Friday, April 24, 2009

The Ebb and Flow of Hamburgers

Or at least the strange ebb and flow of Dry Creek. One minute it’s accolades; the next thumbs down all around. Everyone wants to go; no one can stand it. Is there anyone who doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with this Creek? I admit I do. I love the patio but hate the service. I love the burgers but hate the cheese steak.

This back-and-forth relationship often leaves me wondering if I am missing something? Are there enough people that choose burgers over service to keep this place afloat? Is it the sheer fact that they have one of the biggest breakfast patios in The Heights keeping them open? Do they sell that many coffee drinks? I want to go and then always reason that I don’t want to go just to have the service tick me off. Will it ever get consistently good?

Now, one thing to mention before I proceed is that a lot of the families on the Heights Kids Group forum had a huge discussion about Dry Creek several months ago. The comments were not friendly and one industrious mother put them all together and emailed the owner. It wasn’t long after that we saw signs go up at the restaurant with an email address for comments on service. The time we went after that, stellar. The next time, the same old. The time after that, worse than the same old. As of today, it’s been a while…

Tonight was just one of those nights. Mama had a pregnancy craving which couldn’t be denied. It was already late when the hubby got home. Someburger was closed and a trip to someplace like Southwell’s wasn’t going to work for us. The weather was a breezy 78 degrees and old Dry Creek was calling our names. We decided to see if there had been improvement since our last visit.

It is Tuesday as I write this and it was all quiet on the Dry Creek front when we arrived. Despite the gorgeous weather, the sun was strong and the patio umbrellas were, themselves, falling down on the job. We chose a table inside and were greeted quickly. One in the win column as this is usually where the meal starts to go awry at DC. We got drinks and read our menus. Our orders were taken promptly and we waited. This may seem like no big deal, especially since it was a quiet night, but 10+ years in the restaurant industry has proven that when it’s slow, servers get lazy. You are more likely to get poor service on a quiet night than a hectic one when a place has its adrenaline pumping!

Tonight they had an expediter in the kitchen. This is helpful, even if she was eating something while she was standing in front of the line. Hey, I’m no Marvin Zindler. Again, a decade in kitchens and I forgive things a man with blue tinted glasses just wouldn’t.

Our waiter had his own dinner while we were seated, as well. But he didn’t eat it in front of us and we didn’t go without what we needed. Ideal? No, but fine. Perhaps it was his hunger pangs than caused him to not bring my side of guacamole out before the food as requested. Maybe he thought he heard me wrong and was I really going to spoon feed my kid guac before dinner came? Either way, I was sad that my son would only eat fatty protein and fries when I wanted some of that green goodness in him before the grease hit the table.

As far as my burger… yeah. Perfect. Per my request, it was cooked a little more than I like it since I was sharing with the boy. It was still juicy and flavorful. The fries were wonderful- kind of crisp, nicely seasoned. Mmmmm. It really hit the spot.

The husband got a turkey burger with a salad on the side. He said it was “awesome.” He actually eats turkey and veggie burgers quite a bit and says it’s a challenge to get them not dried out. He loved this one and the salad was good, too. Nice greens, good dressing. Simple and solid. He also got a cherry-lime-aid. High marks for it as well.

We always expected the food to be good. It was a pretty simple night. What it did, though, was put us back in to the “Flow” category for Dry Creek. We’ll head back again soon and hope to keep up the positivity. Maybe now is a good time for you to try again too….

ADDENDUM: I wrote the above last week. Last night, Thursday, we went back to Dry Creek. We had plans with friends and they mentioned craving burgers. "Dry Creek has great burgers," I suggested. So, ugh. We had, coincidentally, the same waiter as last week. My husband's salad and the "fry basket" we ordered came out first as we requested, but for some reason the quesadilla appetizer didn't come out until dinners were served. It was clearly ordered as an appetizer. After our other apps came out we actually inquired as to the quesadilla's whereabouts. Our waiter said "Oh, it should be coming." Yeah, it came. Fifteen minutes later with our dinners.

I also have to make mention of my disappointment of the fried app platter we ordered. It had 3 mozzarella sticks, about 5 teeny onion rings (not the same onion rings they serve with the burgers) and 4-5 slices of zucchini. The zucchini wasn't cut in to sticks, but rather disks and only one piece was bigger than a quarter. It was not good and not worth the price tag.

