Billy Mac’s is opening June 10. I’ve already posted about my fears that this will be the same old, same old: a Eugene restaurant that serves the same stuff that every other place in town serves. It looks like I was right. But tapas, you argue, they’re serving tapas. And I say TAPAS?! Why in the ethnic-food-diverse world? Has Eugene finally caught on to the Bay Area hot trend of…1999?

I’m sorry I’m preemptively bitter. But when I see that the McCallums are redecorating with family pictures to recreate a bit of Eugene gone by, I get really grumpy, rite quick. And last week’s Register-Guard headline, “El Vaquero back to its own ways,” didn’t help much. (Maybe that’s where they got the tapas idea.) The owners of El Vaquero decided not to sell and instead dump the expensive yuppie menu (good idea) and go back to the old menu (bad idea). Eugene, Eugene, Eugene, Eugene, Eugene. There are more than two ways to skin a cat.

And since I’m bitter today, I’ll just make a brief comment about a restaurant owned by another group of locals who is trying to do the same old, same old with pizzas and pastas…or rather trying to make meals you can make at home and charge restaurant prices for them. We finally made it to Pasta Ravello. Good god. I haven’t had a meal that dreadful in a long time. The space is nice, but it ends there. Indifferent service, slow kitchen (on a night where we were one of two couples in the restaurant), a wine “special” that was a scant glass of the dregs of a bottle of their priciest wine, a pizza with sauce so sweet it was like candied tomatoes, a spaghetti and meatballs special that was large, boiled (??) grey, under-seasoned meatballs with no more than a third of a cup of sauce over a huge mound of pasta, and Caesar salad that was nothing short of revolting. Thank god they served a lemon with it; we squeezed it on top and pretended it was wilted greens. Unsalted. Peh.

New blood, Eugene Restaurant Powers-That-Be, new blood!


9 thoughts on “sigh.

  1. Molly 6 June 2008 / 10:44 pm

    I’m glad you’re here to warn us about these things. I had hopes for Pasta Revello — not high ones, necessarily, but hopes nonetheless — but I cannot stand overly sweet sauces. Sad.

    I’m contemplating going to the blandly named Billy Mac’s on Tuesday just … because. Because it’s there, and I never went to the other places despite living three blocks from them. But … yeah.

    (I just skimmed the Vaquero article and nearly fell off my chair at “citing such offbeat selections as macaroni and cheese.” Oh, the sarcasm! So nicely done!)

    I’m still curious but wary about Café Maroc and the new pizza joint. I think. I’m pretty sure. But lately I seem to spend all my going-out money on booze instead of food, really.


  2. Eugenia 7 June 2008 / 9:50 am

    Sometimes I think the R_G is purposely trying to be funny with bad writing. Hard to tell.

    I’m curious, too, about Café Maroc, and the new pizza joint — do you mean the ice cream parlour renovation? That one has me trembling in fear.

    We’re spending all of our money on eating food *in* lately. So sad.


  3. orsunshine 14 June 2008 / 8:54 pm

    I visited Cafe Moroc, and we really enjoyed it (really — not just blowing smoke up anyone’s derrier).

    Sorry I didn’t properly prepare you for Pasta Ravello — I think that their best dish really is the mushroom sauce on pasta. Boyfriend tried one of the pizzas and wasn’t impressed… I guess I need to learn to be more harsh in the reviews.


  4. Molly 26 June 2008 / 9:07 am

    So, have you gone yet? To my amusement (read: slight horror), it’s not actually tapas. It’s, er, smaller things than burgers, shoved under the tapas heading. At least, if memory serves.

    The fries are good, though. If you like the battered kind, which I unapologetically do. And the deck is rather nice. And I like any servers who don’t look at me like I’m batshit when I order a veggie burger with bacon (I just can’t do that much ground beef).


  5. orsunshine 30 June 2008 / 8:42 am

    Follow-up on Pasta Ravello… I went by last week and noticed a sign on the door that said they were redoing their menu. So we weren’t the ONLY ones that thought the effort was a bit misplaced and poorly executed. I’m interested to see what the changes bring.


  6. Mark 11 July 2008 / 10:45 am

    Is that the PASTA RAVELLO near St. John the Wonderworker ORTHODOX Church (the one with the nice bell tower and the bells rung ‘live’ often?) and near THE HUB?

    mark jaquette


  7. Claire 12 July 2008 / 10:07 pm

    Cool, a eugene blog about food. I’m interested!

    Found you by searching for ‘Cafe Maroc’. Only a month ago, my husband and I were sitting in a Moroccan restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC and wondering why Eugene can’t have a decent Moroccan restaurant. And then today, looking for a non pretentious place to have lunch with my MIL, I stumble upon Cafe Maroc (sadly closed for lunch). I remain hopefully.

    This reminds me: Stay away from the Rogue brewery. Their menu sounded appealing at first (even if the prices of their hot dogs and Kobe hamburgers were rather… surprising, for a brewery, at lunch time). We went with the fish tacos, for $12.95, which the waiter told us we could easily share.

    I swear to god, when the plate came out and she put it on the table, I nearly fell out of my booth in astonishment. Here were a few shreds of lettuce, a tablespoon of salsa in a tiny cup, a tablespoon of sour cream, maybe two or three tablespoons of shredded cheddar, and certainly no more than 1/3 cup of crumbly halibut. And four 3″ diameter baby soft taco ‘shells’.

    We ended up with two 3/4″ rolled tacos in our hands, barely enough to feed a small baby, and an empty plate in front of us. (These tacos were smaller than the little Jack in the Box 2 for 99 cent tacos)

    We laughed about the ridiculousness, couldn’t help but say something to the waitress when she asked, got another tiny bit of fish for free (in total we got about 4 ozs fresh, maybe 3 ozs cooked, to split between us), and left, having paid $12.95, and considering having lunch again, elsewhere.

    So yeah: Rogue Brewery? No thanks.


  8. Jim 24 December 2008 / 8:31 am

    What is everyone bitching about? It is simply supply and demand. If people don’t go there…

    It amazes me what passes for food in this town. But that fact is simply this town…we don’t have a place to buy a mens suit…and we don’t have a taste for food.

    That is my conclusion…that fact is we only have 6 or so restaurants that know how to produce edible food at all – and that number includes a taqueria down on Blair Street.

    Hey, maybe we can open another PF Changs – yahoo…

    Unfortunately, that is just Eugene.


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