Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pop's Cafe, the return of the Greasy Spooners

I'm back.
Yes, it has been 4 years, but I have a good-ish excuse. In those four years I got promoted (yeah!) which left me little time for lunchtime excursions (boo!).
Now, I'm in what's politely called a "career transition" (boo!) which means have time to Geasy Spoon again (yeah!).
I have added two new reviewers: The Boy and the Girl.
Now to the review.
Pop's Cafe has had several different signs over the years. It's attached to a motel that has been rundown and sad since I was a wee lad. But, it's always had a sign out front that brazenly claimed to have the best tenderloin in KC. I'm a huge fan of Kitty's Cafe's weird Asian fusion tenderloin, so I could be tough on old Pop. I finally excepted said challenge.
The place looks like a cafe attached to a sad motel. Full of the elderly, nursing a cup of coffee for hours while Judge Judy stares at you from the TV. A place where the waitresses are leery and maybe a bit too gruff with non-regulars.
I ordered the tenderloin while the Girl got the Chicken Fried Steak sandwich and the Boy a patty melt.
It took awhile. But, as the menu proclaimed, the tenderloins are hand breaded right then and there. Perfection takes time.
It wasn't some pounded to death, flat tenderloin breaded in weird orange cornmeal. It was a real pork cutlet on a toasted bun with all the fixins' (horseradish, mayo, pickles, onions and lettuce).
The tater tots were crisp and not too greasy (sorry Kitty's, they got you there).
The Girl's CFS sandwich was hand breaded too. Massive, with gravy all over. The Boy's patty melt had similar qualities.

Over all, it was a damn good sandwich. I haven't tasted all the tenderloins in KC to make final judgement, but it's gotta be up there.
The other sandwiches were good, too. They both had a weird twang which I think came from the bread maybe being frozen at one time, but all plates were clean by the end. Are waitress warmed up tous then.
We saved room for a nice piece of raspberry cake and they have a couple dozen pies to order.

Food: 3- Pretty darn good.
Price: 3- A ton of food for 3 people with drinks and dessert for around $30.
Kitch: 4- Off the hook. Good old stuff from garage sales decorating the walls. All your condiments in plastic tubs on the table. Shabby but clean.
Bonus:You get an old school carnival ticket with each order that you can check back the next week (they have the tickets posted on the door) to see if you win a free meal!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Back in the early 90s I would eat at Mario's at least once every couple of months with my sister. Don't know why we always went there, it was just something we did. It was always packed. The place was made up of several small rooms, which added to the coziness of the place. The meatball grinders were made with lovely Italian bread. Hard and flakey on the outside, mooshy on the inside, full on gooey cheese and homemade meatballs. So when I heard that Mario's was still there with a much reduced restaurant and menu size, I thought I'd try it out.
My ride was late, and I was anxious about having to wait in line. Turns out I shouldn't have been. The place was empty and remained so for much of the lunch. They have a walk up on the street and maybe I didn't see the people going to that.
The place had lost some of it's coziness. It was bare and smaller. The nice lady in the hole in the wall took our order. Had to get the grinder and pasta salad. (I forgot to order the pasta but a fellow Spooner was kind enough to share).
The bread was the same. The cheese was it's gooey self, but the meatballs were few and tasted store bought. The pasta salad was "ehh?". I realize the owners probably reduced the size of the place and menu to cut costs, but it lost a lot of charm in the process. Can't say I disliked the new Mario's, but I'm rnot unning out try it again. If you're in the neighborhood give it a try. Looks like me and Sis need a new place.

Food: 3- just OK.
Price: 3- again, not bad/not great. You'll get more meatball ratio for the money at Subway
Kitch: 0- miss the old brick walls and Italian stuff
Bonus: Good company/conversation kept my depression for the place away
Mario's Deli on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wood Yard BBQ

This was another one of the out-of-the-way places now made famous by spikey-haired Food Network types. So, excuse me if I was skeptical.
We smelled the place half way down the street and salivary glands kicked into overdrive. Then, you pull into a working wood yard, selling specialty wood for BBQ-ers. A nearby train was blaring its horn, some old country was playing on the speakers, and I knew I already liked it better than half the BBQ joints in KC, and I hadn't eaten anything yet.
There was line out the door. This doesn't always mean its good. I've stood in too many lines for crap BBQ. But, I watched orders going out the door to the lovely little brick patio out front and everything looked good. I ordered the burnt-end chili on the suggestion of a trusted friend and some cheesey corn, as I am a Jackstack BBQ cheesey corn fanatic.
The chili itself (and I was a National Chili Cook-off judge for years, thank you very much) was fantastic on its own. It was three bean variety, not too sweet, not too spicy. But, throw on the burnt ends, and holy shit!
Wow, that was some good chili. The cheesy-corn was forgettable, but I dumped it into the remnants of chili and kicked it up a notch.
The other Spooners gave the burnt end sandwich a thumbs up, and that's good enough for me, sir.
I will definitely returning to try some of their other treats.

