My husband and I with our young child went to the Garner Ale House because we had a $25 gift certificate for it. We were hoping that it was like the Carolina Ale House in Cary, which we loved. In order to make use of the certificate, we had to spend at least $45 and have an automatic 18% tip.
When we first arrived, we were overwhelmed by the smell of cigarettes and cigars and the REALLY loud speakers. We asked for the non-smoking section, but it was just a small side room that had 3 large window openings that let in all of the smoke from the other room. We could barely hear each other talk during the dinner - it was extremely rowdy for a Thursday evening. There were several televisions blaring a game while a guy with a microphone yelled out trivia questions.
I had their ribeye with garlic mashed potatoes and mac 'n cheese (for my daughter). The ribeye was tough and chewy, while the mac 'n cheese looked like it was out of the box (like Kraft, but not as good) and the garlic mashed potatoes didn't taste garlic-y or buttery at all. I added a Scrimp skewer (for an extra $$) and specifically asked if it was spicy. I was told nothing I had ordered was spicy, but those were covered in some sauce that so hot & spicy I couldn't finish one. When I told the waitress this, she did nothing to remedy it other than saying it wasn't supposed to be spicy.
My husband had the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. The chicken was bland and soggy, while the fettuccine was average. He also got Cheesy Bacon Fries - the cheese sauce was like a fake cheese whiz type though the bacon was good. We had their Crab Dip which was really good (the only real highlight of the night) but it came with weird smelling bread. My daughter had the kid's chicken fingers & french fries. While those were both good and came with a great honey mustard sauce, the size/portion was seriously lacking compared to the price. (2 chicken strips plus fries for $4.29, no drink).
There seemed to be only one waitress for the entire restaurant so it was really hard to get her attention when we encountered the problem with the scrimp and to get refills on our drinks. Again, she was not helpful or apologetic about the extreme spiciness of the scrimp and did nothing to remedy our displeasure. Had we not had the tip automatically added to our bill, we would have not been so generous since she certainly did not deserve it for the little service we received.
Even with our $25 certificate, we still ended up spending almost $40 for the meal. It definitely was not worth it and we will not be back. In my opinion, if you want good food at these prices, you'd do much better at the Carolina Ale House in Cary or an Outback Steakhouse.
Pros: Good Crab Dip, Chicken Fingers and Honey Mustard Sauce
Cons: VERY Loud, very smoky, way overpriced for the value/quality