Bobarino's


(Grand Rapids, MI) — As most Michiganders know, when the sun is shining and temperatures are pleasant, it’s difficult not to get out and enjoy some fresh air...mostly because we know winter could creep up on us sooner than expected. So it is, we decide to hit an outdoor patio for dinner. But which? Although we’ve been to the B.O.B. many times, we’ve never visited Bobarino’s Sky Deck and it sounds like the perfect start to another new adventure...

He Fed:

From below, the Sky Deck (which is actually an extension of Bobarino’s) look impressive with its swooping sun screens and almost circus-like tent poles. We take the elevator up to the second floor then scout around until we spot the door leading to the deck. There are many waitresses milling about, probably prepping for later dinner service when the nightlife picks up. (We are early birds, it appears, though it’s nearly 7p.) One server tells us to sit anywhere we like, so we take one of the many vacant tables at the far end. The furniture is a mix of lounge booth-couches and utilitarian chairs and tables. I notice there is a bit of neon that has blown out near the top of the building. The sun screens and poles seem more industrial up here than from below.

Since I’m a mug club member, I order a Hopsun for $2. Yeah, you heard me right. For $25, you get a LIFETIME membership to the mug club with all kinds of perks and discounts. If you’re a beer lover like me, you’d be foolish not to join. And there’s nothing better than a cold Hopsun on a warm deck in summer!

Juliet and I decide to keep it simple tonight, with a single appetizer and mains. The Buffalo Chicken Rolls look promising, though I’m a little wary of deep fried foods these days. To my surprise, the app is like three giant egg rolls, split at an angle so the interior is exposed. Bright orange buffalo chicken meat has been topped with melty cheddar jack. The rolls sit on bleu cheese sauce and are sprinkled with scallion bits, but also some clever shards of celery. It’s got a little kick, but not too much. All of the components are well-balanced. The celery adds a crisp, clean punch and the eggroll is not too greasy or crunchy. This is probably one of the best appetizers I’ve ever had. Simply put: great.

Excited now, we both decide to get a different burger and share halfsies. We ask our waitress—who has been very friendly and prompt, though not the most efficient server we’ve had—if the meat has been ground in-house? Unfortunately, no, but the Angus beef has been purchased from a reputable butcher. Juliet gets the Olive Burger and I opt for the Beer Burger. We both order them on pretzel buns with fries, and medium rare. The fries are just plain awful, tasting like the frozen crinkle cut variety you can get in a bag at the grocery store. The beef patties are juicy but not medium rare; they’ve been overcooked to at least medium. Nothing appetizing about grey, tasteless beef despite grill marks. Halfway through my meal, I start to feel the heaviness in the bottom of my gut and know I’ve just had The Burger of Regret.

We leave with mixed feelings. This particular adventure sums up our experiences at The B.O.B. and other Gilmore restaurants: inconsistent. How can you go from a fantastic starter to such a disappointing sandwich? At least the beer is good.
She Fed:

I haven’t been at a restaurant in the BOB for quite some time, so when Jeremy suggests Bobarino’s, I jump at the chance to soak up some “end of summer” sun on their deck tonight. Despite the warm temps, there’s plenty of seating and we grab a table at the edge of the deck so we can see the foot traffic below and a bit of the city skyline.

We start with the buffalo chicken rolls, egg rolls stuffed with buffalo chicken. It’s a lovely dish and a tasty one too. The egg rolls have been deep-fried and sliced in half. Bias cut celery and green onions garnish the rolls and there’s a pool of blue cheese sauce for dipping. The spicy chicken, crunchy celery and tang of the blue cheese is divine. It’s like hot wings minus the muss and fuss!

We’ve been eating a ton of vegetarian fare lately, so I decide to get the olive burger. Sweet potato chips come standard, but I upgrade to fries for a buck more. Jeremy goes for a burger with fries too and we sit back to enjoy the setting sun.

The burgers arrive quickly. Despite us both ordering medium rare, they are overcooked. Mine’s nearly well done and from what I can see, Jeremy’s is medium well. I consider sending mine back, but opt to just dig in. The burger’s pretty good with lots of olive sauce and a generous slab of melted “local olive cheese” to keep it moist. The pretzel bun is tasty, but the bottom portion of is sliced so thin that it’s gummy and stuck to the burger.

We agreed to go “splitsies” on the burgers, so we swap halves. Jeremy’s burger has a thick layer of crispy beer onions on it along with lettuce, smoked cheddar, and tomato slices. I toss the tomatoes and take a big bite. The burger is closer to medium than mine was, so it’s juicier, but it’s overly salty. I don’t know if it’s the fried onions, the seasonings on the meat or what, but I can’t finish it.

The fries are standard crinkle cut fries from the deep freeze; very reminiscent of Ore-Ida. I cannot believe this sad pile of fries qualifies for a dollar up charge. To add insult to injury, the fries are undercooked and nearly tasteless.

Our waitress is friendly enough, but not efficient. She forgets wine menus when we first sit down and she doesn’t ask if Jeremy wants an ice water when I order one (it’s very hot out). At one point when Jeremy drains his pint glass she takes his refill order and turns tail despite my empty wine glass. She makes multiple trips throughout our meal due to this carelessness.

Tonight’s experience mirrors many we’ve had with Gilmore Collection eateries in the past. The inconsistency with food and service is impossible to overlook. The solid appetizer and fabulous view are overshadowed by overcooked burgers, spotty service and pitiful fries. Not worth a repeat visit in my book.

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