I give the food at Chartwells’ April Mediterranean luncheon a poor 1.5-star rating. The lesson learned here is this: just because it is a $6 all-you-can-eat buffet doesn’t mean we should substitute quantity for quality.
The menu boasted that there were fresh rolls, but because they didn’t have any on hand, Chartwells chose to replace the rolls with cold pita bread slices that tasted store-bought. However, the pita bread was the least of Chartwells’ problems.
The worst offending dish was the so-called “creamy polenta.” Contrary to its title on the menu, the polenta was not creamy at all. Instead, it was a dry yellow clump. The polenta was bland and had the consistency of slightly dehydrated grits, and its flavor was made almost 100 times worse by adding salt.
The next item on the menu was chicken kabobs with mint, oregano, and garlic. The chicken was actually moist and well cooked through. However, it was incredibly bitter. I couldn’t taste the mint at all, and way too much garlic and oregano was used.
The grilled asparagus did not taste grilled at all. In fact, it appeared to be soaked in hot oil until the outside was soggy, and the inside had a bite to it that was not as sharp as if it were raw, but too tough to be cooked.
The ratatouille with cannellini beans and fresh herbs was actually palatable. It was a bit bland but a dash of salt fixed that. I also liked how I could taste the red pepper. However, I had a hard time figuring out if the little green disks were cooked cucumber or zucchini.
As far as the fresh fruit was concerned, the grapes were nice and ripe, but the cantaloupe was soggy. Chartwells also offered pineapple chunks and honeydew slices.
To be fair, the Mediterranean Greek salad was actually pretty good. My only complaint was that the cheese they used slightly overpowered the rest of the ingredients. However, it did not take away too much from the dish.
The other part of the meal I enjoyed was the chocolate chip cookie I had as part of dessert. Oddly enough, the cookie was not from Chartwells at all. The cookies were provided by a company called Hampton Creek Cookies.
I was not impressed by Chartwells’ excursion into Mediterranean cuisine, giving me yet another reason to avoid their monthly luncheon. No one should ever have to sacrifice their taste buds for their wallet, and I will never make that mistake again.