A family owned restaurant which claims to pride itself in from-scratch cooking and fresh, quality ingredients, this sounded like exactly the kind of restaurant we would love to hit up. While the menu touts the much hated frozen yogurt, the main entrees range from Greek to turkey and beef and seem decent enough at first glance.
We arrived at about 7:30 on a Thursday and found the restaurant completely deserted aside from the three people working inside (the owner, his daughter who he, I hope, jokingly suggested drop out of school already). We walked up to the counter and placed our orders for a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich for The Wife, a BBQ Beef Sandwich for me, and a Mac and Cheese for The Rooster. There were a stack of local flyer coupon books by the front door and The Wife snatched one up, thumbed through it, and found a buy one and get one half off coupon to use. With chips and a drink each of the entrees ran between $8.25 and $8.75 with The Rooster’s Mac and Cheese nabbing just under $2. Before the coupon we would have paid just over $20 for the honor to eat this meal but with the coupon it was a slightly more reasonable $16 and change.
While they have a ton of gyros, the meat wasn’t on the spit tonight and without being able to see it I decided on the BBQ Beef Sandwich. The menu notes that it’s made with their famous BBQ sauce. When I asked what made it famous, being they haven’t been open all that long, they told me the patriarch of the family used to own and operate Jimmy’s Lemon Tree, a greek restaurant which also had very popular BBQ. Being sold on a family recipe handed down through the generations, I placed my order on a pita bread–being that they are a pita place after all. The sandwich itself is simply bread, beef, and BBQ sauce. The Wife, still riding the high from her taste of Blue Ox‘s Buffalo Chicken Sandwich a few weeks ago, chose to go that route. It comes with lettuce, tomato, and blue cheese. Pretty typical stuff.
The orders were made up while we waited at a table munching on the pretty poor selection of kettle chips (plain, jalapeno, and parmesan garlic I believe). I was pleased to see that they had Diet Sierra Mist on tap as too many places don’t offer any caffeine free diet sodas. Our orders were up after we finished our chips and I went up to the counter to retrieve them.
The Rooster’s Mac and Cheese was simple. The noodles, while chewy, were covered in cheese that wasn’t made out of a box. It had some nice flavor and while it will never compare to the excellent product put out by Valley Tap House, it was hands down the best item we sampled last evening and being that it was simply underdone noodles and some cheese should tell you a lot about what’s to come.
The Wife’s Buffalo Chicken Sandwich was tiny, tasteless, and generally awful. While she opted for the house bread (a simple hoagie roll) instead of the pita, there was nothing at all worthwhile about this sandwich. When I think of “house bread”, a boring roll that could have been Subway’s 6″ day-old castoffs doesn’t come to mind. Instead, I think of the homemade pretzel buns I made the other day, not the garbage we were served last night. The chicken was orange like Buffalo sauce but it didn’t taste like it. The bleu cheese was there but tasted weak and watery; I’ve had better bleu cheese dressing at BW3 and that’s saying a lot. The lettuce and tomato were wilted, slimy and gross. I realize that tomatoes aren’t in season but I really don’t see the need to be pasting orange tomato slices on top of orange Buffalo sauce. I mean if you’re not adding anything with the vegetable, why don’t you just leave it off? When the owner later asked us how our meals were I minced no words. I told him that if he wanted to compete he needed to up his game and he should check out Blue Ox because they had him beat by 100% and I noted they’re also family-owned and operated just in case he was wondering.
My BBQ Beef Sandwich was, hands down, the single worst meal I’ve had in a very long time. I mean it was almost as bad as what I had at the now defunct Anthony’s Parkway Grille and that’s saying a lot. The BBQ sauce was good. I mean, it could have been out of a bottle and/or simply Famous Daves with a little more liquid smoke added but it wasn’t as disgusting as the rest of the sandwich. The pita bread, remember this is the namesake of the restaurant, was downright atrocious. It was chewy, rubbery, tasteless, and added absolutely no value to the sandwich. Honestly, if they weren’t buying it from some sixth-rate supplier I would be surprised and it certainly wasn’t made in house as the naan across the street wrapping Ramadan’s gyros (which are HUGE (big as my head, seriously) and only $8 with fries) is. The beef, however, was miserable to eat. It was chewy, chewy, and chewy. It had zero beef flavor and I really just couldn’t get by the toughness of the meat. For a restaurant which claims, “We are up early every morning to grill our chicken and steak, roast our turkey, and slice our vegetables,” I have to admit that they may want to check to make sure they’re not microwaving the beef because there’s no way an oven could make beef that disgusting. Honestly, I wouldn’t expect that poor quality of beef out of a $1.99 Hungry Man frozen meal stuck in the back of a vacant bus station vending machine, but there it was on a plate in front of me at a Burnsville restaurant for $6.75. When I told the owner how awful his meal was he at least had the decency to look disappointed and say he was sorry. I’m guessing that the slew of reviewers on Urbanspoon (almost all with 1 review under their belt) are shills because if they’re not, they’re in line with those who think Old Chicago has the best bacon cheeseburger in a five mile radius.
On my way out I offered them the best of luck. I was really genuine in saying it because they’re going to need a lot of it to pull Pita Plus Sandwich Grill out of the hole they have dug for themselves. There is absolutely no way this place is going to last 6 months, let alone a year, unless they make some serious changes to their cooking. All the nostalgic BBQ sauce in the world isn’t going to help save them from what amounts to sub-amateurish cooking skill.
Have you eaten at Pita Plus in Burnsville? If so what did you think? What items did you try and what were your favorites? If you were going to choose a gyro would you pay $8 (with fries) across the street for homemade bread, fresh meat, and a ton of veggies or would you go with a premade pita, tough meat and no flavor for for about the same price? Do you have plans to head over there to see if it’s really as bad as I say? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Pita Plus Burnsville
1501 Riverwood Drive
Burnsville, MN 55337