Review: Mars Hill Cafe

We had put off reviewing Mars Hill Cafe on Cottage Hill Rd. before now because our former editor, Stuart Reb Donald, was the executive chef there.  Well that ended in December.  Still we waited a few months so that we could judge the cafe on it’s own merits but there is no way to not draw comparisons.  We made sure to go three different times to make sure to avoid to the occasional bad day that every restaurant has.

We had been to the cafe several times when Stuart was there and what we wanted to see were what changes had occurred without his leadership.  Gone are the weekly specials, homemade soups of the day and the Moroccan garbanzo bean salad.  In their stead is a menu that still features most of the great sandwiches (plus one new one), obviously canned soups, a different potato salad that is actually better than the old one which was already one of the best in town and a new broccoli crunch salad that is dreadful.

So the menu is essentially the same.  What is different is the quality of the food.  As mentioned the soups taste like cheap canned soups and even the famous fresh made salsa tastes like the same old jarred stuff everybody serves.  The hummus, though good, no longer has the depth of flavor it once had.  It lacks the herbacious punch that made it so good.  The Greek salad is different as well, I think it’s the dressing, it tastes heavily processed.

What hasn’t changed is the service.  It is still really bad.  Possibly even worse than ever.  The servers are inattentive at best and rude at worst.  There also seems to be a lot of bickering among the wait staff and no body wants to see that when they are trying to eat.  The managers spend most of their time sitting with their friends chatting rather than visiting the tables.

We understand that they have cut out catering which is understandable without a working chef on site.  They still pledge their profits to charity and that alone may justify eating at the cafe.  However, it is no longer worth going out of your way for the food and service alone.  It is clear that Mars Hill Cafe misses its talented chef (and our former colleague) Stuart Reb Donald.

Mars Hill Cafe is located at 5025 Cottage Hill Road, in West Mobile.

Phone: 251.643.1611

~ by azaleacity on April 23, 2010.

9 Responses to “Review: Mars Hill Cafe”

  1. Good review and accurate although I still go there because of the charity thing but the food is not as good as it used to be and the service is bad

  2. This review is dead on. The cafe has been seriously on the decline since the beginning of the year. Your reporting that the chef has left explains it. And you are right, that broccoli crunch salad is the nastiest thing ever.

    • no way the broccoli crunch salad is the “worst thing ever” have you tried their shitty chicken salad? that crap is funky and always has been

  3. I had never eaten there before last week so I have no memory of it being better. The food was okay but the service was terrible. It’s like they don’t care. If I want that kind of service I’d go to Olive Garden.

  4. […] the original here: Review: Mars Hill Cafe « Azalea City Food Blog By admin | category: Chapel | tags: are-teaming, before-now, cafe-on-cottage, […]

  5. A pretend church running a pretend restaurant. The whole place wreaks of tax scam. Don’t believe me? The next time you’re there ask them how much money they’ve raised for charity and to what charities they contribute. They freak out. I asked both times I went there – the first time the server just shrugged and said, “beats me” the second time another server stuttered and stammered but the gist I got from her broken English was that they have never made a profit.

    I guess it could be worse – they could be harboring pedophiles but I guess they are not a big enough “church” for that yet.

  6. The chef left? That explains why the food has gone down of late. Get him/her back!

  7. We’ve been going to Mars Hill for years and we know a lot of the people who’ve worked there. Stuart was an amazing chef and is the sole reason the restaurant didn’t go under a couple of years ago. When he got there they were lucky to have 10 or 12 customers a day. Once word got out about his food the place was packed. Mars Hill was the “it” place in town. Every where you looked Chef Stuart was there – on TV at charity events. Since he left it hasn’t been the same place. To be perfectly honest he is way too talented for a part time diner.

    Since leaving the cafe Stuart has published a cookbook that has been nominated for a International award. Meanwhile the cafe keeps sliding down hill.

  8. I was doing some early Christmas shopping at Pet Stop the other day and decided I would stop in and give Mars Hill another shot. What a waste of time and money. It’s gone from great to mediocre and now it has gone to outright disgusting. One of the worst meals I’ve had in a very long time. I’ll never go back to Mars Hill again.

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