My visit was just that, a grind. I had a friend in from out of town, a former Kansas Citian. When she said she wanted a Grinders philly for lunch yesterday I cringed. Since she was a visitor, I reluctantly agreed to go. There is a last time for everything.
Of course lunch started out with shitty service, we didn't see a waitress for 10 minutes. 2 philly sandwiches, two half orders of tots and two sides of Wiz for the tots. The phillys came out first. When I picked up the sandwich, the entire one ounce of meat fell out of the bottom of the bread into the basket. I thought damn, did I really come back here? When I put the meat back in, it filled barely a quarter of the stale bun. I tore off 3/4 of the the stale bun down to the meat, and ate what was left.
A couple minutes after I finished the "sandwich" someone (not our waitress) came over to ask how everything was. We inquired about the status of our tots and she said, "Oh, the cook put your Wiz on the tots so he had to remake the orders". She had to ask if everything was cool? If she knew about the tots, why didn't she just come over and apologize for the wait. Grinders don't apologize for shit, it's your fault you came in. The tots came out hot, fresh and ten minutes too late.
I don't get it, the place was nearly empty. I saw at least three guys "cooking" behind the bar. They must have been too busy talking about their ear gauges, tattoos and scruffy beards to do any serious cooking. This place is a big, fat, hipster joke, and the joke is on us! Screw this place and the super cool Vespa it rode in on. They just don't f*ing care.
Ok, I'm done now.
I am both a fan of and yet disappointed in KC's Restaurant Week affair. Kind of like being a Royals fan, I guess. When I lived in D.C., Restaurant Week was amazing. You were able to get great food from places you would never be able to afford normally. The deals were great as you could get 50 bucks worth of menu items for 30 bucks. It became a challenge to see how many places you could hit for lunch and dinner during the week (at least 3-4 was the norm). The Restaurants were always booked full months in advance of the week. Great for diners, great for the economy.
While I applaud KC's effort (especially with a portion of the proceeds going to the Harvesters charity), it's deals are not always such great deals. I won't call specific restaurants out, but one should get more than any sandwich on the menu and a dessert for 15 bucks at lunch. The dinner choices are just as deflating. One place that I love and we'll just call it "White Hamburgers" to protect the innocent (or guilty) has a dinner restaurant week special that if ordered separately would cost you a max of $23 (plus a little for the chocolates at dessert). Hardly a special when ordering at 30 bucks. Many places fit this bill: Not enough bang for the buck.
Restaurant Week is a chance for Restaurants to show off their talents by providing economical, yet top notch food, to customers who may want to return when it's not on special. You shouldn't just provide a few dollars in savings, it should be significant.
With that rant out of the way, I found the absolutely best Restaurant Week lunch special in town at Harry's Country Club (112 E. Missouri, KCMO). My 15 bucks at lunch got me over 26 dollars worth of fantastic food that left me so stuffed I doubt I'll hit up dinner tonight (plus a half of sandwich still left!). Harry's gets Restaurant Week. It was a great value, a portion went to a great cause, and I'll undoubtedly return to a place I had never gone to for food before. I applaud Harry's. But I leave some thoughtful, respectful criticism (I won't complain too much as it's for a good cause after all) for those Restaurants that refused to embrace Restaurant Week for the opportunities it presented.
Typically, never. As long as the food is good, the atmosphere swell and the price just right, upscale dining has a place in our dining culture. I also believe that any food type can use an upscale slant. I don't care if it's Italian, German, Indian... even Mexican, upscale eateries provide something different. Something good.
Except when upscale is not really upscale. That seems to be the initial problem with El Patron Cocina & Bar (http://elpatronkcmo.com/). This relatively new Mexican place is nestled along one of my favorite Boulevards (2905 S.W. Blvd, KC, MO) in America. Yes, all of America. The great flavors coupled with vibrant diversity makes this area one of my favorites.
El Patron has seemingly billed itself as more of an upscale Mexican joint as opposed to its neighbor across the street (I mean Boulevard), Ponak's. The problem is that is just isn't very upscale and it's food lacks the flair that would prompt someone to take a "step up" from its many Mexican Restaurant neighbors.
I've been there multiple times in a genuine effort to make El Patron one of my favorites. But it just hasn't delivered. On my last foray to this location I was greeted with the appetizing aroma of bleach as the manager (perhaps owner?) sloppily waved a mop around the tiny dining room floor. After a few smacks of the back of my bar stool by the mop wielding server (all without an apology or much less an acknowledgment of her accidental mop whackings) I was greeted by the bar server. As I was in the midst of Happy Hour I inquired about any specials. After the obligatory Mexican specials (meaning Margarita's and Mojitos) I asked about a simple beer special. Nope. No luck.
So I paid the $4.50 for my Dos Equis bottle and sought out some of that smelly stuff they give you to slap on your upper lip when you walk into a morgue to try and overcome the bleach smell.
I won't waste anymore space detailing the slightly overpriced, uninspiring food, but suffice it to say that the experience had me staring out the window longing for Ponak's.
In closing, the people at El Patron seem nice and they seem like they are trying hard to succeed. Unfortunately they are failing to establish a much needed niche for upscale Mexican in Kansas City (I may be the only one who truly misses Canyon Cafe on the Plaza). I wish them good luck. I also wish they could establish their identity. Upscale? Probably not.