Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Review: Bud Foster's Restaurant

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.


daryl said...

Why does everyone have such high expectations of Bud Foster anyway, no wonder you are all disappointed.

JD said...

Of Bud or of the restaurant?

Look at some stats and you'll see why; but it definitely didn't translate into the care he put into his business.

nick said...

i agree, wasn't impressed, menu was limited, first time they charged me wrong price and had to correct it.

JD said...

Glad to see I wasn't just cranky that day. Sucks that they've been open a while now and still haven't corrected any problems.

I do have to say though that a high-up manager from the company that owns B-dubs called me after I complained online about the service I had there recently. He told me they have retrained 95% of the staff there and sent me a $24 gift certificate to go back and try them on, so I'm hoping things are back to normal there.

M.C. said...

First off, Bud Foster doesn't own the restaurant. Maybe you should all figure that out first before you go ranting on...
Second, yeah you didn't like it the first time, the restaurant had been open for all of like 10 days, all restaurants take a few weeks to work out kinks.
The food is awesome now, their prices are cheap and you get a lot of food.
It was always primarily a restaurant before a bar and at the Beanery no one liked sitting so close to the door to begin with. If you didn't like your table instead of bitching on here, why didn't you ask for a better table? And there are just as many booths as there were before except they took 3 out. Big deal.
Most restaurants don't have televisions in the dinning area anyways, if you want to watch tv go home or to the bar!...
Go back and try it again, and stop hatiing on Bud Foster, he is the best defensive coordinator in college football

JD said...

First off, you're absolutely wrong. Bud Foster does have part ownership in the restaurant. See the Roanoke Times article that says he has a "vested interest" in the restaurant:
I realize he doesn't have much to do with the day-to-day operations, but still, if I were going to put my name on a restaurant, I'd want it to be a good representation.

Secondly, yes, I went there when the restaurant had first opened, but I wasn't aware people opened restaurants without first having a plan in place for its operation.

Thirdly, almost all restaurants nowadays have TVs in the dining area, even though they may closed caption them, which is ideal. That's a minor thing... the service and food quality was the biggest problem that I noted in my post.

Finally, I'm not "hating on Bud Foster." I even mentioned that I think he is a great defensive coordinator and that I wished his restaurant was of the same quality. There is no better college football defensive coordinator in my mind. I really like Bud Foster, and I love the Hokies. The fact that they food is extremely bland has nothing to do with Bud Foster's coaching abilities. The dishes at the restaurant are unimaginative and tasteless, and they definitely don't warrant any return visits unless they've added something to the menu and changed their recipes since I dined there. This is, yes, just my own opinion, which I'm entitled to, and you are of course entitled to your own. However, anecdotally, I have spoken with at least half a dozen other people who have had a bad experience at the restaurant and who think the food is nothing special compared to some of the other great restaurants we have in Blacksburg such as Bogen's, Poor Billy's, Awful Arthur's, etc.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your comments. But do please try to keep them a little more pleasant and audience-appropriate, and do try to make your arguments at least somehow well-reasoned. You did mention that perhaps I should go back and try the restaurant again. Perhaps when Bud Foster's Restaurant decides to get with the 21st century and get a Web site where I can look at the menu and maybe even fill out a comment form, then I'll give it a go 'round.

M.C. said...

I do invite you to go back and try the food; all the recipes were re-worked and they have added specials like a crab crusted smoked swordfish with a sundried tomato cream sauce? Not special enough for you? Half of the originial serving staff is gone and almost 90% of guests now say they will come back.
Bud Foster's is working on a website as you speak.
And don't believe everything you read, he does not own the restaurant or have a single percentage of ownership. He has an invested interest because it is his name.

JD said...

It does indeed sound intriguing. Perhaps I will give it another try soon. Thanks again for reading.

JD said...

Note to those who have commented or plan to comment: Please see the red update note text at the top of this blog post. Its content is currently under contention. Though I haven't changed my opinion of my initial visit to Bud Foster's Restaurant, I am willing to admit that things may have changed since then. I plan to go there again sometime soon and will write another blog post regarding my visit.

JD said...

See the new update note at the top of this blog post if you're still interested in this topic.