Sermet's Corner: New and improved? Not so much.

New and improved? Not so much.

An anchor in the bevy of restaurants in Charleston has always been Sermet’s. This casual, unpretentious locale has recently undergone a remodel and we were excited to see the “new look”. It did not disappoint.

Gone is the heavy, wood-laden look which is replaced with a beautiful, contemporary interior. The restaurant is now full of light, gorgeous light fixtures, white pillars and ivory clothed seating. The difference is like night and day.

We dined with our friends Dennis and Ginger from Carolina Coastal Properties and they too, thought the place looked magnificent. We hoped the experience would be equally enticing.

From the beginning of our meal our server was “on the move”. He was quick to take our beverage order, recite the specials at a rapid pace and then take off. This was probably the most we saw of him the entire evening.

The four of us decided to split two “starters”. One was the sautéed Calamari tossed with Capers, Orange Zest, Tomatoes, Basil, Pesto and Fennel over Spinach. This arrived piping hot, but lacking its friend, the other starter, Sashimi tuna with pineapple. So we waited, and waited, and waited – no tuna.

About ten minutes later the tuna arrived. It was delicious as was the calamari, but the timing was seriously off. No sighting of our server either… (Note the pattern emerging).

As the restaurant filled with patrons the energy increased and although this is a small place, it has a ton of potential to be a great spot.

Our meals arrived and that’s when the wheels fell off of the bus. My friend and I ordered shrimp, mussels, calamari and chorizo sausage sautéed with a shaved fennel in a mild Sambuca-tomato sauce tossed with linguini pasta. We were delivered a seafood pasta dish served over couscous. Since there are 2 dishes with shrimp on the menu, our waiter clearly placed our order for the wrong seafood dish. Luckily the manager was the person serving our meal and she quickly removed the erroneous dishes and said it would be a few minutes before our correct entrees arrived. In case you’re wondering our server continued to be MIA. In hindsight we should have stuck with the dish originally served.

We encouraged everyone else at the table to enjoy their meals as we waited for ours to arrive. The Grilled Salmon over Baby Green with Grilled Pears, Crumbled Gorgonzola and apple with Champagne Vinaigrette was delightful. The salmon was a very large portion served over a fresh, crisp salad and as I waited for my pasta I must admit I had salad envy.

The Grilled Bone-In Pork chop braised in sweet tea and served with Gorgonzola Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes and accompanied by a sauté of cabbage and apple with smoked bacon was disappointing. The pork chop, though moist, was incredibly overcooked. Mind you our waiter said the chef recommends medium, which we requested. The mashed potatoes were cold and topped with a pile of crumbled gorgonzola that couldn’t melt on a dare. The cabbage with apples and bacon was a nice add, but hey, who doesn't like bacon???

The Grilled Bone-In Pork chop braised in sweet tea and served with Gorgonzola Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes and accompanied by a sauté of cabbage and apple with smoked bacon
Our pasta dishes arrived quickly but these tepid dishes were really nothing to write home about. Did we mention that we’d still not seen our server…?

The pasta dish was marginal at best. How could this dish be lukewarm if it was supposed to be “rushed” for us? And then… the answer came to us.

After we were finished and waiting for our check there seemed to be a commotion two tables down from us. One of the patrons was served our exact pasta dish only it looked exquisite. It was this heaping mound of pasta and people around her were commenting on it. It wasn’t the “hint” of pasta with lukewarm seafood that we’d received. It was a mile high pile of linguini that was steaming hot and the seafood appeared to be standing at attention. Now I had mad pasta envy.

I only wished that Sermet’s had taken the time to rectify the situation with us correctly. It appeared that they may have taken another patron’s entrée, split it in half and rushed it to our table. Although I commend the speed of service, I would gladly have waited for a great entrée to be served.

People that read this blog mention that I should speak up when things go wrong. I get that. Unfortunately we never saw the server again (even our water glasses were empty…), until we asked for the bill.

Sermet’s is a gorgeous place, not too expensive, but needs a lot of work. We’ll wait a bit until we return.

We gave Sermet's Corner 3 plates out of a possible 5.