Sunday, February 22, 2009
Posted by Bull E. Vard
For Valentine's Day Stella and I went to Hereford House to enjoy a price fixe menu. Stella and I were going to share an appetizer, get each of us an entree and then split a dessert all for around $50. We went on a Sunday which is half price wine night and we got a Coppola Director's Cut Zinfandel, one of our favorites from our trip to Sonoma last summer.
We decided upon the stuffed mushrooms for the appetizer even though mushrooms seriously skeeve me out. One sight of those canned sliced mushrooms can make me nauseous for a full day. I have to really concentrate on not thinking about what I'm eating to get mushrooms down. I'm only able to do this with stuffed mushrooms or those button mushrooms from the Melting Pot. The Hereford House stuffed mushrooms are stuffed with crab and shrimp in addition to the cream cheese. They were pretty good, though, I may have enjoyed a dipping sauce.
For our entrees Stella got a 10 oz. prime rib and I got the 10 oz. KC strip that made Hereford House famous. Aside from steak and hamburgers we're not giant beef eaters, though we both enjoy sausage. We don't ever eat roasts or meat loafs or various other cuts of beef and rarely eat prime rib. I think Stella's first prime rib was at Thanksgiving at my brother's house a couple of years ago. The times I've had it, mostly at weddings, it's always been shaved real thin and I've never really enjoyed it. But this prime rib came out about an inch thick and covering the entire plate sitting in it's own au jus. I knew that I should have ordered prime rib right then.
My KC strip came out as pretty as a strip can be with perfect grill marks. One minor annoyance was the fries I got with it were the steakhouse cut fries which I normally despise. When I ordered I asked the waiter (he wasn't really our waiter more like the dining room host who was covering for the waiter*) what kind of fries they have and he didn't understand the question. So I asked if they were shoestring or thin or if they were the big cut kind and he said they were regular fries, so I went with fries. Luckily, the Hereford House steakhouse cut fries were really good. My steak was a perfect medium rare, with the same pink color throughout the entire steak. It was perfectly cooked. My problem with it, as it has been with every Hereford House steak I've had, is that it was underseasoned. I don't know what they have against salting there steaks but I always have to add some or the meat just borders on flavorless. And after spending the past 10 years only using kosher salt, regular salt shaker salt just doesn't seem like it can get the job done. It would be nice if restaurants put kosher salt on the table in addition to regular salt, but I rarely add salt to my food anyway, so I guess the point is somewhat moot.
*Our waiter had several tables to cover but the problematic one was the one right next to us. It seemed to be grandma's birthday and all of her children and grandchildren were there celebrating totalling about 12 people. The youngest grandchild was probably about 12 and all of the children were at least in their 40's. This was all fairly unremarkable except grandma loved her vodka and had a vodka straight up. Several of her children also ordered vodkas or gins, the most mixed drink of them all was someone ordering a gin and tonic. The funniest order was one of the children, again probably a 50 year old, asking how they made the martini. Our waiter explained that they pour the vermouth over the ice, dump the vermouth and pour in the vodka. This was apparently too much vermouth for the guy so he just ordered a vodka.
Stella's prime rib, on the other hand, was perfect. It had wonderful flavor, which is probably a function of the cut of meat, and we had no complaints. Stella didn't even use much of the horseradish sauce that came with it because the flavor was so spot on. I was hoping she would get up or turn away for a minute so I could swipe some of the au jus and dump it on my steak.
For dessert we tried to get the white chocolate bread pudding, one of our favorites from Pierpont's (Hereford House's sister restaurant that Stella and I frequent much more than Hereford House). Unfortunately, the waiter informed us that they were out of the bread pudding. We needed a couple of minutes to recover from the shock (I really love bread pudding) and decided between a couple of the other, rather pedestrian, dessert choices. Since I'm not really a dessert person, when I don't have the option of a bread pudding, I generally want something with fruit. So we chose the peach cobbler over the crème brulee. I found it strange that peach cobbler was even on the menu in February, but I trusted that they would have fresh peaches if it was offered.
When the waiter brought the cobbler he noticed our reaction to it and said something to the effect of, “it doesn't usually look like this, I guess they did something different”. What we were all reacting to was the cobbler topping which wasn't a flaky pie crustlike substance, rather, it looked like a pancake was atop the peaches. After eating as much meat as we just had, the last thing we wanted to do was eat a pancake. I took one bite of the pancake and then ate around it, it offered nothing but a little bit of nutmeg and cinnamon flavor, certainly not anything worth eating more than one bite of. The peaches and ice cream were fabulous and the peaches were fresh. With an appropriate crust it would have been a fine dessert.
So, over the past week, we've been talking about how good the prime rib was and I've been trying to make time to write this little blog post (not helped by my idea to write a KC beer baseball roster for the KC Beer Blog). Yesterday as I was looking for something in the kitchen I noticed a $50 gift certificate to the Hereford House. I thought it was the other half of the gift certificates Stella bought at Costco ($79 for $100 in gift cards for Hereford House, she split with her mother). So I asked Stella why the Hereford House gift cards came on paper like that. She told me Hereford House sent it to us after she filled out one of those survey things. She wrote that they had run out of bread pudding and the peach cobbler had some weird pancake thing on top of it. A manager at Hereford House contacted her tout de suite to tell her that none of that should have happened. He didn't know why we were served the peach cobbler and he didn't know how they could have run out of bread pudding. To make it up to us he sent us the $50 gift certificate.
So now, we get to go back and eat a couple of 10 oz. prime ribs for something approximating free. Even without the free $50 meal, we were pretty happy with our Hereford House meal. It was certainly worth the $65 we were out of pocket. But now that $65 has bought us an appetizer, 4 entrees and a subpar dessert. I don't think a better deal could be had.