Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight.
Atmosphere: Hanging plant haven.
Price range: Entrees from $7.25 to $10.95 with dinner salad; salad bar $3.95 extra with dinner, $5.95 by itself.
Reservations: Recommended for large parties.
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express.
Special features: Evening and weekend parking in lot. Children's menu. Highchairs and booster seats. Entrance accessible to wheelchairs. Sunday brunch.
When we learn that restaurants have changed management, we have a dream that the new owners have stood silently in the wings for months and observed all the problems. Then, when they have their opportunity, they'll know how to take a potentially good restaurant and make it become one.
In the case of Fiddler's, our dreams remained only dreams.
Over the years at Fiddler's, little has changed. The potential has always been there, but on every visit, we always have the same feeling of disappointment.
On our most recent visit, our disappointment was even greater. The new menu is skewed in favor of expensive, complete dinners.
New owners have brought few changes. Service has improved little: courses take a long time to emerge from the kitchen and families have the familiar sense of having to fend for themselves.
There are few options when ordering. The salad bar, always the restaurant's main virtue, is still intact. The salad can serve as a meal for $5.95 or as an accompaniment to a complete dinner for $3.95.
Although all dinners at Fiddler's previously included the salad bar, dinners now come with a dinner salad and two vegetables. The problem here is that, after you've seen the salad bar's bountiful display, you figure you'll be missing something with an ordinary dinner salad.
The restaurant's previous menus, which favored sandwiches, allowed for more flexibility. Now the only alternatives are a hamburger ($3.95), for which toppings cost extra, or a quiche or omelette ($4.75).
There is no shortage of choices for main courses, but the three we tried were all disappointing. As the salad orderer, I can compliment only the wide variety of both fruits and vegetables.
In addition to entrees there is a whole page listing appetizers and drinks. We shared the "veggie tempura sampler" ($4), which arrived just a few minutes before dinner. The nice assortment of vegetables was buried under a thick starchy coating.
Dinner provided some other problems. From the children's menu, our daughter picked the barbecued ribs ($4.75). Greasy, unattractive, dark brown and fatty, the ribs providing little meat. But the side dish of sauce is both a nice idea and a tasty accompaniment for the fried potatoes.
The prime rib, an evening special for $8.95, came well done, instead of medium rare as requested. When we mentioned it to the waitress, she immediately apologized and disappeared with the order. The second slice, although medium rare, hardly was the prime rib of our dreams. It tasted tough and overcooked, and lacked any redeeming mouth-watering quality the dish should have.
Duck a' l'orange ($9.95) was a plate filled unattractively to the brim with a half-duck, rice and assorted fruits. The abundance of extras did not hide the overcooked, uninspiring entree flavored with a mere hint of orange.
Although desserts are available, we were unable to make contact with our waitress and decided that extending our stay was unnecessary. We finally paid the hostess so we could go home for ice cream.
The mainstay of the restaurant is the salad bar. If you remember to limit your ordering accordingly, you'll be a Fiddler's fan.
Our exploration, including tax and tip, totaled a disappointing $39.79.