Although they have “brewing” in their name, there’s no actual beer being made here at Martin City Brewing. That’s not to say that they won’t eventually, as are part of the master plans that I’ve heard of, but prepare to be deceived for a few years by the name… assuming it’s still in business in a few years.
Let me start by saying that I thought the food was great. Not just good, but great. Not amazing, but great. I really wanted to explore their menu and possibly get something tasty, like the chicken burger, but they crossed it out… I guess after being open for only a week they either ran out of ingredients or people hated it. I’m assuming the prior. They had 4-5 items crossed out, so they’re probably still tweaking their menu.
Our group started out by looking over the beer menu. I expected it to be much larger considering the restaurants name, but I wasn’t entirely disappointed either. I was glad to see a handful of the local favorites on tap, as well as some not-so-common handles. The prices didn’t seem too off, but could have been $.50-1.00 cheaper per pint. The Boulevard seasonal was listed at $7, which had I seen before I ordered I probably would have avoided, but I knew it was Two Jokers, so I had to get it… I didn’t look all that closely, but I think when I paid by bill at the end, it might have only been $6.50 for the pint, which isn’t bad for something normally served in a tulip.
Now let’s get back to the food… because that was the best part… which really felt like the only good part. Considering the location and size of the restaurant, I expected things to cost a little less than they did. We started with the Fried Risotto Balls, which were amazing. Plated with 6 balls total, you get enough for a small group, but with a price of $8, you’d expect a little something more. Like I said, they were quite delicious, but not $1.33 per ball delicious. $6 for 6 would be ok, or maybe even ‘wow’ me for $5. I would order them again for $5-6, but not $8, that’s ridiculous for the quantity.
We ordered a variety of items off the menu for the main meal… a couple of burgers, the beef n blue sandwich, the roasted pork sandwich and the brisket sandwich. I only tried the last two, so I can’t comment too much on the first items, but my friends said they were good. The waiter told us they were mind-blowingly good, but everyone disagreed with that statement. KC has a tough burger crowd, so if they said they were good, I’m taking their word for it. The beef n blue was quoted as being decent, but she was really turned off by the lackluster salad that she had to pay a $2 up-charge on instead of getting the fries. It’s a side salad folks, not a salad and fries… $2 for a pile of lettuce will keep people from coming back.
Now, here’s where things turn from ‘ok’ to ‘great’… the pork and the brisket. I couldn’t decide between the two, so I talked my friend into ordering the opposite of me and sharing. The pork was soft and tender. I’ve never had sauteed spinach with pulled pork before… but then again, I had never had pulled pork without BBQ sauce before either. The sandwich was excellent and very flavorful. It alone would make me consider going back again. The brisket, although oddly named that, was also excellent. The sandwich would be better titled “pot roast” or “shredded roast beef” because there is nothing about the meat that makes you think of brisket. If you’re going to name something brisket and serve it in KC, it better be smoked and served with some BBQ sauce. Instead, it was served with an egg. A nice touch, but not what I expected. I would order either sandwich if I return…
(Brisket upfront and pork in the back)
Ok, so this is where the ‘good’ went from being ‘great’ into ‘I don’t know that I’ll come back again’. As a new restaurant, I like the idea of using cool apps and technology in your restaurant, but my God man, pen and paper! PEN AND PAPER! The servers each carry an iPod Touch that they have to manually select which table you’re at, which seat you’re sitting in at the table, select your food item, what toppings you want, or don’t want, type in special instructions and then send it back to the kitchen… they do this with every person sitting at the table, and then go back and reread it to you. It was the slowest ordering experience I’ve ever had. I get the idea of it being instant, but if you write it down, you can then go away and punch it into the computer instead of hovering over my table for 12 minutes typing in orders.Oh, but it doesn’t end there… if you’re paying with a debit or credit card, they run your card on the iPod and ask you to sign with your finger. Great idea, but if they don’t tell you that you can input a tip, they still have to bring you a paper receipt from across the building for you to add a tip to and then resign in ink. Seems like flawed process… once again, it’s a cool gadget, but if you’ll just walk away from our table for a few minutes, you can run the cards and return with the receipts instead of us all sitting there watching the staff work for 7 minutes instead of letting us continue with our conversation while you print everything.
And that brings me to negative point number two… the service is super slow. I’m going to blame it on new employees at a new place trying to figure out a new system, but man, thank goodness none of us had to be anywhere in a hurry. Everything about our meal took forever… but, they’ve only been open for less than a week, so I’ll cut them some slack.
In closing, the place is small, there’s very little decor other than a few flat screens and creative dining tables, smelled like fry oil, which in turn makes YOU smell like fry oil, but at least the food was good.
I wish them well and hope they’ll stay open and be successful, because I want more brewpubs in town (which this really isn’t a brewpub until they start brewing). I’ll also probably go back, but not anytime soon… they’ve got some kinks to work out before I come back and spend $30 for lunch!