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Hereford House

I’m such a big fan of Kansas City and really want to support my town and it’s homegrown businesses. So it’s always caused me some consternation that I just can’t get excited about KC’s hometown steakhouse Hereford House.

It seems even in college, before I lived here, we would eat at Hereford House during a weekend trip, and I recall going several times in the first year after moving to KC. After all, so many people will direct you to their nearest location if you ask where to get a good steak. But each time, I left thinking it wasn’t all that people had told me.

Even though it’s not on my list of places to go, I do end up there sometimes for group dinners or a friend’s birthday. This week, Hereford House was my mother-in-law’s pick for dinner after running some errands in Zona Rosa. I was actually up on the idea! It would give me a fresh look at a place that continues to be a KC staple and perhaps I had just had bad luck dining there.

We were off to a great start with some killer onion rings. Nicely cut, thick onions where fully cooked but not grease-laden. And the batter was crispy but still soft and moist. These babies were solid! Served with a little ketchup and ranch and I was really enjoying my “cheat” portion of the dinner.

Unfortunately the euphoria stopped there.

We also ordered crab cakes since I like to sample a few appetizers when writing about a place. They were pretty average. There seeemd to be a good amount of crab in them, but instead of being lumped together it was thinly spread through a lot of bread crumbs and filler. For me, the flavor just wasn’t quite right. It seemed overly seasoned and heavy on the filling. I expected the bed of mustard sauce to be a nice touch, but it was a little distracting and didn’t really work with the seafood flavor.

While I know it’s not the place to really set your hopes high, I was most disappointed in my salad. For some reason, I remembered having been to the Hereford House in Independence a long time ago and our house salads came beautifully topped and along with a caddy carrying three kinds of dressing to taste and choose at your pleasure. This salad had wimpy lettuce, some weenie croutons (seriously smaller and harder than my pinky fingernail) and a few tomatoes and cucumber. What happened to the pretty slices of onion and the shredded cheese?!?! The blue cheese crumbles were a nice touch, but the blue cheese dressing was rather bland. For a steakhouse salad, this was disaster.

There is a silver lining here. My mother-in-law had the spring greens salad. It was lovely – already dressed with a nice vinaigrette and topped with thin potato sticks, tomato and french fried onions. THAT’s the salad to order!

I felt good about our steak selections: the filet and a blackened ribeye. But once again, I encountered a boring, oddly seasoned piece of meat. The filet was fine (nicely sized in fact), but it wasn’t really even “good” in my opinion. I would take a filet at Longhorn, Outback, or Trezo Mare over this. And I really can’t pinpoint whether it’s the quality, the flavor of their grill or the lack of seasonings, but something is definitely missing.

My blackened ribeye was overcooked – nearly losing much of the pink in some spots when I had ordered medium rare. The spices definitely didn’t follow the traditional “blackened” route. I’m not big on spicy food, but there wasn’t much depth to whatever seasoning mixture was added. Perhaps it was washed away by the river of butter and onions flowing across the top. It sounded great when I read the menu, but the topping did little to enhance the flavor. And wasn’t just the seasonings, the meat was not as flavorful as anticipated. The bone-in ribeyes from HyVee that I grilled this weekend had more flavor, in fact. If you want a great ribeye, go to Houston’s or try out Pot Pie. The price is comparable.

Even my twice baked potato was sub-par. The filling had large chunks of potato instead of being more blended. That would have been fine if there had been any other flavor added besides some sour cream…and little at that. Nothing seemed to work together.

Being restrained, we decided to pass on dessert. But I will note that a co-worker says Hereford House chocolate cake is among the best on the planet (and her husband can’t get enough of their stuffed mushrooms!) And I should mention that my husband loves their steak soup! So if you end up there, perhaps those are two solid orders (along with the onion rings) that could make for an enjoyable dinner.

Perhaps my next trip will just be to have dessert and some coffee in the fantastic mugs they have. BUT, sorry Kansas City….probably not going back on purpose.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sheri Brown #

    I look forward to reading your blog (you and Pioneer Woman) but what a disappointing post. I love your positive approach to discovering new foods and introducing new places, treats and concepts.

    Your negative review of the Hereford House seems out of character for what you describe as your mission. You say you aren’t an expert (which is what makes your blog fun) but you critiqued them as if you were.

    Your intent was to damage their reputation and you’ve never done that before. You may reply that you are protecting readers from a bland salad, but searching for the “bad bite” is not what you are about, is it? C’mon Bambi, remember what Thumper said – “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

    I have friends that work at Hereford House, Oklahoma Joes, La Bodega, etc. and I cringe at every blog, review, Yelp etc. that pontificates on negative aspects of Kansas City restaurants. (Especially the ones that aren’t national chains). These places pay taxes, they employee our neighbors, and they give a unique feel and culture to the city. Without them we are a land of Golden Arches and Pizza Huts.

    Continue discovering new foods, letting us know about little known treasures and new dining concepts. The joy of reading your blog is the excitement of you digging up little tidbits, cocktails and special tastes and places, not digging dirt.

    May 12, 2012
  2. Sheri, thank you for reading and for your comments. I’m honored that you would reference my blog in the same sentence as Pioneer Woman! I hope you can tell my intent was not to damage, as I approached the meal with anticipation that it might demonstrate my previous experiences were not the norm. Truth is that not all dining experiences are good. I know what I like and, thankfully, there’s a lot to love in KC! But I also know what I don’t like. And writing about that doesn’t equate posing as an expert. I’m simply expressing my own frustration with an establishment I really WANT to be a shining star for KC food. I hope you will continue reading.

    May 15, 2012

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