Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Caleco's (St. Louis)

Caleco’s Bar and Grill
101 N Broadway
St Louis, MO 63102
(314) 421-0708

Let me just preface this by saying that I would never ever take the monkeys (Satchel, 4, and Jiro, 2) to any restaurant at 9:15pm, but we were out of town and we needed to eat!

We arrived in St. Louis around 6:30pm and immediately headed to the pool on the roof of our hotel. At 8:30pm, we found ourselves wet, hungry, and alone in a strange city. I called the hotel’s front desk and said, “Can you recommend a restaurant in walking distance that I could take two small children to?” I was given two options: Caleco’s Bar & Grill or TGIFriday’s.

I went with Caleco’s Bar & Grill.

We had to do a double take when we arrived at Caleco’s because it looked way more like a bar than a grill, but it did indeed have a dining room that appeared to be family friendly. As we entered, a large party was being seated and there was some confusion which resulted in the hostess completely disappearing. So Warren, the monkeys, and I had a good 5-10 minutes to stand around and get impatient. A large line started to form behind us and people seemed to be coming out of the woodwork to eat at this place. I wondered if this was because of the food or due to the owner getting in good with the concierge.

Caleco’s was clearly a sports bar—there were numerous big screen TVs around—but it had a very eclectic décor that included some extremely large aquariums, swords, and a statue of a naked woman right next to the hostess’ stand. As I scanned the restaurant for the missing hostess, Satchel sidled up to the statue and began rubbing his hand on the woman’s crotch, much to my horror and the amusement of everyone else (not so) patiently waiting for the hostess.

I conned some guy in a tie (presumably the manger) into seating us before Satchel went for the statue’s boobs. As we passed several empty tables right in front of the aquarium, Jiro started to yell, “Nemo! Nemo! Nemo!” The manager dude was kind enough to let us sit by the aquarium so that I wouldn’t have to spend the entire meal chasing the monkeys.

Warren and I were handed menus that featured several varieties of pasta and hordes of other things. The monkeys were given placemats to color which I was thankful for. (Satchel got right to work while Jiro unwrapped his silverware and wielded his fork like a dagger.) Our waiter came right over and said, “What would you like to drink?”

“I’ll have water. No! Wait! I need a beer!” I said as I wrestled Jiro for his fork. (To his credit, the waiter seemed completely nonplussed.)

I rushed Warren to order his drink and his food. I was already antsy and just wanted the meal to end. Warren ordered a Ribeye sandwich and a Fitz’s Root Beer (which is brewed locally). I got the Caleco pasta thinking it must be good if it shared the restaurant’s name. I ordered the monkeys a kids meal—one with chicken tenders and one with a grilled cheese—out of pure desperation and the hope that they would like something plain and familiar. (I did ask if we could substitute vegetables for the French fries but I was denied.) Each monkey was soon presented with a Sprite in a fancy plastic cup with a plastic lid and a fat accordion style plastic straw.

The straw kept Jiro engaged for a minute or two, but he was determined to wreak havoc. Once relinquishing his fork, he tried to remove a nearby sword from the wall, and when that failed, he started coloring the aquarium with the complementary crayons. Warren had to take him outside and pretend to leave him there in order to get him to chill out. Satchel was thoroughly engrossed in his kids’ placemat which I noticed (for the first time) was covered in purses, lipstick, cell phones, etc. WTF?

The monkeys' food came out at lightening speed which was awesome, but they were done waaaaaaaaay before our very mediocre food ever arrived. To top things off, Warren’s meal was wrong and had to be sent back which only made the whole experience last longer than I could stand.

Of course, Satchel announced that he had to go to the bathroom and I took both monkeys hoping that Warren might actually finish his dinner if left alone. In the bathroom the monkeys went completely wild once they discovered the motion sensor operated paper towel dispenser. One minute they were laughing maniacally while twenty feet of paper towels littered the floor, the next minute they were out the door and running through the bar in opposite directions at full speed.

By the time I rounded them up and we got back to the table I was in full Bitchmother mode and nearly catatonic with fury. I was getting the stink-eye from everyone in viewing distance and felt I deserved it. Warren was done with his meal and offered to take the boys outside while I attempted to locate our once very attentive, but now MIA, waiter in order to pay the bill.

I interrupt this review to ask a very serious question. Why do waiters, who work for tips, disappear at the tip paying portion of the meal? I will never understand this.

Warren had actually walked around the entire block with the boys and returned before I was able to locate the waiter. I was too exhausted to have a temper tantrum of my own, so Jiro did it for me. He was doing the full arched back technique when the waiter finally appeared. The hostess, who I was now seeing for the first time, rushed over and gave each monkey a balloon in an attempt to quell them. “Do y’all need anything else?” she asked sweetly.

The waiter returned with our check and I noticed that the gratuity was already included.




For the first time in my life, I actually questioned whether I should have just eaten at TGIFriday’s.

Caleco's Restaurants & Bars on Urbanspoon


Stephanie said...

When I was a waiter, we were taught that the first and last impressions were the most important- we might fuck up the middle, but we'd better greet the guests quickly and get them their check the minute they say they don't want dessert!

Connor turns into a pumpkin at 8:00- I can't imagine being in public with him any later than that!

Anonymous said...

I love your blogs! You're such a good writer -- and so brave with TWO little kids... my one 1 year old wears me out. I hope we wind up on the same derby team so I can get to know you better -- I can tell you're a great mom!
Wendy aka Viva La Vengeance

Ginger said...

Apparently none of the impressions matter if you just get to make up your own tip anyway!

rosemary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I unfortunately went there last weekend when i was in St. Louis at the recommendation of a friend that lived there. I was very disappointed at the meal and service. Apparently the full sized pasta, isn't much larger than the half size pasta. Anyway, i think it is there policy that ALL meals after 8 or 9 pm, no matter how large the party, include 18% gratuity.

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