We just spent an aggravating New Year's Eve at A.J.'s in Charleston, IL. The ribeyes were not as good as the hamburgers from McDonalds. Only one person got a baked potato, there were 16 of us. They said they were out of baked potatos, my husband had a very fat ribeye, a few cold cooked veggies and a salad for which we paid extra and one coffee.The shrimp was crispy, one steak was rare and bloody and they would not take it back! We asked for bread and they said they do not serve bread anymore. One person with salmon asked for tarter sauce and they didn't have any.She ordered a Manhatten and they had to take it back twice so she told him what to put in it and he came back and said they didn't have those ingredients. A half glass of Merlot was $5.00! They did not even tell us there were no potatoes so a few people waited to get theirs and it never did happen! By then their dinner was ruined. We were furious, what a way to start a New Years, they finally offered to take 25% off the bill, it should have been half. The waiter was so busy he didn't fill our drinks until we asked several times. Oh yes, one woman who has Parkinsons ordered Chicken Pot Pie and all she got was a little bowl of pot soup with a small piece of bread in it. Needless to say, this is 16 people who will no longer upset the ktchen at A.J.'s. It's a shame because E.L. Krackers used to be the best restaurant around...We need some good restaurants in Mattoon and Charleston, IL. Where are you Cheddars and Applebees??
We went to AJ's last night after hearing about it from friends. Was I pleased? Not really! First I ordered the Monte Cristo sandwich, which I have ordered and other restaraunts and loved, here it was like eating a doughnut with meat and cheese in the middle. They covered it in sweet powdered sugar!! Well - I sent this back because I couldn't eat it. I then ordered the Italian Chicken sandwich that I could only eat half of. It was basically tasteless chicken that definately needed spices.
The worst part of the evening was what I saw from one of the waitresses!!! She was carrying a tray of food to the table next to ours and her hair was actually laying on their food because she was carrying the tray on her shoulder. If this had been my food I would have spoken up and left immediately. Definate health issues!!
AJ's is has a monopoly in Charleston for a family style-Applebee's like restaurant. Unfortunately, they are lacking several areas. The food and service is very inconsistent. One visit the food will be great and the next time it is horrible. With my experience in ordering steaks as well with my guests, they just can't get the temperature down. All of our steaks were over cooked. And for any avid-steak connoisseur this is a huge mistake. The service is often poor, lazy servers, forgetful servers, rude servers, I've experienced all. The menu has many options for the whole family but is very bland and lacking creativity. The menu does have steak combo meals which aren't too bad of a deal, that is if your steak is cooked to your liking. The ambiance of AJ's is very comparable to something such as Fridays or Applebees and is usually pretty enjoyable. The one problem I have heard about and witnessed is drunk college students roaming the restaurant during bar crawls and parties that occur in the attached bar. Also recently, there was a man who exposed himself in the restaurant to a table of girls. So be careful when dining here with family members on the weekend. The seating at Aj's is somewhat unfortunate if your elderly or handicapped. The booth seating is located upstairs above the restaurant in a small tight stairwell that is often crowed with servers going up and down with food and other guests. Overall the food and service seems to be average, but a drive to Effingham, Mattoon, or even Champaign might be a necessity if your looking for a great overall dining experience.