Fork in the Alley
Inside Fork in the Alley. The pizzas have been a major hit so far. Coming for football season: TVs inside and outside.
Fork in the Alley made me feel as though I were discovering a secret meeting location – maybe a speakeasy from the days of prohibition. To get to the restaurant you walk the down the alley off of Crystal Spring Avenue between the 7-Eleven and what is now the White House restaurant (formerly Eric’s on Crystal Spring). At the end of the alley is a quaint carriage house turned brick-oven pizza place/neighborhood pub.
The inside of the charming eatery is maximized to accommodate as many people as possible despite its small stature. It also sports kicky décor – most of which was created by Ann Trinkle, the wife of the owner of Fork in the Alley, Dr. David Trinkle.
On my first visit one Sunday afternoon, my husband Jim and I each had difficulty selecting one item to sample since there were so many unique choices available. The entrée, Jamaican Pot Pie described on the menu as “delicious island curry-herbed beef and ricotta pie,” tempted me, as did the many versions of hot dogs offered. The Astro Dog sounded particularly appealing as a half-smoke (half Italian sausage/half hot dog) with Dijon mustard, olive relish and cheese slaw.
Finally we both chose burgers – the mesa verde for me. The lean burger with queso blanco (white cheese), lettuce, tomato, chipolte mayo and guacamole was scrumptious. The flavors from the smoky, peppery mayo and guacamole deliciously complemented the burger.
This first visit was perfect. The food came out quickly, with each detail correct and drink refills happened promptly.
Then I visited with my husband again – this time at lunchtime during the week. I ordered one of their specialty brick-oven pizzas I’d heard so much about and Jim wanted yet another burger – sans mayo for him. After about 15 minutes without any food or word when the food might appear, our server told us that there had been a computer problem. Our order hadn’t gone through to the kitchen and it would be another 10 or 15 minutes. We were fine with that but getting quite hungry when our food finally appeared.
Jim’s burger had mayonnaise on it – a big no-no with him. So there was another 10-minute wait as they made him a new one. On the plus side, my Bolzano pizza was perfect. The sauce was fantastic and the chef was generous with the toppings of pepperoni, mushroom, kalamata olives, fresh tomato, garlic and mozzarella.
Despite the little snafu we had at lunch I visited again a couple weeks later with a friend for dinner on a Thursday night. Everything was much like the first visit. Our server was quick and efficient, the food was just as we ordered and came of the kitchen in a timely fashion.
The restaurant seemed to be running more smoothly most likely due to some recent changes, according to Trinkle.
“We’re very aware of the service issue,” says Trinkle. “It’s hard from a kitchen perspective to keep up with the demand but now we have prep cooks from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.”
Service problems are discussed in a bi-monthly staff meeting that manager Sam Eakin conducts.
“We talk about service issues, policies we set for employees and about how we can do things better,” says Eakin, who has been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years.
It’s been about talking and collaboration right from the start. Since renovations on the building took nearly a year, Trinkle and Eakin had time to experiment with entrees, plan the menu and tinker with the details that have made the restaurant fun and unique. One such detail is the Bose MP3 jukebox, which is a popular attraction at the restaurant.
“It has about two or three thousand songs on it,” says Trinkle, “and you can go out on the Internet using the jukebox, so if it doesn’t have the song you want you can get it.”
In addition to an almost limitless supply of digital music via the jukebox, there’s also live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday during dinner; and TVs to watch while dining inside or out.
“With the start of football season we hope to be a destination for people to watch games,” says Trinkle. “What could be better than watching football on TV outside in the fall?”
And with someone bringing you drinks, no less. Sounds good to me.
Fork in the Alley.
2123B Crystal Spring Ave.
Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.