Monday, September 9, 2013

Tanglefoot

1198 Gannon Drive
Festus, Mo.
www.tanglefootsteakhouse.com
'Tanglefoot' refers to an early name for the city of Festus. The story is that Crystal City, (then known as  'New Detroit') being a company town based around the large plate glass factory there, didn't allow alcohol to be sold in the town. Festus rose up just outside the city's limits and boomed in the industry of booze sales to the factory workers. They would, according to the story, get so wasted that they would stagger and fall several times on the way back, as if they had tangled their feet. I'm not making that up.

The Place:
True to its legend, the restaurant known as Tanglefoot Steakhouse serves alcohol, a wide variety of beers, big name and craft. It is located across from the Home Depot.
It's a large place with a  separate bar/bistro section and main dining areas. I wanted to go there because I didn't want pizza or burgers, and because we hadn't visited in quite a while. Our recollections were not very positive, we recalled sparse portions and high prices for them.
We were led to a booth which, like the other booths, looked odd. The tables were four foot by four foot squares. This meant that those across from you at your table were quite a distance away. The place was packed, the din of the other patrons, mostly family groups, was loud enough that we had to practically shout to talk to Adam. Whereas Angel and I could hear each other at normal conversation level, he could not.
I didn't like this, at all.
The Food:
I glanced through the menu, I was in the mood for a small steak, the aroma of charring meat as we entered aroused a primal urge. No, not that one, it was the the hunger one, though sometimes I do confuse the two. I wanted charred meat.
Phyllis took our drink order. She seemed experienced and focused. Sometimes younger waiters seem distracted, confused or just stupid, Phyllis was certainly not. Tea, sweet tea and root beer.
By the time she brought our drinks we were ready to order. Angel announced she was going to dine on an appetizer followed by a dinner salad.
Phyllis recited the daily special, prime rib with shrimp, a baked potato and a side salad. I couldn't recall ever having prime rib. I was originally going to have something similar, a small filet with shrimp and Alfredo sauce, but I decided to step out to the edge and go with the special. I asked that the potato be replaced with green beans. I'm trying to cut back on the massive amount of carbs that normally make up most of my meals.
Angel ordered the Lobster Rangoons, an appetizer I recalled being quite good. She added a steakhouse salad, which came topped with onion rings and fried portabello mushrooms. Adam opted for the pork steak with mashed potatoes and green beans. Why not? You can't go wrong with a simple thing like green beans. (or can you?)
Around us, on the walls were several TV's, all the old CRT type, all tuned to sports. Fortunately they were all muted. Also on the walls were several nice framed and matte'd  B&W photos of Festus in the past. Angel and Adam turned the massive table top into a field for an impromptu tabletop soccer game, using a crumpled up straw wrapper as the ball. This embarrassed me intensely.
Lobster Rangoon
The tea, well the tea was not very good. I'll give it a minus one on the newly instituted PJTea scale.*
The Lobster rolls arrived first. At $8.99 that was more than a buck each. However, they were worth it. We fell in love with these things when we first had them a few years back. It amazes me that a place that can turn out such a wonderful, complex item like this could stumble so badly on other, simpler things.... more on that later. The Rangoons were wonderful, rich, creamy, crisp and flavorful. You could taste the lobster. I had one, just one. Angel got the rest since Adam and seafood don't like each other.
My side salad
My salad arrived a few minutes later. Simple, fresh, perfectly adequate. Well, except for the tomatoes, there were none. I plucked the croutons off and gave them to Adam, because. . .unnecessary carbs. I also asked for my salad dressing on the side since that's what dieters do. Sure enough, I only used a little. I had to cut up the handsome, but too big to eat in one bite, cucumber wedge.
Prime Rib
The main courses arrived in good time, I'd finished off my salad and Angel had devoured the Rangoons. What was placed in front of me was quite less than beautiful. Under the ramekin of beans (in the picture, between the beans and the lemon wedge) was a napkin, probably there to soak up the juices from the steak. It was not pretty, saturated soggy and brownish it was not appetizing at all. The prime rib looked pale, a sickly beige and dull pink slab of meat with generous fat and gristle sparkling in the light.  They had also provided a ramekin of au jus (gesundheit!) that only tasted greasy and salty. The green beans were thick with bacon bits and onions. I tried them first, my second bite of them was my last, same for Adam and his beans. They tasted like under-cooked frozen green beans. Even though there were generous portions of bacon bits and diced onions, they were incredibly bland.
Steakhouse Salad
I struggled to cut a piece of meat, struggled more to separate the strip of fat away. It was tough, chewy and had a taste that I recalled from childhood when mom would boil up a roast. It was not a pleasant taste. It  too, was bland. The texture, tough and chewy were more pronounced than any discernible taste. Even with a dousing of the au jus (gesundheit!) I felt no urge to finish it. So I didn't. I ate about half out of the middle. The off-putting appearance, a sickly pink, like 50's phones and toilets, did nothing at all to make it more appetizing. I really wished I'd stuck with my original choice, the small filet. The shrimp were garlic-y, big and also rubbery . A couple were cold.  The flavor was good, but they'd been over-cooked.
Pork Steak
Angel's salad was loaded with shredded steak of some kind, there were several onion rings and mushrooms. Both being breaded and deep fried the salad was actually pretty high calorie and very filling. The breading on the mushrooms was heavy and hard, she suspected they were of the frozen variety. She only finished about half of it, boxed up the rest. She remarked that my plate, lacking anything deep fried or breaded, actually looked much healthier than hers.
Adam tore out the fat from his pork steak, there was a lot of it. Overall the sauce slathered meat received a 'not bad' from the boy.

Summary:
Disappointing. At sixty two dollars and change, very disappointing. The only excellent dish was the appetizer, the lobster Rangoons. Everything else was mediocre to lousy. The green beans were easily the worst I've had at any restaurant.
As for the Prime rib, I can't really completely condemn it until I've had the dish somewhere else. I don't recall ever ordering it anywhere else, so maybe this was exactly what it was  supposed to be. . If it is typical of the type, I doubt if I'll ask for it again. I really wish I'd stuck with the filet.
Our server, Phyllis, did an excellent job. Substitutions were correct, service was quick and complete. She checked on us a couple of times and refilled our drinks promptly. Thanks primarily to her efforts, I can't say anything bad at all about the service.
Angel shook her head as we left. "I just can't see what the draw is." She said. I looked behind the restaurant, and saw a large hotel. Maybe that was it.
Unlike the last time we went, the portions this time were generous, they were overpriced and just not very good.
Please comment or email if I'm calling this wrong.

_____________________

*PJTea Scale

Last week at Pizza Junction, Steve, the manager, was the first person ever in a restaurant to ask what I thought of his joint's tea. I responded that it was about average. In honor of his asking, I have named the new grading system the PJ (for Pizza Junction) Tea scale where all other tea will be judged as being either better or worse than Pizza Junction's. I have also found perfect zero. In Hopkinsville, Kentucky last week, I went to a Godfather's Pizza. The self-serve un-sweet tea dispenser there served straight water, no tea at all in the tea.






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