We don’t think anything of finding a strip of paper with words on it inside a cookie; we expect it at the end of a Chinese meal. But finding one mixed in with the shredded pork at a barbecue restaurant is somehow off-putting. That’s what happened to me when I stopped in to check out the new Wildside BBQ Bar & Grill in College Park. It was not a fortune inside a cookie, but it was an unfortunate circumstance.
I had ordered the sampler platter, which includes ribs, chicken and a choice of sliced beef or shredded pork. I went with the pork. The platter also includes fries and a side dish of cole slaw. I had pretty much eaten as much of the platter that I cared to when it appeared the pork was trying to tell me something. It looked to be a tiny strip of plastic with some type. I could clearly make out the letters cra but the last letter was obscured. I scooped it up with my fork and snapped the picture that you see below.
I waited for my server to come back around and I showed him the fork. Then he showed it to a manager. The manager said, “That shouldn’t be in there,” which somehow didn’t make me feel any better about the situation. He, of course, removed the entire charge from my bill, which was the least he could do, and was the most that he did.
I wish I could say that I had been enjoying the food up until that point, but the fact is that both the shredded pork and the ribs were on the fatty side. The chicken was nicely done. The slaw was bland. I expected better from Wildside, whose barbecue I’ve praised in the past. I also expected better for the $18.99 that most people who don’t find a foreign object are asked to pay.
Wildside took over the space that Harmoni Market vacated earlier this year. The new occupants took out the wall that divided the cafe from the erstwhile market space, creating a big, open room with a central bar area. There is a faux skylight of stained-glass on the ceiling and lots and lots of big-screen televisions hanging from overhead. I liked the feel of the restaurant, although I did not find the booth I was sitting in to be very comfortable -- I felt every movement of the person seated in the booth behind me.
Foreign objects in food are unfortunate but it sometimes happens. It would have been nice if the manager had stopped back one more time to apologize, or if the server, who I passed as I left, had offered regrets for the incident. I’ve liked the Wildside in Thornton Park, and I doubt that this episode will deter me from going back to either one (there’s another in Kissimmee that I’ve never been to and probably won’t visit anytime soon).
To be honest, the strip of letters wasn’t the most disturbing thing I read during my visit. What I found even more unsettling was what was written on a card attached to a table stand that held the sauces and condiments. It read: Wildside Sushi.
I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong.
Wildside BBQ Bar & Grill College Park is at 2305 Edgewater Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. This link will take you to the Wildside BBQ website. The phone number in College Park is 407-730-7963.