If you were to just show up at somebody’s house and ask to be fed, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to be made to wait while something was thrown together for you. Even if you showed up during what might be considered a normal meal time, you might have to cool your heels while your friend found something to cook for you. Assuming you pulled this stunt at a friend’s house and not a strangers, because then you might find yourself arrested.
Even if you were to show up at a restaurant on an off hour you may experience a longer than ideal wait time. Kitchens tend to put foods away and break down service stations. If guests come in before or after that process, it may take a while to get things resituated.
But when you show up at a restaurant at 1 p.m., which to most people is still the heart of lunchtime, you sort of expect more prompt service. Especially when only two other tables — a total of three people — are occupied and waiting for food.
I waited over 45 minutes for my food to arrive at Shantell’s Cafe, a well-regarded restaurant in Sanford that recently moved to a new location not far from its original home. It’s not like I ordered something out of the ordinary. I selected the chicken and waffles, a dish considered to be so much a signature that it’s written in the front window.
I’d like to say it was worth the wait. It was not. That’s not to say it wasn’t good. A large Begium waffle provided an ample platform for the bird. The breading on the chicken was perfectly seasoned, and the pieces had been fried beautifully.
But those pieces consisted of a leg, a wing, and a section of backbone with the tail attached. At $14 the meal was overpriced, especially considering it included no side dishes. (A three-piece chicken dinner is available for $8 and includes sides, so apparently there’s a premium placed on that waffle.
No explanation was offered for the delay; no apology was made.
As with many Sanford restaurants, Shantell’s is in an old building that retains much of its rusticity. There are beamed rafters overhead beneath an open ceiling, and a very large television behind a service counter at the back of the restaurant that had the sound playing loudly enough to be heard at a front table. I watched an entire episode of Law & Order.
I should mention that the other two tables were waiting when I arrived, so they most likely waited even longer. Judging from what I could hear of the interaction between those guests and the server, none of us left happy.
Shantell’s Cafe is at 417 S. Sanford Ave., Sanford. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, including late hours (you might need them). The phone number is 407-915-5444.