On Monday night we hit up Food Court Wars winner, Pimento Kitchen in Burnsville Center Mall for dinner. Based on user reviews from the various rating sites as well as the restaurant’s own website and its beautiful food photos, this looked like a perfect place to hit up for some fresh and bright food, turning the typical food court style entree on its head.
We arrived at around 6 PM, premier dinner time and looked over the Chipotle-style menu board. With limited options, Pimento has a real opportunity to concentrate on their Jamaican dishes and put out stellar meals which stand out against the usual fare presented in food courts and mall restaurants in general. All of their entrees are $8 or less and they offer sides of Coconut Rice and Beans ($3) as well as Sweet Fried Plantains ($3). We chose their non-vegetarian options of Boneless Chicken Bowl ($7), Slow-roasted Pork Wrap ($8) and their One Love (Chicken and Chopped Pork) for $8. We attempted to order a side of Coconut Rice and Beans as well as their Sweet Fried Plantains but they pushed back saying they were running low on both and that they would include them with our food instead.
Please compare the picture of the One Love wrap above to this picture on their website of the same item. Note what we were served did not actually contain any pork (a possible oversight to be sure), the vegetables/peppers, herbs, or really anything we would have come to expect based on previous reviews or what their website suggests as what you should receive. Now, to be fair, their menu doesn’t claim to include any of these things, however, one would expect more from a sandwich than simply beans, rice, and meat unless of course they were dealing with the quickly defunct Pita Plus Grill previously located on MN-13.
The food itself was fine but certainly with a lot of room to grow. The chicken and pork were tender, the jerk spicy and flavorful, and the provided sauces named “Minnesota Nice” (mild) and “Kingston Kick” (hot) followed the same trend although the difference in heat between the two sauces was negligible at best. For $26 I would have expected a little more, especially considering their likeness in design, menu, price, and serving style (warming trays, rather than freshly made) to Chipotle.
While the lack of vegetables surprised me, I was mostly shocked by the lack of sides available as well as the fact that they were using boring mass-produced tortillas for their wraps. There were 10 to 15 plantains, almost black, sitting on the counter towards the back of the restaurant in clear view of patrons, yet we were told they didn’t have enough for service. We were provided a total of 8 *SLICES* of Sweet Fried Plantain mixed in with our entrees. Yes you read that right; they gave us eight tiny slices of fried plantain pulled from a warming tray that had maybe 35 slices total right at the height of dinner service and they didn’t seem interested at all in preparing anymore than that. Their website shows some wraps done with tortillas and some done with flatbread and filled with avocado and sitting next to some mango slices. While I am no dummy and don’t expect picture-perfect prepared foods to match their PR photos in style, I do expect at least the ingredients to be available. I’m not even going to get into great detail on the small paper boat of rice/beans, chicken, and dry slaw which was presented as their ‘bowl’ and how it compared to what I would have expected that to be based on the website’s photo because, well, that would be beating a black plantain.
We purchased the episode on Amazon and watched it Monday night after our dinner. I was surprised that none of the individuals on the show, who purportedly live in Minnesota, were on-site on Monday evening. While the individuals working the counter looked the part and spoke with Jamaican accents and urged us to visit their nation for vacation, something I admitted I was unwilling to do as caravans outside of resorts are usually protected under armed guard, I would think that their brand is at least partially tied to the show and those individuals should be on hand to sell their wares.
The most striking point from the show that sticks out in my mind is that they ran out of plantains during the middle of their final challenge and one of the owners said that, if they won, they would never run out again in the future. Well, they definitely know how to keep the plantains from running out by only doling (no pun intended) out a handful of slices at a time.
There is a lot of potential here with Food Court Wars winner Pimento Kitchen; however, if they continue to push out high quality meats and sub-mediocre everything else, their year of free rent is not going to get them very far especially if Sbarro continues to have a longer line during Burnsville Center’s 20 patron ‘dinner rush’.
Have you eaten at Pimento Kitchen at Burnsville Center Mall? If so what did you think? Do you expect food shown on a restaurant’s website to at least somewhat match what you get on your plate when you order? Would you pay $8 for meat, tortilla, and rice/beans only? Have you watched Food Court Wars on the Food Network? If so what do you think about it? Whatever you have to say, go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen
1178 Burnsville Center Food Ct
Burnsville, MN 55306