Saturday, July 7, 2007

Feeney's - Phoenix

Tara was in a steak mood tonight. Normally, we do Outback, since she likes the steaks and I can usually find something. Tonight, I decided to consult the Chowhound Southwest Oracle. I ran across Feeney's mentioned in the Hidden Gems thread. I did some Googling to get some idea of price and menu, and what I found seemed to be something that would work. We jumped in the car and headed to Feeney's, which is located just south of Maryland on 12th Street.

After a short trip down the 51, we exited Glendale and headed south on 12th. Feeney's was easy to find and we parked out front. Several people were enjoying beverages on the small patio near the front door. We entered and it was a long, low building. Rough-hewn boards and exposed brick walls segmented the space. A small waiting lounge was on the immediate left, with two dining rooms beyond it on the left. On the right was the bar, followed by another small dining room, and at the far end was the salad bar/kitchen, and another long dining room on the right side of that. The hostess seated us in the small dining room adjacent to the bar. We were at a four-top and had the small four table room to ourselves. A doorway connected it to the bar, so we got to experience drunk guys getting excited at the Diamondbacks game or loudly singing along badly with Paul Simon.

Shortly after we saw down, a waitress who seemed to be at the wrong restaurant took our drink order. She was dressed in heels and basically a naughty schoolgirl outfit, complete with a plaid miniskirt that Tara estimated was about four inches too short and ten years too young for her. She took our order for my iced tea and Tara's Sprite. As she was getting them, an elderly waiter came in and listed off a lengthy list of specials. One that got my attention was a chicken special, which I ordered. Tara got the 10-ounce sirloin. We both got a baked potato and the salad bar. A baked potato or rice, and soup or salad bar were included with the entrees.

Just as we were about to get our salads, a wrapped basket of warm bread was dropped off. It contained slices of pumpernickel and rye bread along with soft butter patties. We put the napking back over the bread and went to get our salads. The salad bar was fairly basic. A big bowl of chopped iceberg lettuce with bowls of sliced veggies, a few types of mixed salads (macaroni, potato, etc) and several vats of dressing. One nice touch was that the metal salad bowls were chilled. We loaded up and headed back to the table.

When we got back to the table, we found the waiter dropping off a small pitcher of iced tea so I could keep my glass filled. It more than lasted me the whole meal. However, refills for Tara's soda proved problematic. Even though we were right next to the waitress area of the bar, the waitress/hooker made no effort to refill Tara's empty glass. The waiter would pass by without glancing in our direction as he wandered in and out of the bar and the two dining areas across from us. We finished our salads and the bread and it was still empty after a very long period. I went to the bathroom and when I got back the entrees had arrived and her drink was refilled, but only after she explicitly asked him to fill it. Oddly enough, after it was refilled, the waitress popped her head in and asked if we were doing ok with drinks. Timing is everything I guess.

The meals themselves were really good. Tara really enjoyed her steak. The center was done to the medium she asked for, but the edges were definitely medium-well. Still, that didn't bother her and she was happy.

My dish, whose exact name escapes me, was a flattened chicken breast wrapped around chopped ham and mozzarella, rolled in panko and baked. It was covered with a sherry mushroom sauce. It was very good. All the flavors came through and I liked it a lot. The baked potato was somewhat small and didn't look very appetizing, but it tasted fine. I didn't eat a lot of it due to wanting to save room for dessert.

Once we finished our entrees, I ordered a slice of the mudd pie. I've loved mudd pie since first trying some at a restaurant my mother worked at in the early 80s. This version sounded a lot like that one. Mocha ice cream, chocolate crumb crust, chocolate topping, whipped cream and nuts. This one arrived and we were disappointed. While it looked good, it was rock hard. I'm fairly sure liquid nitrogen was involved in the cooling. I had to use my fork and spoon (my knife was removed with my plate earlier) along with help from Tara to cut the pie into a manageable piece. Another letdown was the chocolate sauce. It was applied to the pie when it was made, so it was ice cold as well. The chocolate crust, essentially crushed oreo-type cookies, was only on the very bottom and spotty at that. While the dessert had promise, it was just too cold and the chilled chocolate was like taffy to Tara. I used to make mudd pie with all these same ingredients all the time, along with a homemade chocolate sauce, and it was far superior. Not a great end to the meal.

When we were done, we asked for the check set it and the credit card on the table. And waited and waited and waited. Apparently we became invisible. I watched our waiter go into the room directly across from us at least 10 times and into the room just beyond it as many. He'd walk into the bar next to us empty handed, talk, and leave again. The slutty waitress was hanging around there as well, and even walking withing three feet of our table, never glanced our way. After a good fifteen minutes, the waiter walked down the hall, turned, kinda looked surprised we were still sitting there, and grabbed our bill with nary a word. He came back and we got ready to leave. Once thing caught my eye on the bill, namely the pie was charged higher than on the menu. On the way out, I looked at the menu and it was lower than on our bill. I mentioned this to the hostess and they redid the bill correctly with no complaints.

Overall we liked the food. However, the service was not satisfactory on the whole. There were only four tables for the majority of the time we were there, so there was no reason for the drinks not to be topped off. The fairly useless waitress spent most of her time in the doorway to the bar by our table, flirting with the drunk guys and generally ignoring us when we actually needed something. The waiter seemed to forget we were there at all from time to time. Up until when we got the bill, we were fairly happy with the experience. After being ignored for such a long time, however, that faded rapidly. They weren't busy. Being one of only four or five tables with customers out of maybe 20 or so tables, we should have seen or been seen a lot more often. The waitstaff didn't seem to be overburdened. The waitress certainly had a lot of free time. I really hate it when bad service ruins what was essentially a really good meal.

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