Crash course

Sports bars are great when you want to relax, watch the big game and sip on your favorite beverage while devouring burgers, wings and nachos. And if you like professional NASCAR racing, the Fourth Turn Bar & Grill is the place to be. The food and service, however, need a tune-up.

When Erin and I entered the bar, the customers at the tables were in a trance. Their attention was focused on the blur of colorful race cars zipping around the track. All seven television screens, including the big screen, had the same race on.

Fourth Turn has a relaxed atmosphere; customers seat themselves. After the waitress handed us menus, that was the last we saw of her for a while. When she returned almost 10 minutes later, she took our drink order and our request to start on a chicken quesadilla ($4.95) for an appetizer. She served my coffee and handed Erin a Dr. Pepper. Erin had ordered a Diet Pepsi but said that it was no problem.

The menu is race-car-themed. The appetizers, which are called Hot Laps, include such items as Taladega taquitos ($4.75), Martinville breaded mushrooms ($4.95) and Daytona chicken strips ($6.25). B-Main burgers such as the Winston Cup ($6.75)— a double-bacon burger—and the Grand National ($5.75)—a turkey burger are offered. C-Main sandwiches include chicken Cordon Bleu ($6.50), grilled ham and cheese ($5.25) and a BLT ($5.75).

For lunch, I chose the Hawaiian chicken sandwich ($6.75), and Erin selected a turkey sandwich on an onion roll ($4.95).

The appetizer was good. Plenty of jalapeños made the dish nice and spicy. Our sandwiches, however, weren’t as good. When our food arrived, the waitress hastily set it in front of us, quickly asked whether there was anything else she could get us and then left. The entire time we were there, it seemed she was more concerned about her friends at the table next to us than about anyone else in the bar. After she delivered food or drinks to a table, she darted over to her friends to chat. This was especially irritating since it was fairly busy; about half the tables were full.

The first problem with the food was that there was no pineapple on my sandwich. I was hungry, and the waitress was nowhere to be seen, so I just ate it. It was average for a chicken sandwich, but it wasn’t the one I’d ordered. I asked for no tomato, but the sesame-seed bun boasted two thick and juicy slices.

Erin’s sandwich came on white bread, not an onion bun as she had requested. The bread even had a chunk that had broken off from the end. It must have been because the bread was so stale. The bread was so hard when I touched it I thought it was toasted. But it wasn’t. The bread had either been left out, or Erin’s sandwich was served on the remains of a loaf that should have been thrown away days ago. She took a couple of bites and left the rest. She said she was full anyway. The waitress didn’t seem to care when she checked on us.

Our waitress and the other employees at the Fourth Turn seemed friendly enough with their smiles, but the food and service show that the bar really just doesn’t care about producing a quality product.