For the churchgoing population of the Columbus GA area – of which there are many across a range of denominations and church premises big and small – a late Sunday morning feed seems to be very much the done thing.
It was in this context that we ventured towards Chef Lee’s Chinese restaurant a little before noon. There not only did we meet Sherry and Cliff, but also Ashleigh – who had joined at Staplehouse – and a large swathe of her family. We were quite the jolly party of ten stepping into what soon became one of the busiest and most frenetic restaurants I’ve ever experienced in a while.
It’s worth pausing to outline the splendour of the setting which matches the palatial style I’d seen much of in Seoul with a Vegas glitz and glamour including a coy carp pool under the glass floor of the entrance way. It was quite something.
The menu was a fairly familiar format with classic Chinese offerings split up by protein with a range of dishes for each meat.
Once seated we were invited to order pretty rapidly. The table was split fairly evenly in sampling the egg drop and hot n sour soups, then there were various classics – Mongolian beef, sweet n sour chicken, beef chow mein etc – ordered as mains.
I’d opted for the kung po pork. It arrived – as with all the main courses – with rice, a chicken wing and an egg roll. The chicken wing was a complete non-event but the rice was good and the egg roll, in a similar style to the one I had at Lexington Market in Baltimore, was decent.
The pork was pretty good, too. It had good flavour, was interspersed with crisp veg and cashew nuts, and had some terrifying looking dried red chillis that proved to be rather spicy. I enjoyed the dish.
We were perhaps half way through eating when it became fairly clear that they wanted to press a button that launched us drectly into the void and have a new fresh table emerge from beneath. They had a packed foyer of waiting customers so I understood their perspective but it was almost comedically brusque.
As any remaining items were packed up for takeout, someone must have paid. I really have no idea who it was or how they did it, but thanks.
Chef Lee’s was a highly memorable place. The food was good but the decor and production line service were the elements likely to live on most vividly. I’d be happy to return and would be interested to see what it was like to sample dishes at just a little more leisurely pace.
Blythe scores Chef Lee’s
3.5/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20
Today’s questers were: the Land fam, Sherry, MJ, Cliff, Blythe
We ate: egg drop soup, hot n sour soup, various noodle and rice dishes, chicken wings, egg rolls
We drank: water, jasmine tea, cola etc
We wore: Sunday bests
Total bill: no idea, but not loads as main courses were typically around $8 each so we were probably no more than a little over $100