I got tipped off about Cinder’s opening by my coworker Ryan, a wannabe-Petworth resident and native Texan. [Note: he’s not a wannabe resident of Petworth, he’s a resident of a neighborhood that is trying too hard to associate itself with Petworth]. Cinder is new but advertises its 15-hour brisket. Shut up and take my money, Cinder! Out of concern for our ability to procure the aforementioned 15-hour brisket (we’ve been burned by late arrivals at smokehouses before), we made plans to arrive at exactly 5 p.m. That brisket would be MINE, ALL MINE!
Cinder exists in what used to be Ruta del Vino (forever in our hearts), but they’ve tried to make it look more BBQ-y with some crazy crap on the walls and some exposed wood and whatnot. The menu revealed a long list of whiskeys and bourbons, so we were all gearing up for liquid dessert before even ordering dinner. Everyone found a beer on the list they wanted and we ordered at the bar. They seat you with menus and deliver the food to your table but you still have to stand up to order from the bartender for no apparent reason.
They had 3 Stars on draft so my FIL and I each got one. My husband got an Avery in a can. Let me just post a picture of these beers and see if you notice anything weird…
Do you see how short and skinny their glasses are? It’s like some Piaget psychology experiment up in here (just a little developmental psych humor for all you preschool teachers out there). Can’t you just picture the owners cackling and tapping their fingers together Mr. Burns-style as they contemplate the epic ruse they’re about to pull off. “NOBODY WILL EVEN REALIZE THESE ARE TINY GLASSES BECAUSE THEY’RE THE WRONG SHAPE, MUAHAHAHAHA!!!” Not only were these not full pints, they weren’t even big enough to pour in the entire contents of a standard 12 ounce can (which probably explains why they seemed hesitant to even give me a glass for the canned beer. They knew it was only a matter of time before I discovered their deep, dark secret). Strike 1.
Cinder doesn’t offer mixed plates, but their entrees all come with a side and they had some interesting ones. I ordered the half chicken plate with mac. Husband got the brisket (of course) with the honey-sambal green beans. Everyone else had some variation on brisket. The baked beans were a popular side option. My mouth was watering thinking about my upcoming treat of Texas toast.
My chicken was one of the last to arrive. In the meantime, I got a sneak peak at my personal tiny-food hell.
I’m talking, like, Polly Pocket-sized food. Do you see this? It’s four slices of brisket. For EIGHTEEN DOLLARS. It pulled apart okay and had a nice crust, but didn’t have a smoke ring or smoky flavor, nor was it particularly moist. In what may be the biggest indignity of the entire meal, their Texas toast is just goddamn soggy-ass Wonderbread. My husband is rolling over in his grave! He’s not dead yet, but when he does eventually die, this meal will flash before his eyes, causing him to roll over from the sheer memory of perturbation. The spicy-sweet green beans were good, but AT WHAT COST?! ($18, in case you weren’t paying attention).
My chicken arrived. To their credit, this is legitimately half of a chicken. The meat was pretty moist too, although it was generally bland and absolutely needed sauce (the apple cider sauce was pretty tasty for what it was; the spicy sauce was not as advertised). It was served on top of the same horrific excuse for bread, which stuck like paste to the underside of my chicken.
The mac and cheese was creamy but, frankly, of little importance in the wake of the criminal price gouging that occurred earlier in the meal. And get this–all of this chicken was still cheaper than the brisket plate. I mean, eighteen dollars? Was the cow regularly bathed in Fiji water or something? Strike 2, 3, 4, and 5 (bland chicken, glue-bread, and brisket respectively. The brisket counts for twice as many strikes because it cost twice as much as it should have).
Price: Too much.
Bottom line: Okay, so the food wasn’t that bad, so if you are the type of person who lights cigars with Benjamins, by all means, get you some diamond-encrusted beef. I, for one, am looking forward to the next time Cinder changes hands and becomes, maybe, a quaint bagel shop or an upscale pupuseria.
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