Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wild Oats Taproom Simpsonville

I hate that I don't have any pictures of the group dinner we hosted at Wild Oats Taproom in Simpsonville, but at the same time it may be for the best. You see, I'd been to this location when it was Beef O'Brady's and when it was The Zone...so maybe there's a curse on it. Because although my experience at Wild Oats wasn't terrible, it also wasn't very good and to be honest I'll be surprised if Wild Oats is there a year from now...unless they change a few things up.

My first impression upon walking in was that the front/main room where the bar is located was a great little space. Unfortunately, we were seated in the back room and the ambiance did not spill over into this area. It's very open, the tables are spaced far apart (which in itself is nice but doesn't provide the sort of sense of "community" one would think to exist in a "Taproom" style restaurant and bar), there is little to no decor and even the TVs seemed too small and hung in odd places.

On top of that, there was trash all over the floor in the dining area (tons of napkins and visible crumbs), the counter in the bathroom was covered in giant puddles of water and the bathroom trash can was overflowing. Someone may need to remind them that they are running a restaurant and that even if they have an "A" rating on the window when you enter right now, they should keep up a proper clean appearance and remember that the right (or wrong, however you want to word it) person could walk in at any moment and would take that rating away if they saw this restaurant as I saw it that Saturday evening.

Service-wise I'll say that we did have a fairly large group (14 people) and our two servers, while a bit slow with drink refills and taking orders, did an okay job...though of course with everything else about this experience being average at best, *great* service would have been nice to write about...had it existed :-/

The beer selection - which of course Wild Oats Taproom is all about - was in fact pretty decent, especially for the Simpsonville area. I'd heard some people from Fountain Inn/Simpsonville complain about the prices, but to be honest they are still cheaper than downtown Greenville and I think patrons of Wild Oats need to remember that they're drinking craft beer and not Bud Light ;)

As for the food - well, to be honest the menu is all over the place and the couple of dishes we tried (for instance, quesadillas and a Philly Cheesesteak) were of average quality. I think that they have way too many options and should focus on a smaller menu and producing better quality food. When I say the menu was all over the place, I mean that they had the usual bar/taproom fare of the aforementioned Philly Cheesesteak, burgers, etc. but they also had random Mexican dishes on the menu that just...didn't seem to fit.

I think a restaurant and bar like this has great potential in the Simpsonville area - especially on Fairview Road, which is mostly populated by fast food and chain restaurants but also quite close to numerous new neighborhoods and more easily accessible by many Fountain Inn residents. I just hope that Wild Oats can take a look at what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong and make some positive changes before they go the way of the previous two restaurants who inhabited this space.

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