Urban Beets50 N. Sierra St.
Reno, NV 89501
I’m not a good person. I don’t go around kicking puppies or anything, but I also don’t really do anything to help others, unless being shamed into dropping coins in the Salvation Army can counts. When I heard that Spread Peace Café donates a meal to the homeless for every meal served in the restaurant, I figured, hey, this is a good way for me to do my basic nothing and still be helpful. When I visited, it was explained that donating a meal for every meal served was costing too much money, so now they donate one thousand meals a month to people staying at Tent City and other items such as blankets, coats, etc. Obviously, this is still quite generous and definitely not the typical business model of most restaurants.
The restaurant itself is comfortable and modern, with windows facing the Truckee River, muted greens and browns on the wall and large TVs showing sports and nature pictures. The lunch menu has choices like sandwiches, wraps, pizzas and a salad bar with the dinner menu being more expansive.
To start, my friend Brooke and I ordered the artichoke dip ($9), which came with crostini for dipping. The large serving was cheesy and creamy, which I liked, but it needed more artichokes and basil, since only a few flakes appeared on top. For entrées, I went with the oven grilled chicken sandwich ($9) and Brooke ordered the French dip ($9). Twenty minutes later, the waitress dropped my meal off without a word and disappeared, I assumed, to get Brooke’s meal. After a while, it was obvious she wasn’t coming back, so I decided we should just split my sandwich, and then we could share hers when it arrived. The sandwich, which came on a large French roll, had Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, aioli, arugula and tomatoes and was paired with an Asian slaw, which unfortunately tasted overwhelmingly of salt. The chicken, arugula and tomatoes tasted fresh, but it needed more aioli and onions to add some stronger flavor.
By the time we finished the sandwich, we realized Brooke’s French dip was not coming. I wish I could say that the staff was so busy that they either misplaced the order or were backed up, but the restaurant was empty except for us and one other table. When I finally did flag down our waitress, I asked about our missing sandwich but explained we didn’t want it if it wasn’t being cooked since we had been there an hour at this point. After consulting with another waitress, all the while holding our empty water glasses hostage, both waitresses returned and told us that the order was never placed. They never apologized to us and instead left us to return to the counter, where one sat on the bar and texted on her phone, and the other stared into space. I eventually had to flag them down to ask for the check. I was concerned watching employees go out for smoke breaks in front of the restaurant. When they walked back in, all I could hope was that there was some serious hand washing going on.
Overall, the food—or what was brought out, anyway—was decent, but most items on the menu seemed overpriced, and the staff is too lackadaisical about service. I applaud what they are doing to help those in need, but unless they help those in the restaurant first, I’m not coming back.