On Saturday I made a semi-annual trip down to Miesville to check on a geocache I have hidden in one of Dakota County’s most natural parks. On the way I stopped at King’s Place for a burger. While I was driving home I passed the Black Stallion Saloon–a US-52 institution since 1969 and one which I needed to visit. After looking over the menu on Sunday morning and running a variety of errands, I drove the 15+ miles to beautiful Hampton, Minnesota for lunch.
We arrived minutes before noon. The bar had three patrons and the restaurant was empty aside from a single table of 10. We took a seat at a table for two as from from the group as possible. The lonely waitress stopped by and I asked for a highchair as The Rooster climbed into the seat across from me while The Wife used the restroom. The waitress briefly argued that it was a table only for two but seemed to relent when I explained he was a child and really didn’t need to take up an entire seat. While I was waiting for her to return I heard a strange sound coming from the wall next to my head. Staring at the weird wine decoration next to me and wondering why it was playing music I finally realized that further up on the wall was a clock which had extended its sides to reveal drumming figurines playing music at the top of the hour. Just as I realized it was happening the spectacle was over and the drummers began to retreat inside the clock. Explaining this to The Wife was met with confusion and awe as we looked over the rest of the oddly decorated restaurant.
The restaurant itself has pastel colors and sweeping designs that don’t match what anyone would think is appropriate in any decade, let alone 2012. There were decorations to cover several seasons, none of which were occurring at this particular point in time. The Wife was particularly fond of the glitter encrusted snowman by the front door while I really liked the plastic lights on the wall above each table which all still had the sticker which claimed they were made in Italy, as if it was so important to let everyone know that a supper club in Hampton, MN was charging high prices for their meals because they had expensive light fixtures.
I asked the waitress if the lunch specials were available on Sundays and she said they were. We both chose from there and I went with the bone-in extra spicy Buffalo wings ($8.99 for 10) and the Broiled Walleye ($8.99). The Wife chose the half-rack of ribs with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce ($11.99) and we ordered a cheeseburger for The Rooster. While none of their lunch items are out of control, the rest of their menu (from April 2010) is a little pricey for such an out of the way place on the side of US-52 in Hampton.
The service was incredibly slow. Between the woman fawning over the table of 10 and our out of the way location which was clearly taxing her as she traveled between the only two occupied tables, we were served as rarely as possible. The Buffalo wings were out first. They came with a side of bleu cheese dressing, a couple stalks of celery, and were heavily breaded and doused in sauce. The wings were spicy and got my nose running. The Wife thought they tasted of chemicals but I chalked that up to the terrible bleu cheese dressing. I ate them and thought they were fine but I really don’t much care for heavily breaded wings. I liked the spice level but I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to have them again and certainly don’t suggest anyone else does either.
The walleye came out with a side of mixed wax beans and undercooked baby carrots. It had a large and tasteless lemon wedge and some melted butter. The fish itself, even though it was clear they tried to season it, had no flavor. While this is why most people want to order fish like walleye, I really could have been eating oatmeal shaped like a fish filet and I would not have known the difference. The beans and carrots were fine, certainly better than frozen french fries, but they were definitely unseasoned and undercooked. Overall a big pass for me.
The Wife’s ribs were tender and coated in plenty of mass produced Sweet Baby Ray’s as promised. Unfortunately aside from the sauce these ribs were utterly tasteless. While plenty of people must love SBR’s, so much so that a restaurant would feel proud touting it on their menu, it did little to make me think it was worth the $11.99, let alone the surprise $13.99 charge we later found on the bill (over an hour after we arrived and too late for me to bother complaining to our pokey waitress). The Wife had an unbelievably large pile of lightly seasoned, previously frozen, crinkle-cut fries to go with her meal. She noted that she really would have preferred a different side–something they apparently offer on their dinner menu.
The Rooster’s burger was large, quite large actually, even though we were also overcharged for his meal as well. Unfortunately the burger was WAY overcooked–very well done in fact and the cheese was only a shred of its prior self as most of it had clearly evaporated in the burning process used to ensure optimal dryness. We took half of it home for him to eat again for lunch but I probably would have left it had I been served the same thing for my meal.
When it was all said and done we paid just over $40 (before tip) for pretty tasteless food. While this may suffice for the area being that it’s generally devoid of any and all decent restaurants for twenty+ miles, I really don’t understand how it has survived as long as it has. They need to rework the decor, the service and especially the food in order to bring this place around to match their motto of, “A Tradition of Excellent Food and a Friendly Atmosphere since 1969!”
Overall I wasn’t impressed at all and I really think that was a waste of $40 which could have definitely been spent just about anywhere else for a better meal, possibly even across the street at Little Oscar’s or even the gas station.
Have you ever eaten at the Black Stallion Saloon? If so what did you think and what did you have? How long has it been since you’ve eaten there? Do any of the menu items look like something you’d eat again? Do you think that people should only stick to the prime rib? What other outstate supper clubs do you like to eat at? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
See all the pictures from the Black Stallion Saloon on Flickr here.