Lunch today was with my wife and her sister. I’ve been to the Grotto before for lunch and liked it so wanted to go back to be able to write about it. The Grotto is located in a strip center just South of Battlefield Street on South Kimbrough. The Grotto is one of those places where you order at the counter, they give you a vibrating/flashing coaster and you find a place to sit while your food comes up to the pickup counter. You also get your own drinks which means its my fault if my diet coke glass stays empty too long.
I ordered the Mexicali Chicken sandwich with chips ($7.99) and a individual four cheese thin crust pizza ($4.09) along with my standard diet coke ($1.69). My wife got a bowl of tomato bisque soup and she liked it very much saying that it had a good fresh flavor.
The chicken in my sandwich was grilled and was moist, it came topped with a avocado ranch sauce, pepper-jack cheese and grilled onions – a tomato slice and lettuce leaf was on the side. It was a fairly good grilled chicken sandwich – but not a very good “Mexicali” sandwich. I didn’t get any hint of spiciness from the pepper-jack cheese and the avocado ranch dressing was kinda ho-hum - no detectable avocado flavor - it really needed something to give it some “Mexicali” flavor. On a previous visit I had a burger and thought it was very good.
I chose the fresh made ‘House Chips” as the side for my sandwich and it was a very good choice. They were crispy and came with a sprinkling of Italian herbs – they were very tasty. The only thing I could compare them to would be the frisps at Longhorn Grill (which I like a lot) – but these had a lighter texture.
I was torn on the pizza – Danny had talked it up on one of his last visits, so my expectations were high. The sauce was very good, lots of good flavor. The cheese was good as well. The crust however was not very exciting to me. Since this was the ‘thin crust’ pizza, I was expecting something nice and crispy – and didn’t get it. The only crispy part of the pizza was just around the edges, the middle – while not soggy – was just soft. It tasted ok – but it would have been much better if it had been crispy throughout. Overall this pizza is a step up from your chain places (Pizza Hut, etc…) but it does not dethrone my current favorite pizza – that being Angeli in Ozark.
My sister-in-law had a soup and salad combo – and she promised to comment on that.
This is a pretty popular place for lunch so as we arrived today, I glanced into the dining room and noticed that while the booths were all full, there were several tables available. However, after we got done standing around, looking at the menus, and then ordering – all of the tables were taken – so there was no place for us to go. Some of the regulars obviously went to get their table as soon as they arrived – then they went to order.
Since we were the only ones waiting to sit and it looked there were some tables that looked to be getting close to finishing, I didn’t think it waiting for a table would be too big of a deal. However, my coaster went off quickly with my wife’s soup getting put up on the pickup counter. I told the person at the counter that we didn’t have a place to sit yet. She looked at me kinda funny when I said that. I probably should have asked at that point to please have the soup ready with the rest of our food, but wasn’t thinking that fast. I repeated that we didn’t have a place to sit so didn’t want the soup yet and she suggested that we sit a small table setup by the front counter (looks like a place to sit and wait for to-go orders). I told her I didn’t want to sit our front and then she asked if I wanted it to-go. I said no! So she picked up the soup and took it back to the kitchen without saying anything else – she seemed upset with me about that exchange but I didn’t know what else to do at that point.
After another few minutes of waiting around, a group left and we sat down at a booth – someone came right over to clean up the table and apologized for our wait. I’m really glad that there weren’t any other groups of people waiting for a table. There isn’t a good place to camp out or queue up with a good view of the dining room situation while keeping your place in line to sit. There didn’t seem to be any plan for what to do if the dining room is full with people having ordered their food and but still waiting for a table.
Since the food comes out the kitchen quickly even when they are busy – this could be a frequent problem during their busy times. I can imagine waiting for a table with other groups that include those “Type A” personalities who would probably ignore any informal queue of patrons – and barge in to grab a table out of turn – that would make me very unhappy.
My advice – grab a table before you order so you don’t end up with food and no place to eat it.
3046 S Kimbrough Ave – (417) 886-9600