Not Top Chef
I've heard many great things about the Cogan's in Norfolk, but never made it over. So, it was with great excitement that I discovered a second location newly opened in the Harbour View development in Suffolk.
The draw is two-fold: pizza and beer. With that in mind, I grabbed two of my favorite men-folk to test the waters. We met up on Cogan's patio, where they were soon narrowing their choices on the latter. With 100 bottled and 6 on draft-- no easy feat! Our server soon returned to take our drink orders. She also added that the fryer was down-- this pretty much excluded the appetizers, with the exception of bread sticks.
They were out of the first two beers Jeff ordered, but finally came through with a Rogue draft ($3.50). Dave crafted an homage to the black & tan: a mixture of Guinness ($5) and Strongbow hard cider ($3.50). I settled for a simple glass of St. Michelle riesling ($4), which was quite light and nice for just sipping.
After all the confusion, our server was ready for our orders. I asked if a large salad would be enough to split three ways? "Oh, we don't have any salads tonight," she said, hoisting her pad. We laughed in amazement, and Dave asked how on earth does one run out of salad. She told us they had everything-- except the lettuce.
Our choices were becoming increasingly limited, so we simply ordered a couple of different pies. While she gathered the menus, I glanced over at the bar, visible through long windows. Crimson red walls and dark furniture gave it that upscale-dive kind of ambience, and was fairly humming with people laughing, smoking and drinking. There was also a tv in the corner, which proved useful as our wait stretched slowly along.
At the mid-point, I headed inside to use the bathroom. The dining room was very open and colorful, while the rear was lined with pool tables in a funky, space monkey vibe. I also noticed that there was only one table, a six-top that had been occupied since we first arrived.
Almost an hour after being seated, our pizzas finally came. A girl can forgive a lot when a piping hot pie delivers on its promise of goodness. Unfortunately, this pizza reneged.
The Pirate's Booty ($19) looked great, the crust golden and puffy. Pepperoni, sausage, salami, onions, black olives & mushrooms snuggled into their double sauce and cheese bed. The men pulled out their slices and dug in. Then stopped, and flipped the slice over.
The bottom was burnt. Not a little, and not charmingly charred in a spot or two- it was pitch black:
I turned to the second pie, the Mediterranean ($15). With a name like that, you won't be surprised to find spinach, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic and feta.
The surprise lay beneath, another unappetizingly blackened bottom. I took a bite.
The toppings where nice on their own, but the incinerated crust obliterated any other flavor .
Our server came by to see how things were. Upon being told that both pies were burned, she grabbed the stainless steel pie server, and peeked under both crusts.
"Oh yeah," she said, "that's pretty burned. They've been coming out of the kitchen like that all night. I don't know what's going on back there!" With a shrug, she went back inside. Needless to say, we didn't finish the pizza, or take any home.
This unfortunate night reminds me a lot of CJ on season 3 of Top Chef. I liked the guy, found him friendly, humble and enjoyable. I wanted him to win, I wanted him to do well. Yet, during his last challenge, he sent out food that was blackened and inedible. He cooked it, he knew the problem, but still sent it out. The judges did what they had to when presented with inedible food-- they sent him home. In the restaurant business, you're as good as the last meal you send out.
Cogan's... please pack your knives, and go.
Cogan's Harbour View
5860 Harbour View Boulevard, Suffolk
Phone: 686-9500 Fax: 686-9412
Specialties: pizza, subs & pasta
Price range: appetizers: $3-$8.50; salads: $3-$8; pasta: $6-$8.50; sandwiches: $5.50-$7.50; subs: $6.50-$7.50; pizza: $14-$19
Hours: 11:30 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Friday/Saturday
Alcohol: beer, wine, full bar
Smoking: smoking permitted in the bar, patio and part of the dining area
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Payment: cash, credit cards
Noise level: conversational- noisy
Additional Information: large beer selection, delivery ($12 minimum), large orders welcomed (call ahead)
Star rating: food 2 1/2, atmosphere 3 1/2, service 2
(out of five stars)