Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Say Meh

Ever since Stella saw You Say Tomato (2801 Holmes) on the PBS show "Check Please" she has wanted to go. You see, for a Nebraskan, like Stella, bierocks, which they call Runzas because of the ubiquitous Nebraska chain, are irresistible. Since there just aren't that many places around town that sell bierocks once she hears of one, we have to go.

So this weekend we had the chance after some shopping on the Plaza (we picked up the pumpkin pecan butter from Williams-Sonoma to make these). Before today I've never been to the Dutch Hill neighborhood, I just never make it that far east in midtown. I only know the name of the neighborhood because it was noted in the Ferruzza review of You Say Tomato that was posted at our table.

You Say Tomato is in the only building in the neighborhood that isn't industrial or a house (at least on Holmes). I would describe the building as decoratively worn, others might call it rundown, still others might call it charming. I think the description of the outside will vary based on how much someone might like what's inside. Inside is an oddly little laid out restaurant. They want you to call it a grocery too and they do have some items for sale, but if you're going there for anything other than fresh fruit you're probably not going to find what you want. On the left hand side is the grocery section, on the right hand side about 10 mismatched tables, in the back is an open kitchen and counter to do your ordering.

We weren't able to find a table that would fit all of us (Stella, me and the 3 kids). Luckily a youngish couple sitting at a really large table for 6 agreed to move to a smaller table so we could sit at the big table. Once we got the kids sat down and situated, I went up to the counter to order. I knew everyone else was having a bierock I just had to figure out what I was going to have. They have quite a selection of make your own sandwiches (choose your bread, meat, toppings etc.), knishs (which were tempting) a panini of the week, a couple of salads and soups and a bunch of breakfast items which I guess they serve all day. I decided to go with a BLT.

I sat down at the table and tried to control the 2 year old while I read the framed Ferruzza review (pretty glowing). He made a point about You Say Tomato reminding him of what restaurants in KC were like in the 1930's. But I don't think that's right, I could see this place being straight outta the 90's, 1890's that is. Something about it seemed like we should be eating by candlelight. I'm sure I'm remembering it wrong now, but it seemed like the only light in the place was coming from the big windows in the front of the space. Ferruzza also wrote "the kitchen isn't really snappy even on slow days". I can't attest to what it's like on a slow day, but the fact that I committed that quote to memory as I was sitting might be saying something about what it's like on a pretty busy afternoon.

When our food did get to the table it looked pretty great. The bierocks were freshly baked and extremely hot. My BLT looked really good with bacon sticking out in every direction. This is the first time I've ever seen slices of watermelon as a side dish, but each plate had a slice of watermelon. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, this was a welcome development. I get the feeling that whatever they have that's fresh and good will come out as the side dish on any given day. I got my BLT on sourdough, my favorite sandwich bread and it was lightly toasted. I should have ordered it with a lighter application of mayo but I wasn't expecting the amount of mayo it actually had on it. I think there was enough on there for about 5 sandwiches, but I'm not a big fan of mayo so I could be wrong. Each half of the sandwich had 3 thick slices of really ripe and red tomatoes and something like 6 slices of bacon. It's a nice sized sandwich and for $6.95 it should be.

As for taste, the BLT worked. It didn't change my life or anything but I enjoyed it. As I suspected, the mayo was omnipresent. A BLT can only be as good as the tomatoes and these just weren't the best tasting tomatoes around. I think with a little bit of salt they would have been wonderful. Without the salt they were a little bland but plenty juicy. The bacon, as always, was good and even though there was a lot of bacon on it, I found myself wanting more, namely to balance out the mayo a little more.

Stella really enjoyed her bierock, though she noted there were some large cabbage chunks in it that would have been better chopped a little finer. For $6 it was quite a lot of meat and about double the size of a Runza. A better unit of measurement for most people might be the size of a Chipotle burrito, the bierock was about the size of a well filled Chipotle burrito. One of the kids didn't really like her bierock but she ate it anyway. My 2 year old boy absolutely loved it though and he ate a full half of one of the bierocks. Between the 3 kids they ate almost all of 2 bierocks, leaving mostly the bread coating. When we were done eating there was no evidence watermelon has any red in it. If my boy had had his way there would have been no evidence watermelon was a part of the meal.

Going to You Say Tomato is a little like going to your kind of weird aunt's house. The aunt your dad tells you really experienced the 60's, the aunt who's never really had what most people would call a job, the aunt who has a lot of "trinkets" laying around. Her house is full of mismatched furniture and antiques, but the antiques were all picked up at curbside. Inevitably you have a good time at the weird aunt's house because it's just so different from what you're used to but if you stayed there for a week, you'd get a little tired of the place. Now that I've been to You Say Tomato, I'm good for a while, maybe next summer. It's not that there's anything wrong with the place, there's just not much for me. For others, namely those that love the weird aunt's place or are the weird aunt, it may be the bee's knees.


m.v. said...

I actually went for knish supposedly made by the old owner's daughter. It was OK.This place is not very cheap and out of the way for me,so it's way down on my list to go again.

Average Jane said...

I liked the bierocks okay, but homemade are better (albeit a lot of trouble to make). Their yogurt parfaits make a great breakfast - I'm pretty sure they make their own granola.

Erin said...

I actually made about 40 bierocks last night. They are kinda amazing. I'll post the recipe so you can make your own.

Faith said...

I'm looking forward to seeing that post Erin, because maybe then I'll get to find out WTF a bierock is!

kansastock said...

I had the bierocks here and told the Owner it was better than my Granny's. He told me it was HIS German granny's recipe. With a piece of pie, lunch was way over ten bucks. And yep, 45 minute wait has been pretty standard.