Service: 4 Spoons Long-ish wait, but once the order was in, we got it quick from a nice old lady who called me "hun".

Food: 4 Spoons What I had, I'll stack up against any BBQ place around. Congrats Food Network, you got it right for once.

Kitch: 4 Old, rundown houses for a restaurants always work for me.

Bonus: Booze, and you get to watch the pitmaster work right out there on the patio.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Square PIzza

...where, wait for it....the pizza is square! Located on the Historic Independence Square. Sensing a trend? But goofy play on words aside, this is a good pizza joint. In a world of Dominoes, Pizza Butt and Papa Johns, it's good to know there still some solid pizza makers out there.
Square Pizza has the usual kinds of pizzas, Meat Lovers, Triple Cheese, but some different ones like the Monterey Chicken (ranch, chicken, tomatoes, bacon, red onions, mozzarella and monterey jack cheese). Prices aren't what you're going to pay for some delivery place, but this isn't delivery pizza, dummy. They do a lunch special, $6.99 for a large slice, salad and drink, and yes they do deliver.
They gots booze, too.
Price: 3 spoons, good food for a good price
Service: 4 spoons, walk up and order
Kitch: 3, full of Indy goodness
Bonus: You can watch the drunks stumble out of Big John's on the Corner, one of best, divey-est dive bars you'll ever find. And right next to Dave's Bakery, for your after pizza dessert.
photo used w/o any sort of permission.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clem's Drive-In

Oh, Clem's. What fond memories I have of you. My Dad, crumbly burgers falling out the bottom of my bun, and having to eat it with a plastic spoon. Great curly fries, super shakes, and the occasional brain sandwich my Old Man snuck in as a gag and watched me make a face when I figured out it wasn't a tenderloin. And the tenderloins. Some say the best in town. That was true.
Clem's withered and died a coupla of years back. New owners with new, clean grease pits took over and it's not the same.
When I saw the new sign and new coat of paint, I just had to try. I scouted ahead before I took Dad, just to make sure it was good. Glad I did. Service was awful. How long does it take to scoop out a crumbly burger? I like my fries crispy, not burnt, thank-you-very-much.
The shake was soupy and tasted weird. The tenderloin, oh the tenderloin. Just okay. 30 years of the same grease sure makes a place taste different.
I'm going to go take a nap now, and dream of Mugs Up.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Max's Auto Diner

Ok, I was watching that local restaurant PBS show and these 3 douches went on and on about how great this place in Waldo was. Again, I heard the famous line "it's the best hamburgers in the city" - Ring...Ring.. "Hello PBS.  I would like to pledge a whole sum of 'shut the hell up' please. Do I get a tote bag for that?"  Let me make this quick. The burgers taste like burger king , the curly fries are from Arby's and the milkshakes are from a dark awful place. The onion rings made me burp all day long, but were good. But the tots, I have to say, were pretty great as was the warm baklava. Kitch was fine classic little place and the service was pretty grumpy. So, if you need a burger, go around the corner to the old Dairy Queen (I know,  I know, it's a chain- but it's a time warp). They have a Dig-Dug machine, and the old yellow bench tables. And when they cook the burgers the whole inside fills up with smoke. It brought me back to 1985- hasn't changed a bit. So 2 spoons for Max's and 3 spoons for the DQ just for the memories.
Max's Auto Diner on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 30, 2010

RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack

When I saw that weirdo from the Food Network, the one with the white, spikey hair, was doing a KC BBQ special show, I had to watch, even though I don't normally catch "Diners, Dives and whatever". I was glad he chose off the grid places instead of the usual Oklahoma Joe's, Gates, Arthur Bryants triumvirate. One of said places he visited was RJ's Bob-Be-Que shack. I was intrigued by the menu that had things like smoke sausage in corn husks, and lamb ribs. And that the pit master was a classically trained chef.
So we went last week. You can tell the show had helped business. It was packed, and I heard several people talking about the show, "I never knew this place existed", or "I never heard of them til now"etc.
My fellow spooners had the ribs, while I ordered the rib meat sandwich and those aforementioned sausages.
The sandwich was like eating meat flavored hay. Dry, dry, dry. The sauce was ketchup mixed with honey. I think I remember the chef making the sauce on the show making the sauce using honey, and it tasted like it for sure. Oh, how I hates sweet sauce. The fries were good, but tasted like Red Robin fries. The slaw I could have got at Price Chopper.
For as long as I waited for the sausages, it wasn't worth it. You'd think something with jalapenos would have some flavor.
When I asked about the ribs, I got a "Meh?" and a shoulder shrug from my fellow Spooners.
Maybe there's a reason nobody's heard of 'em.

Price: 4 spoons
Service: 2 spoons, mostly because I got to hear way too much about our server's social life.
Kitch: 3 spoons. It's a BBQ place.
 On a side note, DD&D is doing a show on Swagger, a place readers know I love. He (spikey) better not do something to screw that up.
RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack on Urbanspoon