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The American Restaurant

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The American Restaurant is one of Kansas City's better restaurants. Unfortunately, my wife and I caught them on what is, to say the least, an off night. Our letter to them is in the extended article (click "read more"):

November 22, 2005

Solomon Melesse

The American Restaurant

200 E. 25th Street, Suite 400

Kansas City, MO 64108

Mr. Melesse:

My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary at your restaurant last night and we were hoping to make it an annual tradition, but after the experience we had, we’ve changed our mind. However, I thought you would like to know about the things we experienced.

I made the reservation with Hillary and told her that it was our first anniversary. We specifically made it for a weeknight since we thought we would received better service. And, Hillary told me that only two other couples had made reservations by the time I called so my husband and I had high hopes for an exquisite dining experience.

Here’s the chronology of what we experienced on November 21 starting at 7 PM:

Our valet parking experience was good, but when we got to the restaurant, we saw a coat check room (unattended) and couldn’t figure out how to get into it. The hostess finally saw us and told us to leave the coat on the chair and she would get it. We were then seated.

The water lady (who also ended up serving the bread and clearing the dishes) needs to speak up and enunciate. She said something while pouring our water and I had to ask her what it was. All she had said was that our server would be along shortly. When she served me the bread later on, I had to ask her to repeat what she said. I have excellent hearing (as does my husband), but we could not understand her mumbled statements.

The wine list was presented to my husband and he chose a bottle of wine. The sommelier proceeded to say that she was in training while struggling with the broken cork (although she had been there a year and a half per what she said later on). The broken cork was a turn off and the wine was bitter. I’ve seen broken, disintegrated corks at other restaurants and the sommelier immediately replaces the bottle before even serving it to the guest. However, my husband was asked to taste the wine and then sent it back. The waitress told him later that she tasted the wine and she also thought it was bitter. He ordered another bottle of wine and it was fine. But, the whole cork incident was a bit unsettling since I’ve had other restaurants immediately bring out a new bottle when that happens.

We were then handed our dinner menus and they said “Happy Anniversary David and Linda”. We don’t know who David and Linda are, but those are not our names. We weren’t sure we were supposed to order from the items on David and Linda’s menu, but our waitress assured us it was the same menu that everyone else got and she did apologize profusely for the mix up. Hmmmm…

My husband is on a very low carb diet and told the waitress this and she did an excellent job of steering him to the right choices and even had the chef prepare his scallops without the breading and the escobar without the breading (and they were both delicious). However, she gave him the amuse-bouche of Camembert and the gingerbread with the fig feeling. He ate the Camembert but not the gingerbread. She even came back later and said “I should have just given you the cheese”. Her effort was there, but her execution was sub-par at times.

Our first courses came and my husband ate his scallops faster than I ate my soup. While my hand was still on a piece of bread mopping up the soup in my bowl (I realize this is bad manners, but the soup was excellent and I wanted to eat it all), the water lady/bread lady/dish clearer lady started to take my bowl away while mumbling something. I turned around and looked at her and asked her what she said and she then asked me if I was done. While my hand was still in my bowl, I said “no” and continued to eat the rest of my soup for a few more minutes. I was astounded that while I was actively eating, she thought I was done!

Dinner was served and when my sweet potato puree side dish was brought out, the server noted that she forgot the serving spoon. About 10 minutes later, we waved down another server and requested a spoon and also explained that we were not pleased with the service we were receiving. An older woman visited our table and asked how things were and after explaining some of these things to her, she apologized and offered a complimentary dessert.

The dessert menu was presented and nothing really appealed to me (and of course my husband wasn’t going to order anything due to his low carb diet) but I did see ice cream and I asked the server for the flavors that they had. She said that she had coconut ice cream and since I saw that one of the desserts came with pineapple sorbet, I asked if I could have a scoop of pineapple sorbet and a scoop of coconut ice cream. She then brought out two scoops of coconut ice cream and a scoop of banana sorbet and explained that there was no pineapple sorbet event though it was on the menu. I detest bananas (and this brown puree was very unpleasant to look at) and after one bite of the gummy coconut ice cream, I was done.

Also, our server knew that I did not drink or like alcohol of any kind (which was one reason why many of the desserts didn’t appeal to me) and that I would only be drinking water with my meal. However, my water glass was empty for significant periods of time on three occasions. Either the glass needs to be larger, the bottle left on the table or the water lady needs to be more attentive. I had to wave my glass in the air at one point to get anyone’s attention to the situation.

When two liqueur filled chocolates were brought at the end of the meal, I realized that the server really hadn’t been listening at all. My husband, on his low carb diet, would not eat them and neither would I since I despise alcohol. It would have been better for her to ask if we wanted them and we would have said “no” and then they wouldn't have been wasted at our table.

On a positive note, my husband’s escobar was excellent as were his scallops. My beets with blue cheese were also very tasty and the amuse-bouche of the gingerbread with fig filling should be on the dessert menu since it was outstanding.

Any of these items on its own wouldn’t have made for a subpar evening, but when so many things happened at what we thought was Kansas City’s destination restaurant, we were very disappointed. And, getting menus that were personalized for another couple rather than commemorating OUR anniversary seemed to be a slap in the face and I blame Hillary for this.

As I stated at the beginning of this letter, we were hoping to make this an annual occasion, but we will probably try another one of Kansas City’s upscale restaurants next year but we still look forward to hearing from you regarding these issues.