Before the show | Rock Candy

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Before the show

Posted By on Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 8:35 AM

BURGER TIME:  Sliders and such at Plaza Grill
  • BURGER TIME: Sliders and such at Plaza Grill
When I go to concerts, I prefer the comfortable ambiance of Robinson Center Music Hall to that of Verizon Arena, hands down. It’s more intimate to me, and the acoustics are far better in my honest opinion.

The downside is if you’re going to a weekday night concert and your date doesn’t get off work until after 6pm, it’s a scramble to get down to the area and have dinner before the show. Most of the area restaurants are clustered from the Peabody and Capital Hotels down to and through the River Market. If you’re wearing heels and aren’t used to them, that’s a bit of a walk.

This sort of reasoning led us to a place we hadn’t been in a decade, the restaurant in the Doubletree Hotel. It’s now known as the Plaza Grill.

Back during the 2000 ice storm, I ended up staying there so I could be close to work. The hubster was at the (then) Excelsior — and the only restaurant open within walking distance those three days was said restaurant at the Doubletree Hotel. I remember it as being a very reasonable priced buffet.

We found ourselves there recently for the John Prine concert… and because of his job, we were in that situation. Eschewing the ease (and potential mess) of a drive-thru along the way, we parked under the hotel and went in to see what Plaza Grill had to offer.

The two of us were seated at a small bench-side table and given our drinks. Others attending the concert (we’re assuming, of course) were already there and consuming their dinners for the evening. What sort of food goes well with John Prine? We looked over the menu, full of ideas like the 18 ounce Bonus Angus Rib, a small plates menu that included Delta Catfish and Fried Green Tomatoes and a nice selection of salads and realized, if you’re going to listen to raw, honest lyrics you need something honest (but not quite raw). So we went for burgers.

Plaza_Grill_Blue_Cheese_Burger.jpg
The hubster chose the Blackened Blue Burger ($8.25). Listed as being a Fresh Ground Hand Formed Angus Beef Patty, he ordered it cooked to order medium rare. And the burger itself was cooked perfectly, the right shade of pinkish-red in the center and a nice crust to the meat. What was alarming was the amount of Cajun seasoning liberally applied to the burger. We’d guess more than a tablespoon was poured over the top of the Feta cheese on top of the patty, and there was no good way to remove it. He said the burger was very good, but the spice was overpowering. I can’t imagine why….

Slider_Plate.jpg
I was a little more indecisive and chose three of the Southern Sliders, mini-burgers that came either separately or three for $3.95. I chose two of the cheeseburgers — one with Cheddar, one with Pepper Jack — and the Southern Fried Chicken slider (BBQ pulled pork is also available). I was surprised that all the toppings came shredded on the side — because of their size, it was hard to keep said toppings on the sliders, and I ended up giving up on the operation. The chicken disappointed me a bit, just because I was expecting something called Southern Fried to have a nice crust of breading to it. But our waitress had given the option of having the little burgers cooked to order — and though I was skeptical that a three ounce patty could actually manage to be properly cooked to medium rare I was wrong. Both of the little burgers were cooked perfectly, which to me was a feat.

We passed on dessert, though I noted that there’s a Bourbon Spiked Bread Pudding on the menu as well as the Doubletree Banana Pudding.

I suppose next time I’m in the area at lunch I’ll have to stop by and see if that lunch buffet’s as good as it used to be. I did overhear our waitress tell another table that there’s usually a buffet available at dinner as well — just not that night because of the concert. It might have been a better option if available, because then we could have eaten and left a lot quicker. It’s all right — we got to the concert on time.

If you want to give Plaza Grill a shot, it’s located in the Doubletree Hotel right next to Robinson Center Music Hall. (501) 372-4311. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

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