After a couple weeks of slacking at the end of, we’re back with new restaurant reviews and recipes foron Food Snob. But first, we’ll cover a restaurant we visited at the end of last year. The Blue Note Grill on Chapel-Hill Durham Boulevard opened in—a blues cafe that dishes up dinner and live music six nights a week, as well as lunch Monday through Friday. We decided to check out the Blue Note Grill for its regular Monday night jazz jam a few weeks ago. Blue Note Grill has an eclectic regular menu consisting of burgers and sandwiches, barbecue, burritos quesadillas, and typical bar appetizers. They also have weekly specials.

I could probably start out with some words of encouragement and hope, but the best way to sum it up is this: the food at Blue Note Grill was pretty terrible. The ingredients were obviously of inferior quality—from the bland, industrial tomatoes, to the flavorless iceberg lettuce, to the cheap, white, preservative-loaded buns. I didn’t have high expectations for the food, but one can always hope for a surprise! It was already late for dinner when we arrived, and we were starving, so we appetized on some sweet potato fries. The fries, served with sweetened cinnamon butter, actually weren’t bad, but sweet potato fries are kind of hard to mess up. I personally am not usually prone to adding any kind of sweetness to sweet potatoes (I have never understood those sweet-potato casseroles covered in marshmallows and maple syrup and brown sugar. Why, why, why?), but Mr. Food Snob and I agreed: this wasn’t a bad pairing, and each of us could dip to our own preference.

So there: I did say something a less-than-entirely critical.

Round two: entrees. The burgers at Blue Note are made from 100% beef brisket, ground in-house daily. Freshly ground beef is usually a good sign, but the burger at Blue Note Grill, unfortunately, was the driest we’ve ever had. Really, EVER. And trust me, my mother had a special talent for turning a perfectly good piece of meat into a hockey puck. Blue Note’s burger beat mom’s record by a landslide. It was a dry, flavorless brick of meat. Mr. Food Snob didn’t even finish it, and that never happens. We had heard from Carpe Durham that the onion rings were decent, so Mr. Food Snob did swap them out for regular fries with his burger. And like the sweet potato fries, the onion rings weren’t too bad. They were sliced thick and had a good salty, crunchy coating. We were learning fast: stick with the simple fried foods that are hard to screw up. But who wants to eat that exclusively?

The quesadilla we ordered was one of Blue Note Grill’s several vegetarian options. It was a black bean quesadilla that came with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and guacamole on top, as well as a mild salsa on the side. Inside it was loaded with black beans, grilled onions, and a “three-cheese mix.” The makings of a good quesadilla seemed to be there, but the finished product lacked flavor and interest across the board. Despite being unimpressed with our food at Blue Note Grill, we thoroughly enjoyed the jazz combo and decided that if we ever returned we’d come just for the music, appetizers (yeah, the fried ones), and beer. Unfortunately (for BNG, but not for us), in the glorious city of Durham there are many great venues that can offer the complete package, and when we go out, I guess we just want it all. To survive in the thriving restaurant culture of Durham, Blue Note is going to have to raise the bar on their food.