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.