cavalier diner - 1I can say without hesitation that our recent trip to the Cavalier Diner on Emmet Street (previously Sam’s Kitchen) resulted in one of the worst meals we’ve had in Charlottesville. Or anywhere. It was so bad that for the few belchy hours that followed Erin kept asking me if I thought she was going to get sick. I forced a smile and assured her she didn’t eat enough for that. But I wondered.

The first sign of trouble is when you walk in. It’s nice enough from the exterior, and the interior actually isn’t terrible to look at. The problem is that it’s not so nice to smell. I don’t know how to describe it — something like grandma’s bathroom with a spritz of cheap air freshener and a whiff of salty egg on top. It gives me the shivers just to write about it.

Omelette and hash browns look decent until you eat them.It’s almost not worth describing the food, but here it is: The greek omelette with feta and tomatoes had a suspicious fishy taste to it, the hash brown patty was nice and crispy on top but like flaccid worms underneath, the chocolate chip pancakes had a chocolaty finger print or two on top, and the bacon! My dear Lord, the bacon. I’m no animal rights activist but it’s so sad that a pig had to die for that flavorless cardboard. Erin commented that the pancakes and bacon together looked like a fake plastic food set and I’m still not convinced they weren’t. Oh, and the coffee and tea were watery and old.

The saddest part was that the service was very nice. The table was a bit sticky, and I can’t say much about the owners — they were a little stand-offish — but our waitress was very prompt and sweet.

I suppose it’s not a total surprise. No one has said anything especially good about it (see Yelp), and you can pretty much bank on the mediocrity of any restaurant with “Cavalier” or “University” in the name. Wahoowhy oh why?

Erin says: “Blech.”

award_star_gold_3 16Rating: Erin: Jed:

thumb_up 16 iconPros: Nice waitress, kitchen open until midnight on weekends.

thumb_down 16 iconCons: Everything else.

money_dollar 16 iconPrice: Breakfast for two < $20.

car famfam 16 iconParking: Usually enough parking in front or behind the building.

phone 16 iconContact Info

View Larger Map

camera 16 iconPhotos

newspaper 16More Info