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Arroyo Chop House. Utterly disappointing.

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Arroyo Chop House. Utterly disappointing.

tokyoastrogirl | Aug 25, 2004 01:48 PM

The Parkway review reminded me that I had yet to write about my first (and probably last) visit to the much-lauded Arroyo Chop House. Although I agree with the previous poster that the food at Parkway isn't always "spectacular," the immpecable service and the dining experience make up for it. Now, onto Arroyo....

Went there with husband and in-laws on Sunday. Arrived without reservation, seated promptly. Our very boisterous waiter spouted off the specials- the BBQ shrimp salad "which, when most people taste it, gets a WOW! reaction" (turn volume on the word "WOW" up to about 100- enough so other people in the room actually turned to look at us). He also mentioned a halibut special. Now I know what you will say- I should have ordered a steak and you're probably right. But I wasn't feeling meat (my mother-in-law really wanted steak so we went there) and went with the bbq shrimp salad and a side of onion rings (since I LOVE me a good onion ring and I figured a steak house would have decent ones). Husband ordered the halibut, FIL ordered the ahi and asked that it be more than seared- medium please. Mom ordered a steak and baked potato. We started noshing on the fantastic warm sourdough and waited....

First up- the wowza bbq shrimp salad. Romaine lettuce just sopping wet with a ranch/bbq dressing. Pieces of what must have once been large shrimp chopped into smaller peices. A few miniture diced tomatoes. It could have passed as ranch soup it was so overdressed. Onion rings: looked fantastic. Cripsy on the outside and doughy on the inside. I even got a little pouch of flour in my mouth when I bit into one. Ick. FIL's ahi was so rare that it almost jumped off the plate and husband's halibut was so dry that it almost started a fire. FIL and husband traded dishes. Mother in law's steak and baked potato looked great, and she loved both. The sides we ordered- asparagus and green beans, were both good. Overall, however, it was hugely disappointing.

Best part: the manager started making his rounds, and instead of the usual "how is everything tonight," he says "So, I am sure you have experienced excellence at Pasadena's BEST restaurant according to Pasadena Weekly?" Talk about setting himself up for a trap. My FIL said "I'd call it far from excellent." The manager looked at us awkardly and walked away...then came back about 5 minutes later and said "Well sir, I am very curious to know why it was far from excellent since we are the best restaurant in Pasadena and I would hate for you not to experience the best." Lay off the "Best restaurant in Pasadena" thing already!!! So I spoke up and said, well, the salad was overdressed, the onion rings were doughy and the halbiut was overdone and very dry. To his credit, he apologized and even took the halibut off the bill. I certainly didn't expect him to but it was a nice gesture.

What I'm wondering is- how can this honestly be one of the best??? The salad I had could have been from Carrows, and honestly the quality of everything other than the meat just seems so mediocre. Has anyone else had this experience? I adore Parkway and, even if the food is sometimes so-so, the staff and atmosphere really keep me coming back. Dinner at Parkway is always a dining experience, not just dinner. Anyway, I don't think I could go to Arroyo again.

Thoughts?

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