either, and was a selection made without any assistance or recommendations from our server.
The entrees came, mine selected from the gluten free menu. I ordered the filet with potato and vegetable. This plate was so devoid of any flavor at all, it was bad. Very bad. Dry shoe leather without any seasoning - not even salt and pepper. Mashed potatoes, that I was assured in a very arrogant manner, were made with only olive oil and garlic, and bland, over-cooked, limp vegetables. Yuck! This meal was so expensive, and it was just bad. I had a couple tastes of the mashed potatoes, and knew right away there was dairy in the potato. The manager came around to see how everything was, and I asked again if there was dairy in the potato. He said yes, and took the plate away. My plate came back with some disgusting green-colored jasmine rice and the rest of my shoe leather meat. The potatoes were replaced with something additional that was not flavorful. I don't know why the jasmine rice was green. Food coloring? The coloring didn't add anything to the taste.
The manager did ask how having eaten this restricted food allergen would impact me. Not once did C*****a even apologize for her error or express any concern at all. She never came around again until we were almost ready to go. She said, "Ok. Does everyone have what they need now?" She was just awful.
We discussed how serious her mistake could have been to a guest. I made every effort to communicate in a friendly and happy way. I was so excited about this meal with my family. It was a bad experience.
I can never recommend this restaurant based on the service, the food, the bad flavor, and the cost for such a disaster, the arrogance of the staff. When a person has food restrictions or requirements, we have to trust those who are presenting the options, making the food, and those serving it. Red Fish staff and menu cannot be trusted, unfortunately. There was not enough information on the menu to make decisions without asking questions. The questions were answered with incorrect information. This restaurant cannot be eaten at safely. I had to ask the same question about four times to two different people to get the correct information. There are other restaurants on the island and nearby on the mainland that would be worthy of a special meal. This isn't one of them. I wish this restaurant wouldn't have presented itself as one that could cater to special requests with their special menu, when they had no intention of living up to their claim. I would have been satisfied with an apology from our server, but never got that or even a thank you for our business. It was just bad all around. It's ten days later, and nobody else can remember what they ordered there. Really nothing special, just bad. Never again, Red Fish. The half palm tree is for the decor and atmosphere of the restaurant only....not for the food safety or service.
Next time we will try Robert Irvine's Eat! for a more upscale meal. We had a wonderful meal at Chef David's Roastfish and Cornbread. The staff was knowledgeable and extremely helpful. It was a really enjoyable to eat there.