Sep 5, 2010

Stick with the Hot Dogs

Restaurant: Rock-n-Moroccan
Location: 1710 W. 39th St., KC MO
Food: Moroccan, deli sandwiches, hot dogs, smoothies, crepes
Service: slow, standoff-ish
Atmosphere: Walk-up window. Haven't tried inside dining room yet
Price: Cheap
One napkin

I hate writing bad reviews of places where I think the chefs and owners mean well. But here it comes.

My initial review of Rock-n-Moroccan was for their Chicago Dog. I had no idea this walk-up window was, indeed, a Moroccan restaurant. So Saturday I went back to sample from the other categories on the menu and provide a full assessment. I kinda wish I hadn't.

Right out of the gate, things were... off. The gang of three just ahead of us ordered two smoothies, a Moroccan salad and a Nutella crepe. No joke, it took a good 20 minutes to fulfill this order. All-the-while, we were standing at the window being ignored, though it became clear a little later that the employees had seen me but thought I was one of the guys who had ordered before us (probably due to similar sun glasses - just speculation).

...And apparently they screwed up two of the three items ordered. The salad was supposed to come with beets, and didn't, and the Nutella crepe came sans Nutella. Both issues were remedied in a friendly nature by the staff, but getting two out of three orders wrong at a place with a fairly simple menu is a pretty poor showing.

That fiasco behind us, I decided to hit three different sections of the menu to round out my Rock-N experience, ordering a turkey club sandwich, the Moroccan tabouli and a chicken gyro (in a pita--customers choose pita or crepe).

Issue #1: no tabouli. What, the throngs of fans lining up around the block were all ordering tabouli by the gallon and the unexpected frenzy caused a shortage? Really, I have no idea why they wouldn't have any one of their products on hand since business seems a little slow at R-n-M, but regardless, I was forced to go another direction. I chose the zalouk.

Listed as "fried eggplant, vinegar, fresh garlic, olive oil and... special Moroccan dressing," the zalouk came served on a bed of shredded less-than-fresh iceberg lettuce, with fresh pita wedges and a dusting of paprika. It was decent, with lots of garlic flavor and a baba ganoush appearance and consistency. Hard not to like something as familiar as this, but the sad looking shredded lettuce was out of place and detracted from what could otherwise have been a satisfactory dish. Still wish I'd could've had the tabouli, though.

The chicken gyro had some ups and downs. The creamy tzatziki was good-tasting, very thick and creamy, but what probably should have been a schmear or dollop was a sloppy slathering that drowned the other ingredients and squished into our hands, laps... all over. Lettuce and fresh tomato were fine, but the red onion was overly-abundant (a gripe of mine about gyros in general) and pungent. Worst of all, though, the chicken was abominable. I'll provide this descriptor of its flavor profile and then just move on: canned cat food.

After drying the wetness and Fancy Feast odor off my hands, I moved to what I expected to be a less offensive selection - the turkey club. Purported to be turkey, lettuce, turkey bacon, tomato and American cheese on grilled sourdough, what actually showed up in my styrofoam takeout box were some of those things, substituting less-than-fresh turkey cold cut meat (variance in the coloration of the turkey gave away its advancing age), a ridiculously light dusting of  tiny bacon bits, lots of unexpected raw red onion, tons of similarly unexpected horseradish sauce and bread that looked a lot more like grocery store-variety Iron Kids Bread than sourdough. And it wasn't grilled or toasted in the least. It was a stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth puff pad.

As I took the first deplorable bite, my reason, spoken earlier, for trying something as ordinary as a turkey club from a Moroccan place re-played in my mind: "I want to try something from each section of the menu. Who knows... they might have great deli sandwiches that people should know about." Bad call.. Even after I pried the lettuce away from the bread and wiped off as much of the gooey horseradish sauce  as possible, it still tasted of a sweet, soggy spiciness that made me nearly gag. Horseradish is fine in moderation, but I find many of the jarred horseradish sauces overly sweet. This stuff tasted like Miracle Whip. And any time you put too much condiment on a thin, moist, low-quality sandwich bread, the wetness becomes quickly off-putting.

The raw onion was overpowering and reeked. The single, flaccid leaf of lettuce was pointless and disgusting. The American cheese was, of course, a bad choice. The bread - tasteless. The whole thing reminded me of childhood field trips when someone else's mom packed the lunches and everything on my sandwich was unfamiliar. Wrong.

$14.61 later, I was as depressed and irked as one can be without feeling actual anger. Still, all these complaints being what they are, inside me there's a soft spot for these Rock-n-Moroccans who serve a mean Chicago dog. So the moral of the story is: you go to Rock-n-Moroccan, surprisingly, for their most American offering, not their Moroccan cuisine... Enjoy the hot dogs.

This review has "Zero Napkins" written all over it, but being that I know I'll be headed back for a perfectly enjoyable Chicago dog, I don't think zero napkins is appropriate. Gotta give them one napkin to reflect the fact that I'll enjoy this restaurant continually in the future.

Rating: one napkin (only due to the hot dogs)

PS - During my lengthy wait in line, I happened to notice that Miami Ice, just a block East, also advertises Chicago dogs, so a Chicago dog throwdown is in the near future. Look for that soon!

Rock-n-Moroccan on Urbanspoon


kgorman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kgorman said...

I would like all who read this to know that the employees that were there when this "review" were written are no longer working there. There is a new team with a new attitude we feature fresh food. The menu has been updated and features our signature sandwich the Casablanca Chicken. If you are looking for nice place to eat come try it out. When you look for bad you get bad. So don't go on an old review of a nice place and friendly people.

KCNapkins Guy said...

Hey kgorman, thanks for writing! I love to find out when a place may be improving.

I'll stop by again sometime soon to see how the changes have affected the place. Looking forward to it!

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