Thursday, February 04, 2010

Kwik Shop Grill

Kwik Shop Grill
711 East Parkway

I've been in a convenience store kind of mood. I did a piece for the current issue of Edible Memphis, Well isn't that convenient, that lists my faves. The Kwik Shop Grill, which recently burnt down and got rebuilt, was under construction when I did the story. Since I have always heard they have good burgers and the monkeys (Satchel, 7, and Jiro, 5) love burgers, I decided to take them last night.

Warren picked them up from school since I had a meeting. When I got home I discovered they had both eaten a bowl of rice and a bowl of cereal. Thinking they wouldn't be hungry, I almost called it off. However, they assured me that they were still hungry enough to eat a hamburger. Honestly, I was hungry enough to eat three hamburgers, so I didn't care if they actually ate or not, as long as they didn't climb the walls.

Dining with monkeys in convenience stores poses a few problems. Namely, you have to walk past shelves full of sugary drinks, chips and candy to get to the counter. Kwik Shop Grill is no exception. A shelf of Doritos about three feet inside the door at the monkeys' eye level greeted us upon arrival. I went ahead and instructed them to pick out a bag each. (They couldn't be any worse than fries, right?) It wasn't like we were about to have a healthy meal or anything.

They each handed me their bags and then took a seat in a booth by the window. I scanned the store. There were two people working the grill and one person playing on his phone, presumably waiting for his food to be ready. There were about eight tables in all, two large booths, and one small booth. A soda fountain in the middle of the store visually separated the grill area from the store area. I glanced at the large menu board above the grill, noted that burgers were $2.99, and asked each monkey what they wanted on theirs.

"I want cheese, pickles, and sausages on mine," said Jiro. I love how he calls the burger itself "sausages."

"Ketchup too?" I clarified. He nodded. "Satchel?"

"Ketchup and pickles," he said. "And sausages," he added, laughing.

I decided to get a grilled chicken pita because I imagined it would be similar to the one I ate almost every day at the JCC over the summer. (Bach's catering ran the concession stand.) I went for a combo so that I could try the fries and get a drink for us to share. After placing my order with a nice man at the counter, I stood there for a few minutes, expecting to pay. "I'll take your money when I'm done, lady," the nice man said. (He really did say it in a nice way. There was definitely a language barrier.)

I joined the monkeys at the table and commanded them to share their Doritos with me. "I need water!" Satchel moaned, his lips coated in orange, cheesy powder. I walked back to the grill and asked the other guy (the first guy disappeared) if I could just go ahead and get my drink. He kind of laughed and said yes. Then I said, "Water too?" He laughed and nodded. I guess I appeared mildly stupid but funny to him. I was just checking!

I was about to ask which size drink came with the combo when I realized that all of the (styrofoam) cups were the same size--20 oz. I filled one with water for Satchel and one with Diet Coke for me and Jiro to share. (When did I start letting my kids drink soda?) There was only one lid, so I put it on Satchel's cup and asked if there were any behind the counter. The guy that thought I was stupid said he'd have the other guy get some in a minute. Jiro asked for a sip of my "Diet Dr. Coffee" which was pretty funny. Maybe that's why I let him drink soda.

While we waited for the lid and our food, several more people came in to both pick up and place orders. Between dropping Doritos on the floor, the monkeys quizzed me. "How do they plug that in?" they asked, motioning to a sign plugged into an outlet in the ceiling. We argued whether a ladder could fit next to the booth or whether either of the men working would be tall enough to reach if they stood on our table. Next Satchel told me about the perioDICK table they had in their classroom. (His friend, Theo told him how to pronounce that.)

The nice man hollered that our food was ready, so I grabbed my wallet and went to retrieve it. I was impressed with how big the burgers were. My sandwich looked filling too, but the fries were not very pretty. They looked like they had been cooked a few hours earlier then re-dipped. I tried to pay, but the man said, "Eat! Eat!" So I grabbed the three (styrofoam) plates and sat back down.

Jiro picked up his giant burger and went to town. Satchel grabbed half of my fries and went to town on them despite their lackluster appearance. I dug right into my grilled chicken pita. I was starved! My pita definitely had some grilled chicken deliciousness going on. The pita was nice & thick and had been warmed on the grill just the way I like it. The lettuce, tomato, and onion "fixings" were rather blah. Iceberg lettuce, pale tomato, teeny tiny slices of raw white onion. My choices for sauce were Ranch or Honey Mustard, neither of which sounded appealing, but I got Ranch on the side. (At the JCC, the grilled chicken pita comes with hummus and tahini on it.) The lack of an exciting sauce made the sandwich rather dry and disappointing.

Jiro had about 1/3 of his hamburger left when I realized I better ask for a bite soon. The burger was actually good, especially slathered in cheese, pickles, and ketchup. The bun tasted like it had been brushed with butter and grilled, which was a nice touch. However, the patty looked like it had arrived at the store pre-made and frozen. That's a fail. However, Jiro, who had just enough ketchup on his face to look cute rather than slovenly, said, "This sure is a yummy hamburger."

Satchel finally started on his burger, much to my surprise. (I really thought the rice, cereal, chips, and fries would have filled him up.) He too declared the burger delicious and ate almost all of it in record time. We were all busy chewing so there wasn't much talking going on at our table. The guys next to us made up for it with their liberal use of the F bomb! (Since we were near the counter, I also noticed that a lot of people were ordering the fish filet and chicken filet combo.)

I had planned to take leftovers to Warren, but realizing there weren't going to be any, I went to pay and ordered him a gyro. (I know, I should have gotten him a burger.) The total came to $18 until I reminded the guy that I had two bags of Doritos, then it was $20. Not bad, not great. I did, however, like that the receipt did not come back with a tip line. Instead they had a tip jar next to the counter. (I don't like feeling like I HAVE to tip at a counter.)

I sat back down with the monkeys. Satchel was finishing up his last few bites and Jiro was annoying him by kicking him under the table. Satchel kicked back and before I knew it, they were nearing a full wrestle. Just as I started using my mean voice, the counter guy alerted me to the fact that the gyro was ready. I thanked him, grabbed the sandwich, and directed the monkeys to the door. They ignored my mean voice and played, "The ground is hot lava" on the way out, which required them to scale the booths. They conveniently landed next to the shelf with chocolatey offerings by the door. Jiro was fingering a brownie, but I firmly stated that there would be no dessert. Despite their whining, I held fast. I promised that they could have dessert at home. (Satchel chose popcorn and Jiro chose four breakfast sausages.)

When Warren got home, he said, "How was it? As good as Kwik Check [on Madison]? Where's my burger?" I told him that it was okay, but that I probably wouldn't go out of my way to eat there again. "If my car broke down nearby, maybe," I said. "And If I did, I get a burger." This did not help when I had to explain that I got him a gyro.


ashbelle said...

My husband and I were so disappointed when they burned down because we ate there regularly. We love the burgers, the gyros, and the chicken. You were right about the sauce. The way around that is to order a "chicken gyro," which is the chicken pita but with the tzatziki (sp?) sauce that comes on a gyro. It's heavenly.

The fries used to be good, but your description of their current state is accurate. I don't know what happened. I never order them anymore.

Oh, and you should try the gyro. They're good and consistent.

Anonymous said...

We used to order their burgers 4-5 (usually 5) days a week here at work before the fire. We waited and waited and waited and finally they reopened and we rushed back in for a burger. Don't know if it was the new, unseasoned grill surface or what, but it was rather "meh".

I went back last week and the amazing burgers are BACK! You should give them another try. I'm about to head up there right now. LOL

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