by Dark Starr

I watched with interest as Mr. Mort Poisson graced the virtual pages of Wormwood Chronicles with his vitriolic tales of cuisine misadventures in the Rockford area. In some ways I wished that I could write like that but personally I had never really had a meal bad enough to want to vent about in the Rockford area. Well, I have recently had the unfortunate turn of events that has placed me in a mixed bag spot of having experienced a restaurant worthy of throwing heaps of distasteful words at. You have to understand that for me to be driven to such a spot the venue has to have been one that truly angered and displeased me. Well, Five Forks Market is just such an establishment.

My better half and I were out and about on Rockford’s East Side recently and decided it was time to feed ourselves. So, we made the decision on a great restaurant that shall remain unnamed here. But we also figured that if we spotted a place we hadn’t been before we’d give it a shot. Well, that’s how we found Five Forks Market. We made our way in and I have to say the wine laden walls and tasteful atmosphere was perhaps clichéd, but nice. That was one of the two things that I can give kudos for.

Our waitress said that the place was unique – with only one other establishment like it in the Rockford area. Well, I have to say that I would love to know what this other place is because I’d really like to avoid it like the plague. I can’t imagine a worse thing than being compared to this joint.

Well, we ordered a bottle of wine and that was the other great thing about our visit. The wine was an excellent one at the great bottle price (for a restaurant) of fifteen bucks. That lead us to our dinner choices. We looked at the menu and found that everything was fairly pricey. Well, if we were going to do this, let’s do it. It sure seemed like a nice restaurant. Besides the waitress said the portions were good.

So, we started things off with a cheese platter. Billed as a selection of cheeses and bread with figs and honey we got just that. The bread was toasted. We got two pieces each of something like four different cheeses. They weren’t bad, but really you could get cheese that’s just as good for a lot less money under the name tag of “Kraft.” You have to understand, I’m a big fan of cheese. I like most of it and can definitely tell the difference between good cheese and great cheese. This fell firmly in the “good” range – and I should add that this little sampling (you did get a couple fresh fig pieces, some miniature grapes and a few pistachios in the midst) cost over twelve dollars. Twelve dollars for a couple pieces of toast, two pieces each of four or five types of average cheese and some honey with a few small bits of fruit. Come on, with the quality of that cheese they should have given you a whole half pound helping to make up for that price! Little did I know this would actually be the food highlight of the meal.

We ordered our main dinner items, too. I chose some skewers of grilled chicken with pineapple and my lady ordered some crab encrusted mahi mahi. Before she ordered she asked about the portion of the fish and was shown (waitress holding up her hands in a shape) something that looked like about the size of half a Long John Silvers fish plank. She was told you got three of those. Man, I wish we’d gotten the Long John Silvers instead.

Anyway, the food comes to the table. I get four skewers of the chicken and pineapple. There are three pieces each of chicken on these skewers. The pieces were small. I’d say that if you took all those pieces and put them together you probably had about a fourth of a chicken breast. Well, sometimes restaurants charge huge prices for small amounts of food, but the food is sublime. I foolishly figured that would be the case here. As to the portions on the mahi mahi – well, there were three pieces as promised. The problem is, they were probably about the size of two quarters each. Just a little nugget, and not anywhere near the size the waitress said they’d be.

So, what about the quality of the food? Well, the chicken tasted about like the same quality of food you could get down the street at Old Country Buffet – not great, but at the price and quantity you get at a buffet a good deal. For what we paid, though, two words, “rip off.” It was average quality, miniature portion and through the roof pricing. The thing was, even at that it was better than that damned fish. That was pure crap. It tasted terrible. There was really no flavor at all to it. If there was crab in the crust you couldn’t prove it by taste. There was no flavor to the fish or the breading except the feeling that you were eating a pile of block pepper. And both items came served over some yellow cous cous. I have to admit to not being a fan of that stuff at all, but usually it at least has some flavor. Well, you can’t say that of this crap. Eating a bottle of Elmer’s Glue would have given you a better taste experience.

So, the end result was we got a good bottle of wine at a good price. For our whole  meal, though, we spent sixty dollars and went home and ordered pizza. These people should come to the table to take your order armed with a gun because they are such big rip off artists. The waitress said that they never advertise. Well, I wondered why, but I think I have it figured out. They know damned well there are only a few people in this area that are stupid enough to pay that kind of money for that quality of food. They figure those people are already coming in and paying their salaries. Why waste their money on advertising to bring others in. Hey, if you are one of those morons – more power to you. I’d be more than happy to heat up a quarter of a can each of Campbell’s Soup and Van Camp’s Pork and Beans and serve them to you along with about a third of the entrée from two TV dinners and charge you seventy bucks. I’d make a huge profit and you’d get the same experience. Be sure to get in touch with me. We can put this together. For the rest of you – if you want good food and like value for your money avoid this place like the plague. The food is average, you get tiny servings and the prices are through the roof. I have to say that the pizza we ordered when we got home cost us a fourth what that meal did, tasted 500 times better and filled us up.