Thursday, August 23, 2012
CAFETERIA WAR...MCL VS. GRAY BROTHERS.
The Legend in Irvington had the best I have ever had. Then Gray Brothers in Mooresville got some heavy promotion from the front seat. When I revealed that I had never been there, the car just started off and 45 minutes or so later we were there. We get there and there is a line out the door. We wait and wait and wait, the line isn't moving much at all. Once inside the building, yet more waiting, with wooden queues wondering back and forth like at Kings Island. These appear to be as old as the building itself. Watching people sit their diapered kids on them and slide them along wasn't helping my appetite. I couldn't wait to get to the hand sanitizer. While caught in this time warp I wondered to myself how this place was going to stack up to MCL. My pal G. took out the smart phone and did some checking on Yelp and UrbanSpoon. Lots of praise for Gray's mostly, and ups and downs for MCL. As I'm reading them, I'm asking myself if these people had been to an MCL in the last 15 years, or have they ever even been there at all. If this line ever gets to the food, I can't wait to give it a try. FINALLY...the light at the end of the tunnel. Salads start off the gauntlet. Gray's: mostly small bowls of pre-made offerings, and some jello as well. I almost always get a tossed salad and I passed. MCL: Several salad nice choices that are pre-made (Cobb etc.) as well as two custom salad selections with a real person there to customize it with croutons, cheese etc. Next up ENTREES: I knew I had to get Fried Chicken, not just because everyone said it is good, but because I've had it countless times at MCL. I got a three piece selection and some mac and cheese to go with it. Looking at the other veggie sides, they all screamed CANNED. MCL always seems to have one or two fresh veggies, either broccoli, green beans or corn on the cob in season. The rest of them are also probably canned as well, but the fresh options are very welcome. I finished off with some iced tea. At the checkout there was no sticker shock. It kills me when I mention MCL, the first thing people gripe about is the cost. First off, this isn't the $3.99 Chinese buffet or Golden Corral. Prices are clearly marked, and, DUH, if you order one of everything it's gonna rack up. Same at Grays. I didn't notice, but I'm sure Grays has specials. At MCL it's called a Mayfield plate with an entree and sides for a special price. So if you're watching the $, check for the specials. Once we got seated it was dig in time. It was two chicken vs. two fish at our table. My first two chicken pieces were great, but my third piece had been sitting there for ever. I am sure that if I would have mentioned it to any of the many servers walking around they would have gladly replaced it, so that' no biggie. The mac and cheese was fine, nothing to brag about, a little soupy for my taste, but OK. Even the M&C front seat braggers said it was a bit sub par. I was offered a taste of the fish after neither of my friends seemed too thrilled about it. Once again, it was OK. What was fantastic was the potato side dish that G. had. WOW....cheesey potato heaven. I could have made a meal just out of that. The tea was fine, and was kept filled the entire evening. But, if you haven't had it before, MCL uses an IRANI tea that is so clean and crisp, you'll wonder why you ever put sugar in your iced tea. I didn't get a dessert, but sampled a couple of options. Both were very good and obviously made in house. I'm not a big dessert person, but I would say that Gray's would win by a slight margin. The cinnamon rolls at MCL are fantastic and only .99. The VERDICT: In my opinion MCL wins hands down. If I lived out Mooresville way and had a group of people to try and satisfy, and they wanted to stand in a line for OK food, MAYBE. The service at Gray Brothers was non stop, pleasant and thorough. MCL isn't staffed as heavy in the dining room, but I cannot ever remember feeling ignored. Dont hesitate to leave your comments.