Thursday, August 22, 2013

Worst restaurant in a while

There are good restaurants and bad restaurants.  The problem is that most of the time, the bad restaurants get by unnoticed.  Did you ever wonder how there can be so many bad restaurants on shows like Restaurant Impossible?  Last month, I went down to the Ozarks and while coming back from a day at Miner Mike's, my kids wanted something other than BBQ for lunch.  So, as we are nearing the intersection of 54, we came to a small strip mall with a nice looking place called Shell's Pasta Emporium.  We parked out front and went inside.

The first thing that could be noticed was the color.  The walls were painted this ugly dirty yellow color and there were stenciled phrases and sayings on the wall which had nothing to do with pasta or food.

"Laughter sparkles like sunshine." Really?  On one wall of the restaurant, there are at least 6 or 7 sayings which makes me think that someone just took every saying they could find in one of those inspirational books and re-wrote them on the wall.

The food is prepped behind a bar area and there is every possible kind of fake plant or flower in the area.  There are fake potted plants, fake flowers all over and even fake ivy stuck behind the bar, on the wall, near the ceiling.  You can also see the whole service area, where you can see two microwaves, a shelf where all of the soda syrup boxes are as well as the prepping area.  Note: I did not see any pasta machines, bowls or even flour, but we will get to that later.

 The place was very sparse and the only staff consisted of two people, presumably Shell and her son, a child less than 10 years old.  So, it was this child, who brought our table silverware, explained how the ordering went and then took our orders and delivered our drinks.  Shell, stayed behind the counter.  I should have looked around the restaurant first before ordering because there wasn't a single award on their pasta, they had one on 'best new pasta restaurant concept' and one for 'best traditional pizza', but none on the quality of their pasta. The way that you ordered, was by taking this slip of paper, filled with options on your meal, checking the boxes with your pencil, and then giving them to the child so he could give them to Shell.  So, one of the things we ordered was some pasta, since they are called "pasta emporium", I figured that I should try their pasta.

I marked the box for Bow Tie noodles, at $5.99 and then added a simple sauce of garlic and olive oil at no cost.  Then, I was really hungry and added some sliced, seasoned, spicy, baked chicken for an additional cost of $2.99.  So, we are looking at my meal alone, at costing $8.98; before taxes.  It doesn't sound like that much, for pasta, but what I received a few minutes later, was not worth more than $1.00.

This is what was delivered, to me about 5 minutes after I had ordered it.  I watched the woman behind the counter work, expecting to see a show of making fresh pasta.  I was expecting to see her mix flour and eggs together, make a dough, and start turning it through a pasta machine, rolling it thinner and thinner each time.  Then, finally taking that ribbon and slicing it into squares and bunching them at the center to create bows.  I wanted to see someone do this from scratch.  The problem is: at this place, even though it has the words "pasta emporium" in the name, they do not make their own pasta.  Now, I guess it was my fault, because while on their website ( and menu, even though it says that they offer "Mouth watering Italian pastas" and they state that they offer "authentic homemade Italian food", they never actually state that the pastas are authentic or homemade.  So, I guess that is my fault for reading too much into this.

I would bet $100 that the pasta was from a box.  It had no taste of egg or flour, so I know it wasn't homemade.  It definitely wasn't authentic either.  We watched the woman make the chicken, which meant that we watched her take something from the freezer, place it on a dish and into the microwave for 2 minutes and then onto my pasta.  She delivered it to me like she was the proudest person ever for making some great pasta and chicken.  Really?  You thawed out pre-cooked and seasoned chicken and placed it over my store bought dried and boiled pasta and you call this a restaurant???

I thought this place was a joke, until you look at their Facebook page and it appears that this restaurant stays in business by cooking store bought and boxed pasta and then adding microwaved items to it, while charging a huge amount.  They even have a bunch of photos of them celebrating their grand opening.

I have tried to contact the restaurant and ask for clarification as to why they say they make homemade and authentic pasta and then it is neither homemade or authentic and I had no response.  Here is my thoughts:  If you want to eat there and help support a local restaurant owner with her restaurant, go ahead.  If you want to feel as though you get some sort of edible food for your money, I suggest finding something else to eat. Or you could also go to Paul's and get your own box of pasta and store bought frozen chicken.

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