Sunday, May 10, 2009

Boo, Hiss No. 1

Typically, I don't blog about a restaurant unless I thought it was particularly good. But now and then I have such a crappy dining experience that it just has to be shared. Half a dozen examples from my eating career come instantly to mind.

Today's flame-broiled restaurant review is in honor of the clubhouse at the Indian Lakes resort in Bloomingdale, Illinois, somewhat west of Chicago's O'Hare Airport. A few years ago, during a theological conference at that hotel, I joined two or three other pastors for a meal in the restaurant. One of my colleagues had a coupon for something like $30 off the meal, so we thought we had a good deal. We ended up with something else entirely.

In the course of an hour and a half each of us was served, first, a limp, wilted salad that looked as though a yak had blown its nose on it; then a tough, room-temperature slab of prime rib that tasted like an armpit smeared with raw liver; and with it a baked potato so dry and leathery that it should have been used for batting practice.

Our waiter never refilled our drinks. In fact, he made himself so scarce that a dropped fork would have been a catastrophe. (Or a godsend, depending on how you look at it.) We spent the last half-hour sucking on ice cubes and wondering when we were going to see the bill. It finally came, after deducting the coupon, to over $100.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but something tells me the meal wasn't worth it.

The conference in question has moved, in its annual incarnations, from Chicago to St. Louis to, most recently, the Twin Cities. As a pleasant alternative to Indian Lakes I would like to recommend the Ramada Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, where the restaurant is excellent and the banquet foodservice is absolutely the best. Plus, its neighborhood has more to interest me than a golf course in Chicago. I wouldn't mind if the event came back to St. Louis, for my own private, selfish reasons; but another helping of the RMoA's hospitality wouldn't go amiss.

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