Upon hearing that I review restaurants professionally, most people gush, “How glamorous to visit all the trendy new bistros and get paid for one’s opinion!” Their eyes mist over with the romantic visions put forth by Hollywood about food writing.
Don’t get me wrong; it is a very cool thing to do. But there are times when the experience falls short of glamorous and tries the patience along with the palate. In those situations, I rely heavily on humor to get though. In the case of Sundance Cantina, dinner provided more of a comedy of errors than a theater of cuisine.
I trekked out to Boomtown with my husband, Tony, to try out the casino’s revamped 24-hour venue. From the parking lot, we followed the breadcrumb trail of neon signs to find the place.
The menu is one of those big foldout types that contain something for every possible patron. I admit that I am not a fan of this approach, because the wide focus often means lesser quality overall. This menu has everything from chicken-fried steak to wood-fired pizza to a large page devoted to Mexican food dubbed as “authentic.”
Tony ordered a cheese and mushroom pizza ($8), and I perused the Mexican page, selecting the tamales ($9.95). We were invited to help ourselves to the soup and salad bar while we waited. Tony made himself a salad from the fatigued looking selections, while I sampled the scalding chicken noodle soup.
Although our food arrived quickly, the server didn’t pay attention to detail. I was handed the wrong plate and had to swap with Tony, using all the available paper napkins to retrieve my screaming hot plate of tamales.
With the exception of the rice, my plate was completely covered with a thick layer of molten cheese, making it impossible to tell where the refried beans ended and the tamales began. The tamales had probably been quite good several hours earlier, but my guess is that an extended stay in a steam table had left them somewhat rubbery and leaden. There was no respite in the rice, which had no fluff, but was shiny with oil.
The pizza looked appetizing but fell on its face upon first bite. The sparse toppings covered a sauce that lacked any flavor. We spent a disproportionate amount of time trying to find a speck of herb in it. It tasted like school cafeteria pizza.
The highlight of the evening had to be the antics of our server. When he came to deliver our check, he chucked some individual packets of Oreo cookies at us, announcing, “Dessert!” While clearing our table, he folded the remains of the pizza to make it fit into the too-small take-out box and proceeded to drop silverware nearly into Tony’s lap. One knife hit the floor, and rather than stoop to pick it up, he kicked it all the way to the kitchen. On the tile floor, this made a clanging sound audible across the room.
We had a different server on the second visit, who was much more on top of our dinner. Tony tried the honey mustard chicken sandwich ($7.50), which was tasty but a little overcooked. His cheese quesadilla ($5.75) was pretty standard, but it was crisp outside and gooey inside, just as it should be. I went the breakfast route and ordered a Pancake Sandwich ($5.50). The pancakes and bacon were good, but the scrambled eggs were so dry, I thought they would turn to dust if I blew on them.
No offers of salad this time, and no Oreos or offers of dessert at the end. Overall, the second experience was just OK. At the very least, there were major inconsistencies in service. It would be great if Boomtown left the games of chance to the casino floor and took the guesswork out of the restaurant.