Update June 1, 2009: This blog post has been updated with an even newer review of this restaurant. Just click here!
So I went to Bud Foster's Restaurant (named after the coach famous for his "lunch pail defense") in Blacksburg, Va., last Thursday evening for dinner. I had high hopes. After all, I loved Boston Beanery (though the location at my undergraduate school in Huntington, W.Va., was a little better), which was formerly in this location (right off Prices Fork beside Virginia Tech's campus). I also am a big fan of VT football, so it's only natural I was excited defensive coordinator Bud Foster had deemed a restaurant worthy of using his name. Unfortunately for the residents of Blacksburg, Foster doesn't seem to put the same care in the restaurant business as he does in the defense business.
From the get-go, I felt a little awkward in Foster's. During the restaurant's remodeling from Beanery to Bud's, they put a wall up to separate the bar from the dining area. So, you're led down a dark corridor into the dining area by the hostess. My date and I were seated at a table that wasn't quite out of this corridor yet — it was in the dining area, but barely. The dining area just seems so closed-in now. It's almost like they wanted to build a super bar, then decided to make a restaurant as an afterthought. There are a few booths, but most of the good seating has been substituted for awkwardly placed tables. And forget about Virginia Tech memorabilia or art — just plain walls. Yeah, in a VT coach's namesake restaurant, you'd think there'd be TVs or something in the dining area too so fans could watch football if they are eating there during a game. Nope, nothing. Above us, a bright, neon-white light reminiscent of a bug zapper blinded me while I tried to read the menu.
Speaking of the menu, the selection was very limited and has no where near the variety that Boston Beanery or other comparable restaurants still in Blacksburg had/have. Basically, you can have a run-of-the-mill appetizer, chicken with barbecue sauce, chicken with Asian sauce, chicken with... well, you get the idea. Oh, there's steak... and they have different cuts of it... like at every other restaurant, but without anything to add some uniqueness to the dishes. Of course, there are burgers and sandwiches, but nothing you can't get somewhere cheaper and better-tasting in Blacksburg. The seafood menu is really short, and well, if you like various meats smothered in Alfredo sauce, they have plenty of that.
Which bring me to my next point. I ordered the Alfredo pasta with roasted bell peppers, shrimp and crab. At $10.99, I expected a decent amount of meat in the pasta. I got exactly 10 shrimp — the tiny, salad-sized type. I had to dig around for about five minutes before I found anything that resembled a morsel (no, flake... no, sliver) of crab meat. The dish itself tasted extremely bland. There was no taste of garlic or anything else Italian that you'd find in a normal Alfredo dish — I've had much better cream sauce from a jar off the shelf at Kroger. Once in a while, you taste some Parmesan cheese, but that's just because they sprinkle it all over the dish to give it the appearance that they know how to cook it. I will say I enjoyed the rolls with cinnamon butter (not as good as Texas Roadhouse's), and my Caesar salad wasn't bad.
My date ordered a chicken club sandwich. It came with fries, but not with the ranch dressing that was supposed to be on the sandwich. Her description was, "It's a piece of grilled chicken with bacon on a bun. No seasoning, nothing, just bland. I could make this... better."
Our server was pretty attentive, and she was friendly enough. 'Nuff said.
Bud Foster's Restaurant advertises itself as an "upscale" restaurant. Yet, the tables had a salt and pepper shaker on them (no containers with sweeteners, you have to ask for ketchup if you want it, etc.) and you get one paper napkin unless you ask for more (the one your silverware is wrapped in). I suppose playing jazz music now qualifies a restaurant as being "upscale."
I don't think I'll be headed back to Foster's any time in the near future, if ever. It wasn't a totally bad experience, but the food just tastes like nothing, and the experience is nothing special. But it should be with a name like Bud Foster. Disappointing, to say the least. I'd point you to the restaurant's Web site so you can get some information for yourself, but they apparently didn't think joining us in the 21st century was worth it. I hear they have a site under construction, but with all the resources out there now, there's no reason not to have your menu and such online the day you open.
With the terrible service, food quality and menu decisions at Buffalo Wild Wings in Blacksburg lately, and the added effect of Foster's, it seems finding a good place to eat at Collegiate Square is now a lost cause.