Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bobby Munzert’s

Highway B and Highway 21
Hillsboro, MO.
The Munzert family has been in the restaurant business in Jefferson County for nearly a thousand years. For many of those years Bobby had a steakhouse at the corner of BB* and 21, right next to the courthouse. This new place just opened the day before we went, we’d found out about it from the local weekly paper.
Regardless of how many eons your family has run restaurants, the first few days of any new one are going to be rough. This is exactly why I wanted to go as soon after opening as possible. The plan was to go, then go again in a couple of months to see if the place improves on its certain discrepancies.
Keep that in mind as you read this, that we fully expected service issues and understand and forgave them completely. I will point them out, but only as a record for later comparison.
The Place:
Not a new construction, there has been something, a bar maybe, at this location up until recently. It’s at the last traffic light heading south out of Hillsboro. We were a bit surprised when we first saw it, we’d never seen that parking lot so full. The place looked crowded, so much so that we decided to consider plan B. So we drove past, discussed plan B and soon realized we didn’t actually have a plan B. So we turned around and went in. Though the lot was crowded there was no one waiting outside. We ducked in and realized that this place was much larger on the inside than on the outside. There were two large, distinct sections, the bar side and the dining side. The bar side had TV’s people laughing, drinking, smoking, the dining side had a couple of middle aged families sitting, waiting and staring at the bar side.
We were seated immediately by the hostess, a young lady that seemed to know where she wanted us, at a table, not a booth.
She handed us menus then disappeared.
The motif was black on rust. Not the bad kind of rust, corrosion, but the color, a dark orange-ish color that actually looked classy trimmed with black tables, chairs, booths and carefully folded black linen napkins at each place setting. The floors were wood laminate, pale oak or pine. The walls above the chair rail were cream colored, hard to tell exactly in the dim light. Several pictures of various sizes, mostly black and white set a theme. Mae West, the Lone Ranger, Marylyn Monroe, 40’s / 50’s stuff. The wait staff was all dressed in black shirts and pants, matching the overall palette. Music hovered slightly over the din, Sinatra, big band, classy, it complimented the photos on the walls. The din was a problem. The smooth walls and floor, high ceilings and lack of drapes made the whole place too ‘soundy.’ It was like sitting in a crowded gymnasium, every sound carried and echoed. A booming voice occasionally emanated from the bar side, I could make out the voice but not actually see the person it belonged to.
The menu was simple, Bobby decided on a classy, minimal approach, which I appreciate. Steaks, Lobster, Shrimp, Chicken and a few burgers and sandwiches. The prices seemed a little uptown, but this apparently wasn’t going to be a ham and beans joint.
We decided rather quickly, but waited quite a while for anyone to notice. The waitress finally came around with a small, generic spiral notebook and jotted down our orders, including drinks, tea, tea and Coke.
The drinks arrived rather slowly, heavy stemmed glasses, tea, but no ice. There were slight hints that there at one time was ice, but there was none in the glasses. Looking around we noticed that the other tables were being served water. We never were. We also had little plates like for bread, but never got that either.
The Food:
I went all out and ordered the 6oz. filet mignon, with baked potato and green beans. Angel asked for the New York Strip, potato and asparagus (yuck). Adam went for the blackened chicken sandwich and steak fries.
This was our last contact with the wait staff for a half hour. We watched them scurry about, several times they stopped and counted aloud to figure out a table number. Trays of food were taken to one table, then another, until the correct table was found. Water was served and refilled except at our table.
At one point a tray-laden waitress stopped at our table and asked “Burger and Tilapia?” No, not ours. We were getting hungry, some bread would have been good. “We should have said yes to the burger and tilapia.” I offered. It did look good. At one point I took the bread plate and held it suspended over the floor, offering to drop it just to get the staff’s attention. Angel shook her head at me. Our tea was gone, Adam’s Coke was nearly so. Nearly twenty five minutes in to the wait our server did stop, probably because I was holding up my empty glass. “Can I have my tea with ice this time?” I asked, not in a scolding way. She smiled and returned promptly with fresh drinks, without taking away the empties.
Several times members of the staff joined up and pointed at tables with confused looks.
Like I said though this was expected.
The food finally arrived and about all I can say about it was that it was very, very good. The steaks were superbly cooked to order, peppered just enough. The potatoes were soft with crunchy skins, the green beans were tender but not too much so. Angel offered to let me taste her asparagus, I hissed and spat at her. She enjoyed her steak, at one point picking up a slightly pink chunk, staring at it on her fork, and quoting a line from her favorite movie said: “I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious.”
Yeah she can quote the movie, pretty much the whole thing. To which I responded: “Whoa. Déjà vu.” Watch the movie, it’ll all make sense.
Adam finished his completely which as you know by now means everything was great.
The waitress came by again, eventually, and took away the empty plates and dropped off the bill. It came to sixty dollars and change. What was noticeable was that we weren’t even offered desert even though there was a desert sampler tray a few feet away. We didn’t really want desert, but I’m just saying, we weren’t even offered. From bill drop off to return was about ten minutes. Not as bad as it could have been but still kind of slow.
I’ll repeat myself, the wait problems were fully expected. A new crew in a new restaurant hasn’t had the time to nail down all the timings and organization. I would have been stunned if it had gone any better.
The price was higher than I expected for Hillsboro, but the quality of the meals was better as well. I went in assuming this would be a small town diner affair with greasy fried chicken, pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy. It was not. Bobby is going for a more upscale venue. I hope it works out, I really do.
Yes we will be back, the food was simply great. I do recommend it with certain caveats, that it is still new and there are definite service kinks because of it.

*Lettered highways. This is a Missouri thing. It can often be confusing and infuriating. There is apparently a method behind the madness which is rather poorly explained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_supplemental_route
Highway B and Highway BB are near each other, but not the same, nor do they intersect. The double letters usually indicate a lesser road than a single letter. This system has been known to cause problems with 911 dispatch trying to determine an address. This can also make for somewhat embarrassing statements as I once had to when I lived outside Republic ,Mo., “I live near PP and TT.”
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  1. I notice a reacurring theme ...steak..ewwwww

  2. LOVE....This place!! Superb food!

  3. We ate there tonight. Had Turkey burgers and Frisco melts with the seasoned steak fries. The food was awesome. The wait staff was on top of everything. Finally found a local place with awesome food.

  4. Been at this location at least 5 times and kept thinking it would be better the next time, if there would be a next time. Ordered a simple hamburger medium-well and it was so dry and burnt around the edges. This happened several times with the burgers. The waitress said "just say medium next time" I coundn't believe it. i said that there probable won't be a next time. She said nothing.

  5. Guess this place is o.k. for a Sports Bar in a small town, but not necessary to call it a "fine dining steak house" b/c it is anything but. Also not needed is a hostess at the front door. I think she may be better served keeping the ladies bathroom clean and spruced up. It was dirty and needed some minor repairs such as making the bathroom door function and lock properly, paint the door, clean up the scuff marks, clean it hourly, and how about a little decorating, pictures, flowers, etc. As a rule, women will judge a restaurant overall on the appearance and cleanliness of the bathrooms. Just keep that in mind.

  6. Has Bobby Munzert's closed?