Review: Flying Biscuit Cafe (Raleigh, NC)

I try to do some research on restaurants before I try them, and I generally avoid chains, so I don’t know exactly how we ended up at the Flying Biscuit Café one night several months ago.  It’s a regional empire with a handful of locations across Georgia and North Carolina.  Unfortunately, it merits a review because for all the wrong reasons.  You can’t always win, but sometimes you wish you could have that time and money back.

To begin with, the place, which is nestled in Cameron Village, is much larger on the inside than I suspected.  The décor is bold or gaudy, depending on your viewpoint – bright orange, purple, and green walls, with vinyl fruit-and-vegetable cartoon tablecloths that echo the wall colors (only louder).  In the style of Cracker Barrel, there are knickknacks and kitschy items everywhere.  We were seated in a purple and lime green booth.

The menu is extensive – offering breakfast all day (a good thing in my mind), salads, sandwiches, and a range of entrees, including a number of vegetarian options.  After we ordered, a small plate of three big biscuits was brought to our table.  They were fluffy and warm but a little bland.  My wife said they were too sweet; I didn’t detect much flavor.  They were served with a side of apple butter that was heavy on the cinnamon.

I ordered a fried green tomato BLT, which was described as having, beyond the namesake ingredients, goat cheese and a cashew relish.  I opted for roasted potatoes on the side, described mysteriously on the menu as “moon-dusted”.  I don’t recall the reasoning, but apparently this refers to the use of rosemary.  In fact, the potatoes were like those sad hotel breakfast buffet potatoes.  The sandwich was absolutely no better.  It was served on toasted plain white bread, the fried green tomatoes were too densely breaded – almost impenetrable, really, and the goat cheese was not distributed at all.  It was clumped in one little spot, so that I tasted it in maybe one or two of the bites that I took.  The cashew relish was similarly indiscernible, and may not have added much anyway considering the crunch of the fried tomatoes.  Although I can’t recall now which sandwich my wife ordered, she was equally unenthusiastic about her meal.

There were other negative aspects of our visit as well.  First, there were three or four flies flitting about our table the whole evening, and we were sitting inside [there are a handful of tables out front along the sidewalk].  Second, our daughter’s kid’s pancake was 1) too big for the plate it was on, making syrup application a tricky proposition, and 2) served on a piping hot plate (presumably just out of the dishwasher).  Who serves a meal to a 3 year old on a scalding plate?

When we were finished – it didn’t take long, since we only ate 1/2 of our food, at most – the waitress brought us the wrong check.  An honest mistake, to be sure, but one that just confirmed what I had already decided: I don’t plan to return.

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