Because the boss of the office I work in typically takes out and pays for all of her minions for a Christmas holiday luncheon, I had the opportunity to dine at Kent Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen in Prestonwood Center in Dallas.
In the past, we have eaten at Buca Di Peppo. Buca isn't too bad but it's also not something that I tell people that they have to try. It's always been free when I've gone but I'm not sure I would want to pay for it or it would be an option that I would chose from. My mindset is if I'm going to pay for food and pay more than what I consider a decent price ($8-$10 or less a person), I'm going to go somewhere that is really, REALLY good!
Kent Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen is about the same for me. I'm not going to run out and tell people that they don't want to miss trying this place for lunch or dinner. I don't know if the prices for dinner are more expensive than those at lunch. If they are, I would recommend people staying away from this place and try something else in the same price range. There are plenty of other places that I would compare Rathbun's too and they would win my recommendation hands down.
So anyway, let me describe my experience...
At first glance from the outside, the signage and building look pretty low key—nothing fancy or flashy. It's not in a stand-alone building but more of a strip mall so maybe that's why it's not full of frills and flash. Not a big deal as frills and flash usually are done to help redirect people's attention from some flaw or failure in the business.
Entering the restaurant was kind of interesting as the entrance is a revolving door versus the typical push/pull door. I would have thought this type of door would have provided more of a seal from the outdoor elements but it didn't. I'll probably touch more on this later. The host/hostess stand is right inside the entrance and we (I was with two female coworkers) were greeted by the hostess and someone who looked/acted like the restaurant manager. The manager looked to be carrying a walkie talkie which was somewhat silly since the entire restaurant was similar in size to a standard Applebee's—the open concept and more of a square/rectangular shape overall. I don't what he was carrying exactly as I didn't pay too much attention but it was something I noticed him holding in his hand as he pointed us to our lined tables for the big group. I got the feeling that this place felt they were much cooler or "refined" than they really are.
We get to our seats and got out drink order taken. The appetizers were ordered by the boss and were a variety of items like fried green tomatoes, calamari and some other things that I can't remember what. I don't know if the boss ordered sampler plates but it looked like it as there were probably around six plates with a variety of items.
The waiter made his way around the table taking people's orders and explaining the specials and the food items in general. I went with the special of the day which was a sirloin steak sandwich with sweet potato fries. My good friend and coworker ordered the grilled ahi sliders. The two of us also split the shrimp, crab and lobster "coleslaw" salad.
We got our salad first which is what we asked. I'm not a food critic. I know what I like and I know what I don't like. I was very disappointed. Living in the south and living in Texas, there is a certain kind of coleslaw we are used to. I know that. I am not opposed to trying varieties of a food item. That's what makes eating food so awesome...the many different ways an item can be made and still taste good. Unfortunately, Rathbun's does not know how to make their "coleslaw" taste good. It was a huge bowl for sure and one person would be pretty full after eating the whole bowl. They did split it in two bowls for us. However, it only had six medium sized shrimp (3 per bowl) and I really couldn't tell you how much crab and lobster. It took me a few minutes to figure out that the very finely sliced brown stuff was lobster. It was more like they used the lobster to flavor or garnish than it being part of the actual salad. I can't remember ever finding or tasting the crab. There was about 95% red cabbage, 3% shrimp, 1% thin crispy things (think of long croutons), and 1% lobster/crab. My friend and I both ate all the shrimp given, ate what we could of the lobster and the crispy things. There was a WHOLE LOT of red cabbage left in both of our bowls.
We finally got our entrees. The steak was sliced into four or five medallion-type sizes. On top of those, there was melted cheese (Swiss I think) two or three fried green tomatoes, and then some sauce like a gravy. The bun was very thick on top and bottom. It was all held together with three toothpicks. The sandwich was SO thick that unless you're a reptile and can unhitch your jaw, there was no way anyone could eat this as a sandwich. I had to open it like a philly cheese steak to start but then I just ate the steak as if I sliced it myself. I tried to eat a slice of the fried green tomatoes with each steak piece to add some taste to them. When all was said and done, the bread/bun was left from the sandwich. The sweet potato fries were so dang salty that I think they should have been called salt with a slight hint of sweet potato flavoring.
For the grilled ahi sliders, my friend and coworker almost ate them the same as I with the steak sandwich. She ate one with the bun/bread and another she just ate the ahi out of the slider. The third one she gave to me and I ate it with just the bottom half of the bun. What I remember about the ahi is that it was a bit over peppered.
On to dessert. It was a variety of options like the appetizers. I think the boss had them bring out some of everything from the dessert menu. You can do chocolate cake, cheesecake or bread pudding wrong.
Overall, knowing what I know now, I would have gone straight for dessert at Rathbun's. However, I'd much rather have a good and tasty entree than a dessert so I wouldn't go to Rathbun's in the first place. For the pricey PRICEY items on the menu, I truly expected better than I experienced.