Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
FAYETTEVILLE — Theo’s American Kitchen, which is just off Dickson Street, has been the subject of a lot of hype, but for me, it didn't deliver.
From the moment I walked in the door and found that my reservation was lost on this Saturday night in the middle of Fayetteville’s Bikes Blues and BBQ Festival, I knew I was in for another headache to add to the one I already had from the motorcycle exhaust. With the inside tables in this this intimate 66-seat restaurant already reserved, the restaurant found us a spot outside on the patio, overlooking the roaring bike rally on Dickson Street (in hindsight maybe we should have picked a quieter Fayetteville weekend).
We walked through the inside of the restaurant, which had the typical upscale white tablecloth and candle look (but the acceptable dress is casual, bike rally or not). The kitchen was in the center of the room, with a glass wall separating the chefs from the diners.
It took a while, but our waitress, who was very charming, eventually took our order. We chose a bottle of Geretto pinot grigio ($23), which was pretty decent, but by far not the most expensive on a wine list that can run all the way to $1,050, if a 2000 Chateau LaFleur is more your taste.
The menu included such appetizers as prosciutto and melon, pan-seared sea scallops with watercress, and soups and salads. I decided on the grilled jerk shrimp on sugarcane skewer with black bean salad and mango coulis for the appetizer. For $11, I was expecting to at least be able to share it with my date, but the trio of shrimp on a bed of cold, undercooked black beans left us both wanting more.
The entree list was only a little more extensive and not for vegetarians, for sure. Every dish centered on fish, beef, chicken, lobster, or pork. Dishes such as seared ahi tuna with angel hair or molasses marinated grilled pork tenderloin all sounded very tempting, but for the main course I figured I couldn’t go wrong with halibut. One of my fellow dinners also ordered the pan-roasted Alaskan halibut with crab and leek raviolis. We were both unimpressed with the blandness of the fish and neither of us touched the soggy raviolis.
Another diner ordered the blackened Louisiana red fish with chive pancakes. The fish was spicy and overall quite tasty, but he had to eat around the buttery sweet corn sauce that soaked and overpowered the entire dish.
One diner in our group was smart enough to order the grilled rib-eye with roasted potatoes. The steak was tender and flavorful and the crispy potatoes were an excellent addition. He was satisfied with his meal and highly recommended it.
There was an option to order the five-course chef’s tasting menu for $60 or add wine for $85. This option probably would have been a better idea, seeing as how with two of us our appetizer, main courses, dessert and wine ended up topping $100 (with tip, our bill ran $124). It would have been worth the extra money, I think, to let Executive Chef Derek Nacey choose the dishes for us.
After the sun went down, the breeze on the patio was nice. It would have been an excellent place to dine that night if it hadn’t been for the bikes below us.
We ordered two desserts to share between the four of us, both of which impressed. The creme brulee and the raspberry chocolate cake with ice cream were most definitely the highlight of the meal. We all ate every bite of the dessert and topped it off with a coffee. We finally left the restaurant after about an hour and a half of
When the bill came we all agreed that the quality of the food did not match up. I would recommend Theo’s as a place to stop in for a drink and a dessert on the patio, but nothing more. Theo’s has a full bar and a wide variety of wines can be purchased by the glass.
Theo’s American Kitchen
318 N. Campbell Ave.
Based on our experience, go with the five-course chef’s tasting menu, or get a steak. Desserts are a sure bet.
5 p.m. to close Monday through Saturday.
Expensive. Credit cards accepted. Full bar.