Sunday, June 5, 2011

Downtown Dining Week Review No. 1: Molly Cool's

Milwaukee's Downtown Dining Week is one of my favorite times of the year. It's the time to visit places you've never been and to experience great food for a reasonable price. I love checking out new places--and even ones I've been--during this week. While some of the menus can be limited, there always seems to be something for everyone. Lucky for me, too, I work downtown so I can check out a few restaurants for lunches throughout that week.

My first 2011 Downtown Dining experience was last Friday, when my work department went out for a coworker's birthday. The birthday girl picked Molly Cool's on Old World Third Street. Our group had been once before--for a happy hour, with two-for-one drinks and half-priced appetizers--and our experience and food had been good.

Unfortunately, that wasn't quite the same experience we had last Friday. There were some ups and downs to the meal, but the downs are the ones that tend to stick out.

Five out of the six of us in our group opted for the Downtown Dining menu. We all had slightly different combinations, but among the five of us, we sampled everything. Here, in a nutshell, is how my food was:

For the appetizer, I ordered the crab cake, which was really good--not a lot of filler and a great, fresh crab taste with a reddish remoulade sauce. It also came with a small cup of coleslaw which was just OK--nothing special.

For the main course, I ordered the 1/2 a crab wrap with the seafood chowder and sweet Maui-onion potato chips. The wrap was just OK--it wasn't as flavorful as I had hoped and thought it would be. The chowder, however, was good, although I'm not sure what was all in it.

For the dessert course, I ordered the key lime pie, which I was really excited about. Just before bringing dessert, the server informed us that they had run out of key lime pie, which three of us ordered. This kind of surprised me, as we put in our order at about noon (or a bit before) on the second day of Downtown Dining. I can kind of understand if it's near the end of the week, but the second day? So instead I ordered chocolate mousse, which came in a wonton cup on top of whipped cream. The cream was good, the mousse was OK and I didn't care for the wonton cup (too greasy and not much flavor).

Service was fine until we got to the end of the meal and received our bill. Two people in our group ordered entree salads (one ordered the Caesar and the other the mixed greens). Both asked if anything with it (a type of protein) and the server said you can add shrimp, salad or chicken--so one ordered chicken and another salmon. Turns out, there was quite an extra charge for the protein: $5 for chicken and $9 for the salmon, which the server never specified.

I think we all understand extra charges and both the people in my group who had the salads said they understood, but when you order off a fixed price menu, it seems like it should be a given that add-ons like that are included--or at the very least the server should say something, especially if the add-on is almost the same price as the entire meal. Long story short, the manager came out and explained the situation (in a rather terse way) and took a few bucks off the bill. Eh. Personally, I just can't understand how a Caesar salad (no meat) or mixed green salad (no meat) can be offered alongside of a crab wrap and seafood soup or walleye fingers--it just doesn't add up.

All in all, it wasn't the greatest experience, and I can't say I'll rush back any time soon. I'm by no means an expert, but I think restaurants that participate in Downtown Dining Week really need to get these meals right and provide a good experience for guests so that they come back and order off regular menus throughout the rest of the year.

1 comment:

  1. What a shame. I went to Molly Cool's last year for lunch on a weekend and it was fabulous (keep in mind we were also there for almost 2 hours w/ drinks and they had different/better menu options). I'd be supper bummed about the mousse (because i've had the key lime pie, which is more like a cheesecake, and it was wonderful). Hopefully you'll get to try some better places!