Restaurant Review: Rutledge Cab Co.

The first edition of the Talon original series, Restaurant Review, created by Davis Leath and Jack Levenson

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Restaurant Review: Rutledge Cab Co.

A nighttime view of Rutledge Cab Co.

A nighttime view of Rutledge Cab Co.

Robin Jarvis

A nighttime view of Rutledge Cab Co.

Robin Jarvis

Robin Jarvis

A nighttime view of Rutledge Cab Co.

 Welcome to Restaurant Review. As the name suggests, this series will follow our journey as we tour a variety of Charleston’s best restaurants. Avid restaurant connoisseurs and service industry employees alike, we feel it is our duty to share some of our wisdom with you. Each article will focus on one specific restaurant, and we have developed what could be considered the seminal restaurant rating system of our generation in order to determine whether or not these establishments live up to their reputations. For our first restaurant, we will be visiting Rutledge Cab Co, a casual sit-down spot located downtown and co-owned by Charleston’s very own Bill Murray. Boasting “outstanding food and service” at “Charleston’s favorite neighborhood restaurant and bar,” we take it upon ourselves to discover the truth in the first official installment of the Talon original series, Restaurant Review

 

Food

First, we’re going to be diving into the most important aspect of any restaurant: the food. Rutledge Cab Co. introduces itself as a casual sit-down style restaurant, and the type of food served certainly encourages that same informal vibe. Burgers, sandwiches, shareable appetizers, and more made up the impressive menus we were given. We decided both to get burgers because, at heart, RCC is a burger joint. In the name of diversity, we varied our choices- one shrimp burger, one blue cheeseburger- and an appetizer of poutine to boot (poutine is a Canadian dish consisting of fries, gravy, cheese, and sometimes eggs or other flavors). Overall, the food was pretty good. Unsurprisingly, the poutine was by far the best of the three dishes, with incredible quality fries topped with the perfect amount of gravy, cheese, eggs, and scallions. The shrimp burger similarly excelled at its mission of providing a local spin on the classic burger recipe. The blue-cheese burger, however, which was recommended to us by a former employee, brought the overall food score down significantly. When later asked about the wrongful recommendation, the employee stated: “I forgot to tell you to take off all the disgusting balsamic *stuff.*” While rich food can be good if done correctly, this burger was simply too much. Excess of flavor is not always good, and the heaviness of this dish really took away from the experience in general. This led us to give food a just above-average rating, based on the fact that having hit or miss dishes can really take away from the appeal of the restaurant. 

Service

Upon arrival, we waited at the hostess stand for about two minutes without attendance. “It doesn’t matter,” we told ourselves, “we’ll make sure to get a good table.” As it so happened, we were seated in a dimly lit area at the back of the restaurant. This came as a disappointment to us as we sat down in plain view of some open tables near the front of the restaurant, and it didn’t even end there. Of all the tables inside, we were led to one directly next to the open window to the kitchen, and the clanging of pots and pans was ever-present during our meal. Thankfully, the tide turned when our server, Mia, came to greet us with a smile. We were impressed with the relaxed and friendly manner with which she greeted us despite the busy Saturday lunch rush. However, after ordering, we were rarely able to get Mia’s attention. Perhaps we were a little ambitious in ordering a large plate of poutine, but the eighteen-minute ticket time for the appetizer was disappointing. Overall, our waitress was welcoming and competent but did nothing extraordinary. The experience was good for the most part, however. 

Setting

Rutledge Cab is at heart a self-selecting restaurant. In other words, you don’t just stumble upon it. Due to its location on the upper peninsula, it is not within walking distance of many pedestrian or tourist areas. However, parking can also be difficult due to the limited amount of space, an issue that plagues many of downtown Charleston’s eateries. 

Inside, the decor utilizes elements of exposed brick and ironwork with pictures of yellow cabs and other cars scattered on the walls. The bright, airy deck serves as a contrast, however, to the dim lighting and industrial feel of their interior. Furthermore, this contrast benefits the restaurant by further diversifying its seating choices and providing options for those who want them. 

In terms of the patrons, we had hypothesized before going that, based on the exterior image, it would host a young crowd. While we weren’t mistaken, we were pleasantly surprised at the number of families and older couples seated around the restaurant. This only benefited our perception of the setting, as the families acted somewhat as indicators that Rutledge Cab Co. was a place worth going back to. For the reviewers’ part, we tried to remain neutral in our judgments and gave the restaurant the benefit of the doubt from the get-go. After all, we came for the food. 

 

Employee Perspective

In order to get a true insider view of Rutledge Cab Co., we reached out to the former employee and senior Kasen Groves to get his side of the story. When asked about his thoughts on the restaurant, Kasen was able to give us some interesting details. 

 

Jack: “How were your managers? Did they do a good job of keeping the restaurant efficient, and how was the relationship between the managers and staff?”

Kasen: “The managers were really cool. They were super chill and relaxed but still made sure everyone was doing their jobs well.”

 

Davis: “Would you say that the kitchen did a good job of getting food out on time?”

Kasen: “We had a 20 minute ticket time limit, and the kitchen did a pretty good job of getting things out on time.”

 

Jack: “When we went, they served out entrees within a minute of our poutine being brought out, and we were a little annoyed that they brought it so quickly after the appetizer. Was this common?”

Kasen: “Yeah that did happen a lot. There were lots of awkward times when we had to bring food out, and the customers wouldn’t want the food and I’d have to bring it back to the kitchen.”

 

Davis: “Would you recommend trying to get a job at Rutledge Cab Co.?”

Kasen: “Overall I probably would. The pay was good, the managers were generally pretty chill and despite often being busy it wasn’t a bad job.”

 

Davis: “Why did you quit?”

Kasen: “I was just sick of working, and the cooks messed up for a few weeks in a row”

Thanks to Kasen’s insights, we were able to get a truly comprehensive idea Rutledge Cab Co. operations, and we feel that this interview provided the final piece of information that we needed in order to finish and quantify the results of our ‘investigation’ into one of Charleston’s most renowned restaurants.

 

Conclusion and Rating

Overall, Rutledge Cab Co. successfully delivers on its promise of casual, relaxed dining in an upbeat setting. Though the food and service each have minor drawbacks, the restaurant should not be overlooked when considering options for a casual lunch or dinner with a large group. Additionally, the variety of food appeals to vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free members of your party.

Overall Restaurant Rating: 6.9/10

 

Davis:

Food: 6.0

Service: 6.7

Setting: 7.5

 

Jack:

Food: 7.2

Service: 6.3

Setting: 7.7

 

Combined Final Rating:

Food: 6.6

Service: 6.5

Setting: 7.6

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