Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tanglefoot Steak House

Festus Mo.
We visited this place last year, early in our exercise. We decided to go back to see if it still measured up.
The Place:
Located across the parking lot from Home Depot, just down from Panera (St. Louis Bread Company) and McDonalds.
The place is quite large, with a well appointed bar in the entry and several TV’s mounted on the walls. The sound was muted on all of them, just as well as there seemed to be only two viewing choices, bicycle racing and NASCAR. One is an actual sport involving physical exertion, body tone, exercise, steroids and Human Growth Hormone, the other merely another reason for rednecks, goat-ropers, hillbillies and other knuckle-draggers (and my sister) to use up gasoline, drink too much and get into pointless fights. Like its poorer cousin, professional wrestling, NASCAR is completely scripted, that’s right, it’s all fake. Trust me on this. Like the 1969 moon landing and the entire eighth season of ‘Dallas’ it’s not real. Most of the races are actually just staged using realistic model cars and clay-mation figures in a giant sound studio outside Gary, Indiana.
The place wasn’t crowded and we were seated immediately. Wood floors, textured white-ish walls and open rafters overhead, painted in a color I can only describe as ochre (or ocher), the color of iron rust.
To my disgust, I discovered that babies were allowed in the restaurant. Worse, they were allowed to sit right behind me. Not that I have anything against babies, I was an award-winning baby myself once*, it’s just that I don’t like them around me while I am working, eating, relaxing, sleeping or if they are making any kind of noise whatsoever.
We were handed our menus, drink orders were taken, Tea, tea, and Coke.
The Food:
I looked over the steak offerings, though since it had been a hot, humid day, I really wasn’t in the mood for a huge steak. I had noticed on the way in that the special was steak and shrimp, which if the steak was small enough would be okay. It wasn’t listed on the menu, so I asked the dude about it when he came to take our order. “Two six ounce steaks and four jumbo shrimp.” He answered. I was perplexed. Sometimes more just isn’t better. “Mmmm, that sounds great, “I’ll have the catfish.” I replied.
Angel ordered the tilapia and shrimp, Adam, the chicken tenders. Just as the dude was walking away Angel leapt up, knocked over the table and shouted at him. “Lobster rangoons!” Okay, to be honest she didn’t leap or yell. She did order the appetizer though and then allowed Adam to choose one for himself since lobster rangoons potentially contain actual seafood, he went for the fried ravioli.** She remembered the rangoons from our first visit, and so did I as soon as she mentioned them.
The appetizers arrived in short order. They were just as good as I had remembered, sweet, crisp, creamy and yummy. The ravioli was pretty good as well. We saved a few of the rangoons just so we could enjoy them later at home. I assume Angel ate them all.
The wait for the main course was about five or ten minutes too long. We were reduced to watching silent racing bicycles and fake cars. When the food did come I recalled one thing I didn’t care for at Tanglefoot; the lack of variety on the plate. My catfish came with a ramekin of potato salad, and that’s all, two tidy filets and a bowl of potato salad. Angel’s tilapia and shrimp came with a spinach au-gratin. The plates seemed barren, like something was missing. A veggie would have been nice, so would a little side salad or maybe even a lemon or some tartar sauce. But no, the meal didn’t come with any of that.
When the dude came around again I asked for tartar sauce, he looked at me as if I were about to put peanut butter on caviar. He brought me some, though to call it tartar sauce was a stretch, it was more like . . .mayonnaise. Better than nothing.
The fish itself was very well prepared and still moist. The potato salad baffled me. I’m a former southern boy and I expect potato salad to be yellow from the mustard you make it with. This was brown and not sweet, it was like they used some of that fancy Dijon mustard instead of the real, all-American yellow stuff. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what my eyes and taste buds were expecting.
Angel said her fish was quite good despite being crispy around the thin edges. She shared a bit of her spinach au gratin. I liked it, though she didn’t quite finish it. Adam’s chicken was prepared well, and there was lots of it, enough that he didn’t finish, so we boxed it up with the remaining rangoons and some of Angel’s tilapia.
Angel put her finger on it, a key missing ingredient, bread. There were no complimentary rolls, biscuits, toast or even breadsticks. That would have helped fill out the plate, as would a simple vegetable offering.
The food was all good, and not incredibly overpriced. All told, including two appetizers, the bill came to sixty three bucks and change before the tip. Not too bad for quality meals, there just wasn’t enough there.
Off the Hook in (near) DeSoto is the closest comparison I can offer up. We had similar meals there, three appetizers, plus three meals that came with extras like slaw and beans and as I recall, complimentary bread, all well prepared and for about twenty bucks less. My catfish at OTH came with fries, slaw, baked beans and real tartar sauce. (My notes from OTH also indicate that they too allow babies, so I guess they’re even on that score at least.) Tanglefoot is okay, in fact the food is pretty good, but I really don’t see the unique draw aside from the lobster rangoons. We discussed it at length and agreed that although the food was pretty good, the value, what you get for what you pay, was simply not there. I rated it an ‘A’ last year, I think I’ll have to drop it to a ‘B’ this time.

* Award winning baby: I’m not kidding, I’ve got a picture, and I think my mom still has the ribbon, yeah, if she really loves me she’ll even know exactly where it is.

** Fried ravioli: Apparently this is a St. Louis thing. Legend has it that a local chef accidentally dropped some ravioli in a deep fryer, tasted it, thought it needed a little something and took some more, breaded and fried it and voila! A new food invention! Being as I am from the south and also a big fan of carnival food, I don’t see how this is such a big deal. Okay, canned Chef-Boy-R-Dee ravioli may not count as actual ravioli downtown, but I am sure that someone, somewhere has deep fried it before. Breading and deep frying can make anything better including canned meals, road kill and Twinkies.. But now I’m just sounding like a NASCAR fan.

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