Friday, October 28, 2011

Howlett’s Tavern

Festival Park Plaza
Chester, VA 23831
(804) 930-1034

*** Due to a recent experience at Howlett's Tavern, where I had a great time, had great service and excellent food, I hereby change the overall rating  from one star to three stars. I even think that I will revisit there in the furture.

            Last week I bought a Groupon for Howlett’s Tavern. I paid $25.00 for 1 appetizer and two entrees (a $55.00 value).  So this Tuesday, after a very stressful weekend, Amanda and I decided to use my Groupon and unwind a little. Little did we know that we would leave twice as frustrated as when we entered.
            Walking in Howlett’s, located in the Chester Village Green, it was well decorated and very inviting. The soft lighting and candles on each table created a very romantic atmosphere. We were seated and the hostess lit the candle on our table. It had all of the makings of a very pleasant dinner. Our waitress and a trainee arrived at the table quickly to take our drink orders.  I explained to them that we had a Groupon, so that there would hopefully not be any confusion.
            In a matter of minutes our waitress was back with our drinks and a loaf of delicious bread.  Because the Groupon included an appetizer we ordered fried calamari. I ordered the surf and turf with prime rib and the so called “Best Crab cake in Chesterfield County” with cole slaw and onion rings. Amanda ordered the New York Strip with steamed broccoli and onion rings. After we ordered, Amanda’s best friend Amy Sordellett walked up, she just happened to be eating at Howlett’s and noticed us. I had to use the washroom so I excused myself and let them catch up. When I came back Amy had rejoined her family. This was the end of the pleasant part of the evening.
            Our food arrived rather quickly. We received our Steaks and sides but did not have our Calamari yet. When, I asked the waitress what happened to our appetizer she informed me that I had not ordered an appetizer( I knew that I had because it was part of the ) but she would gladly put an order in for me. She apologized for me not ordering an appetizer at first. I was a little upset about this but let it blow by since we would still receive what we paid for though be it in the wrong order. 
            I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the food in just about every aspect, save the onion rings but honestly it’s almost impossible to ruin onion rings. My prime rib was very large but extremely flavorless. If it had not been for the au jus sauce it would have had no taste. The “Best Crab Cake in Chesterfield County” was the biggest lie I’ve ever heard. Not only was it not the best crab cake in Chesterfield County, it might be one of the worst crab cakes in the county.  It did not have jumbo lump crab meat but thin stringy pieces held together by a lot of filler and then deep fried. I would bet the crab cakes at Captain-D’s taste as good if not better.  Talk about false advertising. The cole slaw was very creamy and tasted of nothing but mayonnaise. The onion rings were the only part of the meal that was enjoyable. They were large, with a thick cut onion and a perfectly fired exterior. When we were half way done with our entrees, we were served our calamari appetizer.  Not only was the calamari served late, it was also extremely chewy so much so that some pieces were almost inedible.  It was served with marinara sauce and a white sauce both of which tasted excellent.
            Normally after such a lack luster meal I would be very upset. But I thought to myself, it wasn’t very good but at least Amanda and I both ate for $25.00 or so I thought. I knew something was amiss when the waitress came to the table to explain the bill. I knew that I had to leave a tip and pay for Amanda’s glass of wine but what she told me blindsided me.  She informed me that the “surf and turf” was not one entrée but a steak with a crab cake added on and add-ons do not count on the Groupon so I had to pay an extra seven dollars for the “Worst Crab Cake in Chesterfield County.”  To add insult to injury she also explained to me that there is an automatic 18% gratuity added to Groupons. Neither of these were explained to me until I received the bill. So on top of the $25.00 I paid for the Groupon, I had to pay another $25.00 for a total of $50.00.
            I should have saved this one as a Halloween Special because it was that ghastly, horrible and terrifying. Not only will I will never go back to Howlett’s Tavern but I will actively tell everyone I know to never frequent the establishment.  The food was bland, the service was horrible and they totally ripped me and everyone else who ever uses a Groupon there off.  Please never go to Howlett’s, I know it advertises very good specials and from the outside it looks very nice but it is truly a terrible restaurant with very low scruples.  You’ve been warned!!!



  1. Please note that I attended an event at Howlett's Tavern last night. I actually had a very enjoyable time. The food was very good and the service was excellent. The fried calamari was delicious. While I still beleive that Howlett's screwed me over big time in regards to my Groupon, they have a very nice, well trained staff and good food. I may even go back for an actual meal in the future, but I will not be using a groupon.

  2. Oh ya, and the scallops wrapped in bacon were to die for.

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