Tuesday, June 28, 2011

d. Dooley’s 026 Grill

568 Old Smizer Mill Road
Fenton, MO

We’ve been busy the last couple of weekends and didn’t really eat out together. We’re all back now and ready for some more saucy, hard-hitting and articulate reviews.
The day was hot and humid, threatening early evening storms. I'd spent the morning saying a final farewell to a long-time hobby. For years I have been rescuing old computers, taking them home, fixing them up, making them do things together. In just the last five years since we last purged excess junk (moved) I'd still managed to accumulate quite a pile. About a year ago is the last time I recall even visiting the basement area where I kept my dusty pile. Somewhere along the line I'd simply lost interest in old computers and the tricks they could be taught. There's no market for the stuff, all of it at least ten years old, several generations behind contemporary usefulness. So I put an ad on Craigslist under 'Free' and watched the emails pile up. I called a guy who indicated that he was in the refurbishing/recycling business. He seemed legit and we lined up a Saturday morning pickup. I sprained several muscles lugging the junk upstairs, even with a trailer. He showed up promptly and loaded it up, filling to overflowing the small pickup's bed.
"We'll DOD wipe the hard drives." he assured me.
"Not necessary, I pulled the personal hard drives."
"Oh, Okay."
I had.  Old hard drives contain old data, like your SSN, your phone numbers, your frequently visited web sites. I don't let those things loose into the wild. Instead I perform a technical task on them commonly referred to as 'shooting the drives'. It's actually a quite simple process if you happen to live out in the country and own a high powered rifle or two. A handgun doesn't quite have the penetrating power needed, they're better suited for keyboards and monitors. I know this because, yes, I have shot a hard drive with a .45 Colt 1911. A Czechoslovakian M1922 Mauser is much better for this particular job.
I felt no regrets seeing the stuff disappear. Angel seemed pleased, more room for her junk now.

The Place:
The little ‘d.’ is for Dan, the proprietor, I don’t know what the ‘026’ is about. It’s been in business since 2005, located just off highway 141 on the far side of I-44.
It’s in a large new-ish strip shopping center, a handsome place though it completely lacks pub-like character. It emulates a modern sports-themed Irish eatery, like O’ Charley’s though without the backing of a national chain.
Angel had found it on the interwebs, we’d not heard of it before. The menu was enticing, something for everyone. Steaks, pasta, seafood, pizza, the whole nine yards.
It wasn’t too busy, we were led immediately to a booth in the back. The dark, charcoal carpet was very worn, the tables and chairs themed in red and black, the booths added a hunter-green. Cheap blond wainscoting went up from the floor to a beige/tan/gray-ish painted wall, the color was so neutral that I couldn’t even figure out how to describe it. The obligatory high, open ceiling was painted rust-brown, exposing pipes and vents and a few large ceiling fans. Each booth had a wall mounted tin lamp with it’s own dimmer switch.
The menus were single large-page, double sided and locally laminated, also well-worn.
Our waitress took our drink order, Beer (Sam Adams), tea and Pepsi. She was not amused at my original request: “I’ll have a beer.” and absently demanded specificity. Her obvious lack of humor canceled my plans to ask for sauerkraut later.
The drinks were delivered promptly and we placed our order.
The Food:
Me: Philly Strip steak (cheese, onions, peppers) with a baked potato and a side salad. I asked for a dressing recommendation and accepted the house blend ‘Ranch, Bacon, Parmesan’.
Angel: Nine inch ‘Gerber’ Pizza with side salad.
Adam: Chicken Club sandwich, hold the tomato, curly fries.
The wait for the food was not terribly long, though something was missing. We’d also ordered an appetizer, pretzel bites with cheese sauce. We waited and waited, made fun of each other and made terrible remarks about other people in the restaurant. Finally the salads arrived. The waitress was just about to walk off when I inquired about the appetizer. She had obviously forgotten because, though I’m no mind reader I can tell the difference in facial expressions between “Hmm, I’ll go check on them” (which is what she said) and "Oops forgot all about them”. Which is what her face showed. She was back in less than a minute with the pretzel chunks.
The salads were small, simple and fresh. The house special dressing was smoky, bacon-y and not overly sweet or tart. The salads only contained lettuce, onion and grated white cheese.  There was so much cheese that it ended up in the bottom of the bowl all bound together by the dressing. A little less would have been better.
Shortly our plates arrived, delivered by someone other than our waitress. Some places do this, I do not approve. I like single points of service, the delivery person did not know who got which plate, so she asked and we pointed.
She left quickly. In about fifteen seconds I determined that the butter knife I had was not going to carve through the thick, medium-rare steak. It took a couple of minutes to flag down someone, our own original waitress as it turned out. She returned with what resembled a bowie knife. It was sharp enough for the job though, so what if it made me look like Crocodile Dundee. My potato was massive and was served with four condiment tubs of Country Crock faux-butter and a half cup of sour creme. I glanced around for my Doctor. I didn’t spot him so I piled it on.
The steak was covered in what at one time had been melted cheese. By the time I cut into it though it had partially re-assembled itself into a warm blob. It did not cut well with the steak so it got mostly left behind. The onions and peppers were fine, just not enough of them.
Angel offered me a chunk of her little pizza the ‘Gerber’ which was ham, garlic butter and cheese, thin crust. It wasn’t bad but my problem with St. Louis cheese blends is that they seem to be a bit too sweet. Angel admitted that it was very rich.
Adam’s sandwich and fries disappeared quickly, though he remarked that the chicken was okay, but not noteworthy. I was the last one done, too much food again.

          The food was pretty good, we decided to go back sometime but order something else. The service was the least impressive part. Not that it was bad, just inattentive. Very little follow-up, very little more than minimal service.
The bill came in around fifty-eight dollars, about the same as Ruby Tuesday’s or Chili’s, for similar offerings and theme. There was nothing outstanding about it at all, but nothing really bad either.  If we lived closer it might call for more frequent visits, but there’s lots of other (slightly) better places between Dooley’s and our house. I wouldn’t be ashamed to take guests there, but once again, there are several other places that fit that description as well.
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