Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mongolian Grille needs to raise the bar

My first experience with the concept of the Mongolian style, load up a bowl with meat and vegetables and then hand it off to be cooked on a huge round flat top, restaurant was quite exciting. Big chunks of fresh meat and vegetables. A huge selection of sauces to create your own symphony of flavor. It was more than I could take in at once so I went back again and again. But that was when I lived in Dallas. Steph wanted to try the Mongolian Grille for quite a while but we never seemed to get around to it. We finally did and well, the word lackluster comes to mind.

The restaurant is located off 183 between Spicewood Springs and Oak Knoll.  In the same complex as BB Rover's.  We parked right in front of the entrance since they weren't very busy and walked in.  The girl up front greeted us in a mousey sort of way and started messing with some papers for a little while.  We stood there not knowing what to do.  Actually I'm still not sure what to do.  She then asked if we'd been there before and since we hadn't she started explaining the concept.  Now pay attention here because it gets confusing.  She said something about "all you can eat" but that meant in a single bowl.  If you want more it costs extra.  So what she really meant was you get one bowl for the price but you can have as much as you can load into it.  Not really "all you can eat."  I'm not complaining about the policy but rather upset that they seem to lawyer ball you from the start.  Don't say it's "all you can eat" when it clearly isn't.  You might think The Grumpy Fat Man would load up on a buffet but truth be told I don't.  The waitress walked us to the counter where we picked up a bowl and started filling it with all sorts of vegetables and meat.  To be honest it didn't look all that fresh.  The broccoli was a little wilted and the meat selection we covered with ice crystals as they hadn't completely thawed from their frozen state.  Certainly not what I remembered being crazy about in Dallas.

We finished filling our bowls and walked up to the sauce station.  Steph went with a sweet teriyaki style on her bowl of beef and mushrooms and I tried my own concoction of salty, citrus and heat.  I guess I was going for some kind of Jamaican flavor.  Then we handed our bowls off to the cook to be well, cooked.  It only takes a few minutes since the grill is said to be something like 800 degrees.  Then the cook sat the bowl down not in front of us but off to one side so we had to go pick it up.  I wasn't sure why he did that since we were the only ones standing there.  It must be a game he plays.  We then went to find our table.

While we were getting our food the waitress had set up our table with our drink order and the complimentary sides that come with the meal.  Some pocket bread, a soup and something else that escapes me right now.  I remember liking the bread.  We ate our fill and one bowl was plenty so again, no big deal on the all you can eat thing.  We did notice little signs all over the dining area explaining that even though you heard all you can eat it really wasn't.  That's when I realized that the restaurant owner either meant to deceive or just wasn't trying to explain the concept.  In either case it just didn't sit well with me.

I just wish it was better.  Perhaps going at lunch time will bring better results?  Let me know!

See you tomorrow.

Mongolian Grille on Urbanspoon

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