Friday, March 15, 2013

Poco's on the Boulevard - A Kansas City Mexican Disaster

Because of the Restaurant Impossible show we made a point of visiting Poco's yesterday.  It’s just a couple of miles from Bartle Hall, this year’s location of the Heart of America Dog Shows.  In an area filled with crowded Mexican restaurants, Poco's parking lot was empty.  Not a good sign at 4:30 in the afternoon, the restaurants that we passed to get there were already filling up with early diners and after work, basketball, and dog show diners.  The inside is filled with signs about 'Top 12 in 12' and all of the good reviews, that I am sure came shortly after Mr. Irvine re-made the restaurant.  

Yesterday was an extreme disappointment.  I called for directions from Bartle Hall, a major Kansas City landmark, telling her that we would be coming from the North on Broadway.  If I had not had a pretty good idea where it was, I wouldn’t have found it.  On the way home, I realized that she had given me directions from another street about a mile farther east. 

Our visit started with no greeting by the only visible person in the restaurant, a tall slender woman, dressed in black, with long straight black hair.  We were not sure if we were supposed to wait to be seated, since no one came to the hostess stand when we arrived and waited for a couple of minutes, so our party of 4 sat at a table in the center of the dining area. 

The woman in black plunked the water glasses down, at which time I asked if they had Coke or Pepsi.  She replied "Coke' then walked away.  That was her clue to take the drink orders, as there were only two other people in the restaurant and they were leaving.  She headed for the bar/counter and poured a Coke from the fountain.  My husband thought, that maybe she thought I ordered a Coke.  About that time, she started to drink the beverage and waited 3 to 4 minutes before coming back for drink orders. In the subsequent 8 minutes that it took for her to bring the soft drinks, we had made our meal decisions. Two in our party ordered their Grande Burrito, one chicken and one ground beef. The other two orders were one Lamb Shank dinner, and one Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce (ordered sauce on the side).  After the woman ordered the chicken burrito, the waitress commented on "how big it is, you won't be able to eat it all” so we expected to see something that covered the plate (it didn't).  I went to the ladies room to wash up before our meal was served and the floor was horribly sticky.  Before and during our meal the waitress returned to behind the counter and took chips from the baskets on the pass-through from the kitchen, dipped them into jars on the counter and ate.  Not once washing her hands, and was there double-dipping going on?  Who knows?  So I guess I am glad that there were no complimentary chips and salsa offered. But in an area surrounded by dozens and dozens of Mexican restaurants, charging for chips, REALLY?  Three of the four meals were finally delivered to the table.  Are there no trays, so that they can serve an entire party at once?  It was only 4 dishes.   As our companions cut into their NOT SO GRAND burritos, the waitress came over, swapped their plates, telling our female companion "I think I gave him your Chicken" AFTER THEY CUT INTO THEM!!!  The burritos had a little sauce on top of them, which had already started to dry out.  The Lamb Shank dinner was good, the corn (canned) mixed with the black beans (also canned) wasn't bad.  The presentation was terrible, a lamb shank stuck on top of a plate of beans and pork.  The pork loin came sliced into medallions, and was the best presentation of all, but since I had ordered their cherry sauce on the side, it didn't come until they brought the last dinner out.  The broth that the pork was cooked in was good since the cherry sauce was so sweet it was almost inedible, but there was only about 1 tablespoon of the broth, so the first couple of pieces were good, and the rest was dry, and I gave it to another member of the party who like the cherry sauce, and ate the rest of my meal.  I would have eaten more if they had even drizzled a bit more of the cooking juices over it.  Back to the burritos: The chicken one was so dry, you could see the 'dryness' from the other end of the table, and had no flavor.  That comment came from a woman who thinks that Pace Mild Picante is too hot.  The ground beef was so greasy it just ran all over the plate, but again, very little flavor. The gentleman with the ground beef burrito asked for hot sauce, 'the hottest you have.'  The waitress brought out about 2 tablespoons of their not-so-hot hot sauce.  He spooned it over the burrito hoping for some moisture, other than grease, and some flavor.  The waitress did not offer dessert until we asked about it, but she did make a comment that we must have like the food since the burritos were gone.  No we didn’t really like the food, but we had one really hungry person with us that just needed to be filled up, so he finished off his meals and two others. Did he enjoy it, no, was he full, yes, and that was his goal.  After being told that 3 of the 6 items offered for dessert (at $6 each - even flan which is typically $2.50 to $3 at KC metro area Mexican restaurants) were no longer being served, we took her suggestion for the Margarita cake.  Which is not at all what one might think.  It is chocolate cake covered with a layer of flan, made in a bundt pan.  Perhaps another name or a description on the menu might have been helpful.  It also came in vanilla but the waitress told us that it wasn't very good.  The poorly named Margarita Cake was very good.  This restaurant, on the west side of Kansas City, is surrounded by many restaurants.  Ones that I now know are much better.  As we were driving out, all of them were packed, and only one person was driving into Poco's lot, and I think they worked there.

I cannot recommend this restaurant for food or service, and we won't even go into the 'refrigerator repairman mode" of the waitresses black pants every time she bent over.

OK, I do have to go back to her snacking, then putting the straws in our glasses, and when I asked for another, she brought it out in her bare hand, and laid it on the table.  POCO'S on the Boulevard - DIDN'T LIKE IT, WON'T GO BACK.  

Goes to show that Robert Irvine can do wonders with remodeling, and knowing what needs to be done, but once he leaves it takes a strong team to stick with his sound advice. 

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