Restaurants & Bars

Hereford & Hops--should be Hereford & Hopeless (Wausau, WI)

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Hereford & Hops--should be Hereford & Hopeless (Wausau, WI)

Bruce | Apr 27, 2003 05:35 PM

Call me stupid, kick me down the street--I'm still punishing myself for trying this place, yes, a third time!

The name of the place suggests the specialties: beef and beer. It has a microbrewery and the beer is exceptionally good; the food, however, is horrible, horrible, horrible, and doubly pathetic because of the pretentious, woody decor (offset--and this should be a warning--by ubiquitous television sets, including a giant screen that blankets the view of the brewing room). Another pretense: a grilling room, where you can incinerate The Steak of Your Choice. My choice, however, has been to avoid this mode of entertainment, as the grilling room, save for its fiery pit and charred grate, is entirely spartan, basement-like, and has all the charm of a gas chamber or crematorium.

On my first visit there a couple of years ago, I had lunch. Hamburgers--a steak place has to have good hamburgers, right? Wrong. Perhaps I asked for trouble in specifying "rare": The result was a patty of pulverized or pureed meat, far beyond "ground," with no hint of charring on the outside, but only the faintest tinge of gray which suggested boiling rather than grilling temperature. Oh well.

OK, I tried again about a year ago. On that occasion, my wife had fish fry and I had a Greek salad and onion soup. The salad was OK, nothing spectacular; the other items were brought to the table, after an interminable wait, stone cold. The fish had grease congealing underneath; the cheese on the onion soup was hard. Our youthful waitress, I noticed, had been on and off of the telephone, no doubt too vexed by some personal problem to be of any useful service. True, the manager did stop by, heard our complaints, offered to comp, but we were fairly ticked off by this time and indicated that we would simply not be back.

However, desperation set in the other night: which of the many crumby restaurants in the Wausau area would we choose to visit? Then, the rationalization: Well, Hereford and Hops couldn't screw up appetizers or sandwiches, could they? My wife ordered a steak sandwich smothered with green peppers, onions, and cheese; I ordered an open-face "prime rib" sandwich. The "steak" or beef on my wife's sandwich was bland and tasteless; the so-called "prime rib" on mine was tougher than any I'd ever had in my life, resistant even to the serrated steak knife that had come with my repast. The final insult, hidden under the leatherette "prime rib," was the vulcanized bread--charred beyond recognition. Most of this stuff went uneaten--my dog (an excitable but appreciative Pointer) had the "prime rib"--and the bill for this plus a couple of drinks and tip was around $35.

I hate to say this, but IMHO I could have done better at crApplebee's. One more warning: There may be a branch of this horrible place in the Upper Peninsula.

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