Notes for Cloud 9 post: First Attempt: Meeting with a friend for drinks after work – fairly empty – standing in entry way awkwardly trying to figure out if I seat myself or wait for someone – still standing here – see staff around but no one says a word – approach some staff and ask if I can just find a seat – find booth – wait staff watching TV – at least I have good company coming here to join me… Second Attempt: With friend after work looking for drinks and a light dinner – walking pass the side of the building we notice the kitchen staff on the lounge sofa with their feet propped up on center table – decide to eat at a different place downtown… Third Attempt: Shrimp po boy on their special’s menu via their facebook page – dinner and drinks after work – fingers crossed…
Let me start off by saying I wanted to like this place. I have debated writing this post and intentionally went there multiple times hoping for a better experience. I think my mixed emotions are that a place like Cloud 9 is needed in the Fort Campbell area. My perfect night out is tapas style food and great drinks which this place is completely capable of. So where does this place miss the mark?
To begin, Cloud 9 has a lot of things going for it. It’s centrally located in the downtown Clarksville area. The meals I’ve had in the past are appealing for the most part without being overly complicated. For example, my first attempt reviewing this place I shared the hummus and pita with my friend. I appreciated that the pitas had a slight crunch to them which made them ideal for dipping. The portion was perfect for two people to share. The drinks are always on point, well balanced, and I haven’t found one yet that I didn’t like. The bohemian happens to be my reigning favorite. Also, the ambience of this place is well suited for a female friendly environment. There are plenty of large booths and two people seating, to encourage large groups to gather or intimate conversations.
However, here is where things take a turn and I place it squarely on the menu. I get the feeling that Cloud 9 is still trying to discover what their menu should be and I am afraid they are falling victim to what people in the area are familiar with. I mention this only because after reading some other reviews on various websites I noticed people complained about the portion sizes. When this place first opened it was marketed as a tapas style food place with great mixed drinks. However, I have noticed their menu pulling further away from that and more into a traditional full meal menu. Unfortunately, they are not carrying this off very well. Back to the shrimp po boy I had on my third attempt. When I received this dish I was sorely disappointed. The shrimp were warmed on the outside but cold on the inside. My guess would be that they were reheated. Something about the seasoning also tasted completely off, as if it was overly seasoned with one particular spice. The rémoulade was nothing special but it was the only thing that made the shrimp tolerable. What threw this dish completely out of balance were the fries, which were seasoned lightly with Cajun seasoning too. It was just too much. I hope this place can put together a menu of fresh ingredients with plates that can be shared that can complement their unique drink menu.
Getting back to my issue of the wait and kitchen staff; I will elaborate some. I will pay more for two things always: a quality product and excellent customer service. Consequently, I don’t expect staff to be watching television while I very uncomfortably attempted to figure out the seating situation without as much as a simple greeting. I get even more frustrated when I feel like I am inconveniencing the staff from a personal conversation just to get service. This doesn’t do anything to help create an atmosphere I want to return to or spend money at.
Fortunately for Cloud 9 they do have at least one rock star on staff and her name is Desiree. When I came in on my third attempt she was the only wait staff on hand. As soon as I entered she greeted me and asked me to find a seat. She was quickly at my booth, with water, and took my drink and food order. Both came back promptly and she continued to check in to make sure I didn’t need anything else. But I expect those things. As the evening progressed I ran into a friend of mine who happens to be a regular. When Desiree saw her she immediately knew what her drink order was going to be. As soon as she confirmed this, she had the drink out to my friend. It is that kind of service that I would come back and pay extra for.
In spite of all I have said, if I want to meet with some girlfriends and grab mixed drinks I haven’t found a better place in the Fort Campbell area to accomplish this than Cloud 9. I just hope this place finds it identity soon, sharpens up their staff, and fine tunes the menu. In the meantime, I will keep searching for a place that has its self a little more figured out.