Doodles BBQ Bistro
Well, I always try to be positive. When I started blogging about restaurants, I told myself that I didn’t want to be Debbie Downer. Well I hate to say it sometimes it is hard. I try to be reasonable, keeping everything in context, the menu prices, the reputation, the surroundings, etc. For example, you could expect a certain quality of food at Hardee’s and another quality at Ruth Chris. Now that being said, let’s talk about Doodle’s BBQ Bistro.
We saw this location they moved into for a few years. There sits a small shopping center, a little too far from most activity, it remained empty for some time. Recently a workout place moved in, did some remodeling, and moved out. We were surprised to see a BBQ restaurant pop in here. Seems like a tough place to do business, but heck, they look really nice, I love the logo, and the smoke signals coming from what has got to be Knoxville’s largest smoker really smelled tempting. If you have great food and service, they will come, right?
We went on a Monday night, about 6:30. Walked in from the cold and were promptly greeted. They gave us a table, and said our server would be with us shortly. The place itself is well decorated. Better than the average for a small BBQ place. It was clean and inviting. Soon after sitting, sure enough, a friendly waitress came over, introduced herself, and got us some beverages. She was friendly, helpful, and efficient. She took our appetizer order, and entree order. She only did two things I don’t like. She offered the bill before we were done eating, after offering the bill offered a dessert (All of this is done when we are finished eating, not while we are eating) and when asked about some items she often said she had not tried it, but heard it was good. Come on people! You opened a few weeks ago, did you not cook everything and train your staff? Even if perhaps this server was just hired, they should LIE! If asked about something, the reply is “Oh yeah, that is an awesome dish, you will really like it”. Anyways, let’s continue.
We started with the Pork BBQ Pizza ($8.00) It came out in a timely manner, but did not meet expectations. It was just hot enough to make the cheese ontop melt. Upon investigation, it was obvious that the dough is not made there. That’s ok, the problem is that it isn’t even baked there. It was like a pita bread with some toppings barely melted. Would have been better if it was cooked longer, allowing the bottom to toast a little, and make it hot. Food in restaurants should be served HOT, not warm. I will say the BBQ sauce is excellent. We put more on the pizza for each bite.
The entrees. My wife ordered the Pulled Chicken Sandwich ($8.50)with Sweet potato fries. Well, it turns out they aren’t making the fries, although they are on the menu. Apparently they were baking them, and since it takes too long to bake them, they have ordered a fryer. They are waiting for the fryer to come in. That is crazy. So I guess french fries weren’t an option either. Have you ever heard of baked french fries in a restaurant? She opted for the Loaded Potato Salad, which turns out to be very good. The sandwich itself was very light on the chicken, cold, the bun not toasted, it was just disappointing.
For my entree I chose the smoked burger with cheese ($8.25). Never heard of a smoked burger before and I do like fresh burgers, so let’s give it a try. On the menu it clearly states “Cooked Medium” Perfect! I go for medium rare to medium, so that will work nicely. The burger came out, being consistent with the previous dish on a cold, hard, un-toasted bun. The burger itself was dry, cold, WELL DONE, and actually had a thick crust on the outside. Holy cow. I cannot remember the last time I sent something back and asked for a replacement, but I was not going to eat this piece of leather. I asked the server, and she was happy to get us another. Just a minute later, what appeared to be a manager or owner came over. She came over and asked if something was wrong. I politely said the burger was dry and over cooked and asked for a replacement. In my 30-ish short years of life, I rarely have met a less friendly, and unconcerned manager in my life. She quickly told me that would be atleast 15 minutes for a new one, or I could order something else. She made excuse after excuse as to why they were dry an over cooked. Hint: I don’t care why, just make a new one. It seemed like she did not want me to order a new one, and I felt like a big inconvenience to her. I asked to see a menu and she walked to go get one. While she was away, my wife and I decided we would not order anything else, and instead finish hers and leave. We have never felt so un-welcomed in our lives. She returned with the menu and just as I was going to say I don’t want to order anything to replace it, a gentleman appeared from the kitchen, apologized for the over cooked burger (He made some excuses too, excuses are unnecessary people! Just agree and recover, fix the problem. It’s all about the recovery.) But he was actually a little friendly. He said he had one almost ready and it would be right out. It soon came out, it too was well done, but at least it wasn’t sitting in a hot box for hours. It had nice flavor and was actually a little juicy. There is something strange about the consistency of their beef though. Maybe it’s the smoker, but I don’t think so. Now the average Joe reading this might think I am crazy, but hamburgers should be around 20% fat. That’s what makes them so juicy and flavorful. I think they are using a very lean beef or something, for it just wasn’t that good. My side of macaroni and cheese was good.
So here is a list, if the people at Doodles BBQ Bistro read it, some of my suggestions that could help them improve….
- Don’t have items on the menu that you cannot execute. (Baked Fries)
- Have managers that don’t make excuses, rather solve problems. And have them take some smile classes.
- TOAST YOUR BUNS! McDonald’s does it, Hardee’s does it, and they don’t cost as much as you.
- If you serve food in a nice looking restaurant that you obviously spent money to build, don’t serve food in little styrofoam bowls and cups. The plastic plates you have are cheap too. Get some melamine dishes or something nicer.
- Stop smoking your burgers. Cook them on the grill. That way you can cook them fresh to order. When you tell someone you smoke them in the morning and then hold them in the hot box, that is not very appetizing, and you guessed it, makes for a crummy burger.
- The bell ringing in the kitchen when food is ready was annoying. You aren’t serving food on a San Francisco trolly, and if a cook is too lazy to run food, then find a new cooks.
- I know chicken costs about 1.50 per lb. Don’t give me 4 ounces of it for 8 bucks. Pile it high! Your not saving any money if the guest doesn’t come back.
- Look into the ground beef your using. There is something weird about it.
- Expand your menu. It’s tiny. Make some nice fresh chicken tenders or something. You already have the chicken and fries. How about something other than chicken, pork, ribs, and burgers. Well I guess you do have bologna.
- It is really tacky requiring someone to “Like” your Facebook page to view your menu. And even after you like the page, the menu is so small you cannot even read it.
Well, so much for positive reviews. I really think that everything can be fixed, but it starts with management. They can take these suggestions and say I am wrong, and continue to look at their business wearing blinders, or they can be honest with what they have going and make it really great. Right now Buddy’s has this place beat hands down, and I’m not even a Buddy’s BBQ fan. I feel like Doodles BBQ Bistro was opened by a BBQ expert, that knows what he is doing with the ribs etc., has no restaurant experience. I truly wish them luck, and hope they can improve. Better to hear the bad review now, then to scare alot of first time guests away to never return again. Then again, maybe it was just our meal that was not good. It could have been a fluke I suppose.