Sunday, May 30, 2004

Brooklyn's Grill

Hi. I have been to six restaurants since the site started, and I will be endeavoring to review all of them as soon as possible.

I went to lunch with two business associates to the newly-opened Brooklyn's Grill on Wednesday, May 26. The restaurant has been through several iterations during my lifetime, this latest on seems to be as an upscale urban grill with a 'mobster' theme. The owner stopped by during our meal and said they had been open for about two weeks.

Brooklyn's is a promising establishment, but deeply flawed in ways that could probably be easily rectified with a little care and common sense. I am not optimistic that the changes have a chance of being made, but there's no harm in suggesting.

Brooklyn's is a long, narrow establishment, dominated by a long faux granite bar. The prevalence of the bar and multiple televisions mounted on the walls makes it seem to be more of a bar than a restaurant, though the menu and staff make that seem unlikely. The dining area consists of several tables that run the length of the main room, with the bar taking up about half of the other side. The drop ceiling is made of tiles that have been molded and painted gold to appear like a tin ceiling, a nice touch.

The waitstaff all dress in what I can only call mobster stripper chic - oversize coats and suits with tipped black hats. The service was poor, the waitresses seemed unsure of everything, even how to pronounce 'vinaigrette'. All of them babbled every time they came into contact with our table, which made dining more tedious than it needed to be.

The menu was a basic upscale sandwich grill, various burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and wraps. Nearly everything was $7.95 for a sandwich, pickle and fried potato chips. I had a hard time following the order of the menu which had several spelling errors, trying to discern what side items came with each category of food was unnecessarily difficult. All of the menu items were named mobster-ish things like the "'You Talkin' to Me' Burger" which were not clever at all .

Being a vegetarian on Wednesdays, I ordered a Portabella Mushroom sandwich, which I ordered as such, not being one for cutesy names. The waitress was confused and asked me if I meant whatever silly name they had given the sandwich this routine was repeated for each member of our party who ordered a chicken wrap and a cheeseburger.

The sandwich was fine but unremarkable, a cooked mushroom on focaccia bread with swiss cheese and a few rings of red onion which could have used some sort of sauce for flavor. The bread was cut thin- juices from the mushroom continually seeps through a hole in the top of the sandwich.
Each sandwich came with what the waitress described as 'home-made thin-sliced seasoned potato chips'. I describe them as 'bland and crunchy.'

Overall, I would call Brooklyn's a poor experience. I say it's promising because a few improvements would make a dramatic difference.
1. Loose the over-the-top mobster thing: lose the costumes and name the food items things that make sense with what they are. The decor is open, bright and clean - you're already not going all-out with the mobster theme, so drop the kitsch.
2. Get rid of the televisions in the dining area (or turn them off during the day): The televisions distract from lunch and dinner conversation, Oshkosh does not need another place you can watch ESPNews while eating. If this is supposed to be a sports bar, they have the wrong menu and decor.
3. Train the waitstaff: After two weeks I don't expect them to have the menu memorized, but I do expect that they act courteously and have some understanding of how the serving process works.
4. Either improve the food by a full iteration or lower prices $1-$2 per item: The food was not nearly as ambitious as The Water City Grill's sandwich menu, but was noticeably more expensive.

With some serious changes like this, Brooklyn's could be a good alternative to the Water City Grill for slightly upscale, casual dining for business lunch or a nice dinner. But, unless changes are made, I would not recommend Brooklyn's to anyone over Jansen's, the Chalice or Friar Tuck's, all of whom offer more diverse menus, better service and better prices without as much half-done kitsch.
It may be unfair to compare after two weeks only, but the owners also run Razz Ma Tazz, so this is not their first restaurant.
I imagine the owners view their new endeavor as competition for the Water City Grill, but they have along, hard road to even belong in the same category.


Blogger blackcat04 said...

I couldn't agree more where you are coming from with the brooklyn. They could never compete with water city grill.
I would have to say that the best place to dine in oshkosh is the Razz Ma Tazz located on 9th and 41. It is just a great atmosphere if you're dining or if you are at the bar. I visit the Razz Ma Tazz 3-5 per week and suggest that all you do to.

6:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home