Country Kitchen — Stuart, IA

I was on such a high after leaving The Dutchman’s Store–wandering around, getting great culinary inspiration–I really wanted an excellent meal to inspire me even more.

I did NOT find it at my next stop :(

Once I finally managed to escape the back roads of IA and started to stretch my legs on the interstate again, I decided it was time to get some food in me, so I picked a place that looked likely: The Country Kitchen.

Yes, they have a website. They’re a chain (which I didn’t know at the time), and I ate in this location:

Country Kitchen
1120 S Division St
Stuart, IA 50250-2160
(515) 523-1762

It was about 3pm by the time I stopped, so they weren’t busy. The hostess led me to my table and handed me a menu. Their spécialité de la maison is apparently their calico bean soup, so I ordered a bowl of the soup, a glass of tea, and their mini-burger and fries appetizer.

This is apparently where the problems began :(

My waitress brought my soup a few minutes later …

… but I had to grab her and ask her about my tea the next time I saw her … which was more than 10 minutes later. Strike one.

The soup was great, a salty/juicy mixture of ham, onions, tomatoes, and several different varieties of dried beans. I counted black-eyes peas, lima beans, lentils, great northern beans, pinto beans, and others in my bowl. It was hot and tasty, and felt great on my still-sore throat …

… but there was still no sign of my mini-burgers and fries, which was a little disappointing. The waitress had spun off so fast when I ordered (without asking) that I didn’t have a chance to tell her that I’d prefer my soup with the rest of my food. I didn’t want to eat so much of the soup that I didn’t have room for the rest of what I ordered, so I lagged a bit on the soup until my waitress showed back up with the remainder of my order.

I saw the problem instantly, and asked “umm?…what about my fries?

Her response was a deadpan, “I didn’t think you wanted them when you ordered the soup, too.”

Strike two. I said “No, I wanted them. That’s why I ordered them. And didn’t the appetizer just have two burgers … not three?

She said “I gave you the dinner instead.

But I didn’t order the dinner. I ordered the appetizer, and added a soup to it, because that’s what I wanted.”

Then she had the audacity to look me right in the face and ask … after I had just said it, and the rest of my food is sitting there getting cold … “did you still want the fries?

If I had said “yes” … it would have probably taken me another 10-15 minutes to get them, and–by that point–my grissly burgers would have been cold, so my response was “don’t bother.”

She disappears again, never comes back to refill my tea, and I have to track her down to get a go-box and my bill. That’s when I discover that she’s charged me for what she decided that I wanted to eat … not what I ordered. That confirmed for me that she’s the one who changed the order, and–needless to say–it was strike three for me.

I went looking for a manager … but apparently there wasn’t one on duty right then … just the hostess, who was also waiting a few tables, too. I told her that I wanted to see the menu, because I was very unhappy about my order being changed on me, and I wanted to see how much of a difference there was between what I was paying for, and what I’d actually asked for. Her response was to look at it for me–not show me the menu–and then to say, rather snarkily … “well, the kitchen apparently didn’t know what she was ordering … some of our menu is new … but the way she charged you (full price for the dinner, with a $1 add-on for the bowl of soup) is cheaper than the other way.”

She then closed the menu and put it away … so apparently I was not allowed to verify that statement myself.

Final score? Because of that–and my total experience there–I didn’t feel obligated to leave them a tip … or to give them any better than a D- as a final grade. Their soup was tasty, but their waitstaff is clueless, and their response to you calling them on it is to get snippy with YOU. Therefore, I won’t step foot in another Country Kitchen restaurant … ever!

About Lane

Just a canner ... on this food journey called life :)
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3 Responses to Country Kitchen — Stuart, IA

  1. Pingback: Moving on :) | A Food Journey To Go

  2. Stuart CK Server says:

    I work at this location, actually. For starters, our calico soup is NOT our specialty. It is a frozen mixture that we thaw and cook. Second, we don’t even HAVE a mini-cheeseburgers and fries dinner. We have an appetizer one and a senior menu one. She was in the wrong for screwing up with the fries, yes, but we serve our soup BEFORE the meal unless you order a half sandwich and soup combo or otherwise instructed. Your burgers most likely took so long to cook because they are thicker than the rest so they have to cook long enough for our health standards. Then we put on the cheese and they go on our flat grill for a few minutes. And finally, she charged you for what you GOT. Yes, it wasn’t what your ordered, but it’s what you got and ate. Our menu is completely electronic so in order for the kitchen to get your order, we put it into our computer. If that’s how it was cooked, that’s what you get charged for. If you REALLY had a problem, you should have gotten the manager. There is always one on duty because we need a manager code for a lot of stuff. So he or she was probably in the back doing inventory because no one said anything. Thank you for your time, but please don’t judge on one experience

  3. Lane says:

    I appreciate that you work there, Stuart … and that every restaurant can have a bad day. However, if you’ll take a cruise through my blog on that particular trip … I traveled for 39 days, and reviewed more than 45 restaurants along the way. I’m really not that tough a critic. I don’t expect every restaurant to be Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse … and I allow a wide berth when it comes to road food. I only had three C-‘s during the whole trip, and not that many C’s. Most places got much better grades … but I gave Country Kitchen a well-deserved D- … because–hand’s down–it was the absolute worst meal on my trip. You may not appreciate my honesty … but it is an honest assessment.

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