There was another service issue last night as well. A busgirl was clearing the appetizer plates from our table and dropped the ramekin of red sauce from the fried platter. It hit the ground and splattered all over everyone at our table, especially my husband who was still in his work clothes. She just kind of looked at all of us, splattered with marinara, and said "Sorry. I'll get more napkins." Our waiter never apologized and a manager/supervisor certainly never came by to check on us. Again, I waited tables for a lot of years. I spilled more than my fair share of crap on people. I understand full well that accidents happen. It's how the accident is handled where things can go right or wrong. Once I dropped a whole tray of fajitas on the patio at this TexMex joint I worked at in Dallas. When the beef, grilled onions, rice, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream ricocheted all over the Happy Hour crowd, the owner bought a round of drinks and paid for everyone's dry cleaning. That's why, in a city as fickle as Dallas, this restaurant has been open for more than 20 years.

So, now my opinion that maybe the time is ripe to give Dry Creek another chance is wavering. Sure, go. Just don't want to eat your meal in courses and don't expect much help if something goes wrong. The friends we went with tonight live in The Heights and eat out a lot but had never been to Dry Creek for dinner. They liked the burgers enough, but they didn't seem impressed with the experience as a whole. I can't say I blame them.


  1. Have you tried Cedar creek yet? Their service is stellar- (counter-which is what you get at the "Creeks" and quite a bit larger than Dry Creek. I'm a huge fan of Gary and his business- but I'm not always thrilled with his various staff at OC and DC. BTW- they just expanded their breakfast menu at CC, and its fantastic!

  2. PS- I will say that they listen to feedback... When my twins were born, OC was the only place to go and grab a good burger (that we knew of.) I reached out to his staff members at various times to see if they could install a changing table in the ladies bathroom. After 4 months, and my pleading with his (female) manager at OC- they got one- AND... I never changed another poopy diaper on their couch again... :)

  3. Good burgers at Dry Creek?? How about DRY burgers at Dry Creek! If we're forced to go to DC (with friends), I'll order anything except the burgers because I find them so bland and dry. Too much bun and no juice at all! There are so many other truly good burger places in Houston to eat at!

  4. I think you have to take Dry Creek for what it is....a decent food place with a bring your own beer/wine option with a great outdoor patio. If you like all that, go. If you don't, don't. Service is spotty at all restaurants.

  5. My husband and I heard about Dry Creek's great burgers and decided to finally try them out a few weeks ago. The food was GREAT!!
    However, I must admit, I was disappointed in the service, too. From beginning to end, the waiter took forever to check on us.
    Also, I was CRAVING a lemonade and couldn't wait to order one--however, the waiter said they were "out"...well, this was about 4pm and I thought it was odd that they would run out so early, but took it for what it was and decided to try my hand at the limeades. Unfortunately, this was way too sour for me, so it was a huge waste.

    Once our food arrived, I notice another waiter taking a tray of 3 lemonades out to the, excuse me, I thought they were out?? So, when I finally was able to flag down our waiter, I asked him if they had lemonade. The response was "yes." That's it....

    I'm sorry, but when he first told me they were out, he didn't say--we're making more do you mind waiting a few minutes, he just said we're out. The fact that they suddenly had some 15 minutes later was frustrating. So, I asked him if I could now please have a lemonade in exchange for the limeade I had only taken a sip of--I was more than willing to pay for the higher priced limeade. However, we were pleasantly surprised when we got the check to see that he had made up for it by comping the drink completely.

    So, while that was a nice thing to do (and appreciated), it does not negate the fact that the place is not very big and it still takes forever to be checked on during the meal. We'll definitly go back because we loved the burgers and the atmosphere--but it would be great if they improved the service, too!

  6. So where is Cedar Creek? Haven't been there yet..

  7. Turkey or veggie burgers with vinegerette salad is the way to go here! I have not been disappointed in 3 years as my Saturday biking lunch stopover!

  8. I love the food at the Creeks and despise the service. I don't see why they can't manage to assign their servers a specific "area" so that you know who your server is. Laid back service I don't mind, "I hate my job and the customers" service I can do without.