Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bobby Munzert’s

Hillsboro, Mo
It had been nearly a year since we’d been to Munzert’s. We went soon after it  first opened, and again a couple of months later. At the time we discussed new-restaurant concerns and gave them a break since they were just starting up.
Over a year into it, it was time to take the gloves off.

The Place:
Located at the intersection of Highway B and old 21 (Main Street) in Hillsboro. It was early in the evening and the place was less than 1/3 full. We were seated in a back-corner booth immediately. The place had changed a little, but not drastically. It was neat, clean, dark, and lined up with white tablecloths and folded navy-blue napkins enveloped the silverware settings. An oil candle burned on each table, the music was big-band swing and classic crooners, Tony Bennett, et al.
The hostess handed us menus and shortly one of the two or three floor staff asked for drink orders. Tea, unsweetened for me, because I’m already sweet enough, and sweetened for Angel, because, well lets just leave it there. Adam asked for a Coke/Pepsi, got a Coke.
The menu was smaller than I recalled. Sure enough, a couple of the items we’d ordered previously were no longer offered. If there was anything new it wasn’t apparent. They’d pared down the menu some, which is a good thing. It shows they react to customers’ wants. The remaining offerings covered a good deal of ground of the basics. Steak was the headliner, along with high end burgers and some pasta dishes. Picky children might not have a lot to choose from, but for adults the selection was just right. The wait staff moved around smoothly, professionally, smartly dressed in black pants and shirts.
The drinks were delivered in those heavy stemmed glasses I’d noted previously. The tea looked clear and bright, fresh, though not as strong as I would have preferred, but infinitely better than old bitter tea.
The Food:
Myself: 6 oz. Filet Mignon, Baked potato (with bacon, cheese, sour cream) and a Caesar Salad.
Angel: 9 oz New York Strip, Baked potato (sour cream) and Caesar Salad.
Adam: Blackened Chicken sandwich (no tomatoes), fries (non-spicy) and Caesar salad.
Our salads were delivered quickly, small portions (thankfully) along with soft, but not too soft rolls served with foil-wrapped pats of actual butter. The rolls were still warm enough to completely melt the butter, which sounds obvious enough but such a thing is rarer than one might imagine. In many places the butter is kept frozen, rock hard and short a thermonuclear event will never melt completely on even the warmest of rolls. Munzert’s had this right. The butter was not frozen, it wasn’t warm either, but those few degrees between ‘rock-hard’ and ‘soft enough to melt quickly’ are crucial to the enjoyment of buttered rolls.
The salads were simple, a few greens, some red onion and a couple of croutons, with a dressing that was not too strong, but certainly more than just oil and vinegar, just right. Served on clear, square, glass plates, it was small enough that it left room for the heavy meal to come. So far, so good.

The wait for the main courses was not long. Each plate was complete, no omissions, no mess, no mistakes. No steak sauce was offered, a good sign. A good steak doesn’t need A-1, and if A-1 improves your steak, it wasn’t really a good one. I appreciated their optimism. We were asked to check for doneness, we did, and were pleased. The steak-maker was a pro. Seared to crunchy on the outside, the pink line inside was just where it was supposed to be. The knives delivered with the steak were more than suitable for the task of breaking down these tender beauties.
The potatoes were clear of blemishes and cooked perfectly. I actually prefer an over-baked potato, I like the crispy skin, but this was done as perfectly as could be without actually initiating the cremation process. It was not over-topped, which was also good.
The filet melted beneath the knife, it sliced like butter. Each bite was tender, juicy and smoky. Angel made passionate moaning, gnawing sounds. She’d had a busy day and had not eaten much of anything.
Adam was making short work of his sandwich, and when asked, grunted a monosyllabic “Good.” Which if you will recall about as good as it gets. His fries however resulted in “Fine.” Which is still pretty good.  Actually I’d asked him if they were okay, he answered “Yeah”, but I know my son and can confidently translate what he said related into what he meant.
The pitcher ladies kept our drinks topped off, and even brought an extra glass filled with ice. “The tea’s hot when we pour it, there’s some more ice for you in case yours melts too fast.” She said to explain the gift. I appreciated more than she could possibly know. This meant the tea was fresh, very fresh. I was starting to get the notion that maybe they’d read my blog. (Earlier blogs complain of too little ice, and the refills being too seldom.)
I finished the vast majority of my steak, Angel all of hers, the sandwich and fries had disappeared completely.
Angel mentioned that it was good to see bread, the rolls that came with the salad were followed up by one each on the steak plates. I recalled that I’d mentioned a bread shortage in my last Munzert’s blog as well.
I asked Angel about her meal. “One good piece of meat.”
And I agreed. The steaks at Munzert’s are the best I’ve had anywhere around.  A couple of places have good steaks, Ruby Tuesdays’ even had a great one, once. These were obviously very good cuts/grades of meat. All the steaks we’ve had here are very, very good.

 The service was spot-on, professional and efficient. The atmosphere was comfortable, causal but classy (considering the location). The price was higher than a quick dinner at Hillsboro’s other places, but in this case, well worth it. The bill was nearly fifty five dollars. I can pay the same at TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesdays, Outback, etc. but the chains, oddly enough, lack consistency. Munzert’s has apparently decided to become a premier steakhouse, it shows in the choice of meat and the attention to detail when preparing it. Most people around Hillsboro can’t afford to pay that much for a meal very often, but at least we know we are going to get our money’s worth when we do.
Highly recommended!

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