I originally posted this on Urban Spoon and Yelp, but less than 24 hours after writing my review, Urban Spoon pulled it so I am posting it here. Hopefully I’ll be able to link from Urban Spoon to this post on my blog.
Last night, dead tired after a long holiday weekend, we decided to go to Grand Street Cafe in Kansas City for a quick bite. Nothing fancy, just a couple of appetizers and a cocktail. Before I continue, I want to clarify that Kristy and I have been going to Grand Street since it opened. The staff for the most part knows us by name and we are considered regulars.
Well, last night was the last straw for me and Grand Street. Over the last few years I have watched it steadily decline as the original owners shifted the focus from an upscale bistro, to a restaurant that could make more money off of private banquet dining, and catering. The other focus of the original owners was on their Red Robin franchise in the Midwest. I can’t hold anything against them for that. Red Robin’s have a license to print money, and everyone likes to make money. What I will say is this, no matter what Grand Street has done in the last few years, it has gone from OK to just plain bad.
It used to be that more than anything else customer service at Grand Street was top-notch. Seriously good service. Even when the food was a bit off, or they were between truly gifted chefs, the service and management was always above average, and usually exemplary. Last night however marked the 5th and last time Grand Street will serve me bad food, and do so with a “what ever” attitude.
My meal, the over roasted chicken was inedible. Kristy’s meal, a Cobb Salad, was also inedible. Seriously… inedible. This isn’t the first time the food has been this bad since the most recent chef left for sunny California a month or two back. Two weeks ago my friend Paul and I both got the Grand Street Burger. Paul asked for his to be cooked at Rare Plus, I asked for mine Medium. Both came out Medium Well at best and leaning more to the Well Done side of things. It’s a damn cheeseburger for god’s sake. What’s worse is in both instances, the place hasn’t been that busy. Either way, the wait staff was fairly nonchalant about handling the incident, and seemed rather put off about trying to correct the issue.
Last night, our waiter did take care of the meals, but he didn’t return to check on us to see how things were for 20 minutes after our food was delivered to the table. When he did come by and let us know he would take care of it, he was gone so quickly that we couldn’t even ask to speak to a manager. We had to flag down the hostess a full ten minutes after our waiter left. The hostess, walked over to the general manager, and told him we would like to talk to him. He looked at us and went back to talking to the line. I thought OK he’s busy he’ll be over in a minute or two. 15 minutes later we decided to leave. There were two managers on duty, neither one of them could make it over to chat with us about the lousy food, and mediocre service.
The thing that just kills me is, when Dennis Dicky, Thelma Oliver or Mike Lee were running the show, this never would have happened. The customer service was spot on, and the food leaving the kitchen was always prepared correctly. The servers checked to make sure things were done right, and if they weren’t they took care of it in full. There are still some of the original wait staff at Grand Street that hold up this attention to detail, and maintain the restaurants original standards, but for the most part the originals are gone and so is the quality of the place. I can’t even recommend Grand Street to people at this point. Two years ago I probably still would have.
The current menu which was designed by former chef Ian Hockenburg is solid. There are recipes on it that he brought from his previous restaurant The Mango Room. They were nice well seasoned dishes that fit the clientele without being to over the top. It worked. The problem is that they are prepared so poorly now, that in many cases they now longer work at all. Most dishes are over seasoned, or not seasoned at all. The food is never cooked to the requested temperature, and is often served cold or luke warm having sate under the warming lamps at the kitchen line for far to long.
It’s to bad Grand Street. You have invested money in renovations that have actually moved the interior from 1995 to the 21st century, and from the look of things, when your renovations are complete the place will look pretty good. For me though, it doesn’t matter because I am done. At this point they can’t bring me back. I have given them second chances over and over again for the last few years and at the end of the day Grand Street consistently fails me.