Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gauchos, Jerry B's and Arthur's shares space.

THREE IN ONE:  Gauchos moves in, shares space
  • THREE IN ONE: Gaucho's moves in, shares space
Had an interesting lunch yesterday. I was heading out to Koto on Chenal Parkway, but discovered it’s closed for renovation. So I headed further out to Rahling Road.
FIESTA BURGER:  A pile of toppings
First thing I noticed was that Gaucho’s had moved downstairs and over a building to the space that had been occupied by Jerry B’s, next door to Arthur’s Prime Steakhouse. I knew it was a smaller space, and I was surprised that the city’s only churrascaria has been shrunk down. The OPEN signs were on and I was hungry, so I decided to go in and find out what was going on.
But while I did go under the Gaucho’s sign, I didn’t get to eat Gaucho’s for lunch. That’s because there’s a little identity crisis going on in the house that Jerry Barakat built.
Inside the doors, there’s still the lush dark hardwoods and red leathers of Jerry B’s. That’s what it says on the menu and the name the waiters call the place when you walk in. So what’s the deal?
It’s a case of space-sharing. Been seeing this more often lately — Lilly’s Dim Sum Then Some and B-Side are another example. One restaurant that specializes in one meal shares space with another restaurant that does a later meal. Economically it makes good sense.
There seems to be little sense, though, to the menu at Jerry B’s. There are a selection of sandwiches and burgers, some deluxe salads, and then three Chinese inspired dishes and some pasta. It’s a business lunch concept that covers the spectrum, and the selections cover the spectrum of restaurants that Barakat has operated over the years, such as Sesame's and Tico's.
While I was tempted by the Mongolian Beef and the Signature Chicken Salad, I settled on the Fiesta Burger ($6.50) because frankly I was in a burger sort of mood. The overhead was playing 90s pop tunes and the crowd was a mix of business suits and tech workers that I assumed worked out at The Ranch on Highway 10, but who can tell? The tea was strong and the sky outside was growing grayer by the moment.
My burger arrived. It was a hodge-podge of all sorts of toppings — a white cheese melted directly onto the patty, grilled onions, roasted yellow and red bell pepper strips, cold avocado slices, purple onion slices, tomato, hamburger dills and green leaf lettuce. The bun was warm but not really toasted. The fries were shoestring with a little seasoning, and the plate was served up with mayonnaise and ketchup.
There’s a certain unspoken rule of thumb about how many different sorts of ingredients you put on a burger. Usually you keep things in the same family — peppers with onions or mushrooms, avocado with bean sprouts or black olives, that sort of thing. These items should not work well together. But they did here. The avocado provided the binder the burger was needing between its hot ingredients and its cold ones. Even the pickles worked.
Still, “fiesta” seemed like it should have a Mexican influence to me, and this didn’t. But that was okay.
A couple at the next booth had ordered the white queso (you can also have yellow) and the bowl was big, a good eight to ten ounces of dip with a big basket of really thin chips. It’s $5 and definitely something to share with someone else.
So I stopped the waiter before I went and asked about the space. He says yes, the whole Gaucho’s red/green cards and meat-on-a-stick thing was happening still in the evenings, and that Arthur’s was still doing its thing next door (there’s a doorway between the two similar spaces). Arthur’s is also serving dinner on Sunday’s now.
Maybe it’s a sign of the economy. Think about it — three years ago Gaucho’s was closer in town on Shackleford Drive, then it moved back to its original home and there was Rockston’s. Like a reverse Big Bang, everything’s shrinking back to what’s essentially one Rahling Road property.
Do any of the businesses deserve to survive? Well, yeah. While I haven’t enjoyed a dinner at Arthur’s (frankly, it’s out of my price range), Gaucho’s is my husband’s favorite celebration restaurant. And Jerry B’s? Here’s the thing. You order a salad, sandwich or entrĂ©e at the place and your iced tea or soft drink is included in the price. My ticket came to $7.12 with tax for lunch — a lot cheaper than a lot of lunch places I have visited for what was essentially an upscale half pound burger and some really decent fries. I happily handed over $10 for the good service and for the fact I might have accidentally flashed the waiter — that’s a long story I don’t have time to get into now.
Location is going to be an issue — while the three restaurants share space right across from The Promenade at Chenal, there’s not much signage on Chenal to direct people that way. Maybe it’s also an advertising issue.
Or perhaps the whole upscale idea is just tanking while people try to save their bucks. Who knows.
Anyway, Jerry B’s is worth checking out for lunch. I think next time I’m going to give one of their massive salads a try. The ones I saw coming from the kitchen looked excellent. The lunch menu runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
You’ll find Jerry B’s, Gaucho’s and Arthur’s Prime Steakhouse on Rahling Road right off of Chenal Parkway. They’re all located at #27, all facing the road now. Worth a shot. (501) 821-1828 or check out the Arthur’s website.

1 comment:

Be kind.