Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Friday, August 28, 2009

Not the Best of Times...

Off-Night at Killmeyer's? Let's hope…

Everybody's entitled to have an off-night, I suppose. But in the world of service or entertainment, you're only as good as your last gig. And my experience last night at one of my favorite places--Killmeyer's Old Bavaria Inn on Staten Island--did not leave me longing for a return.

For starters, many of the beers offered on the "Spring '09" beer menu were unavailable, as were some on the more extensive menu. When I go to a place like Killmeyer's, the German beer is the main reason. Though my first beer was available--a Spaten Optimator-- many others weren't. If I wanted a Blue Moon Honeymoon, I could get it cheaper on this side of the Arthur Kill.

Besides being disappointing, it can sometimes make me forget my manners. I asked the waitress what Oktoberfest beers were available. She came back with this information from the bartender: "Oktoberfest beer isn't in the country yet."

Huh? I confess that I wasn't as refined as I probably should have been when I replied, "He's full of sh!t." Fortunately, I knew the waitress from a previous visit, so I doubt she was offended in any way. Her smile and attitude, in fact, were the brightest parts of the visit.

But here was an obvious case of a barkeep trying to BS a customer. Barkeeps not only need to be truthful, they need to be aware that some of their customers may actually know beer. If Oktoberfest beer isn't in the country yet, I must have been drinking and reviewing Ersatz-Marzen these past weeks.

Then there was the disappointment with the food menu. Online, Killmeyer's offers Crab Cakes--a major draw for two members of my party. But on this night they were, like many of the beers, MIA. Instead, there was something called Crab Nuggets. Not bad, I was told, but not Crab Cakes, either. That meant that two of my party had to switch gears, despite being lured to Killmeyer's by my promise of Crab Cakes being on the menu. My reputation as being knowledgeable about the places I visit and review took a serious hit.

It took another hit when, after promising my party that there would be hamburgers on the menu, I was told that while they were available, they weren't allowed to be served in the dining area.

Huh? They could be served outside or at the bar, we were advised, but not here sitting down under Franz's (a stuffed moose) gaze. The logic of that misguided policy defies common sense—not to mention Winter, and the waitress allowed that it frequently costs her customers.

And while I'm on the subject of losing customers, let me say that had this been my first visit to Killmeyer's, it would certainly have been my last. When I visit places that don't satisfy, I don't write about them and pass them on to my readership. "Better left alone" is my reviewing philosophy in cases like that. But in this case, Killmeyer's has performed admirably in the past, and as such, deserves an "off-night" pass. My party did enjoy the food they ordered, though the regular beer snafus didn't do much to complement what they ate.

However, if he's promoting Killmeyer's as "a family place that has everything from escargot to hot dogs," Ken Tirado needs to ditch that Bizarre Burger Doctrine ASAP. He also needs to insure that what is advertised on both the beer and food menus is--with rare exception--actually available.

Ditto Oktoberfest beers in late August.

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