Buffalo's Southwest Cafe: Over-Cooked and Under-Flavored

Sometimes I catch myself being less adventerous with restaurants.  In the event that I do find a great new restaurant, I stick with it for awhile.  Every now and then, however, my bored palate gives me a swift kick in the rear to try something new.  This weekend, my better half and I decided to try something local in our San Antonio suburb (aka Helotes), and stopped by the relatively new Buffalo's Southwest Cafe on Bandera and 1604.  Not being a huge fan of southwestern cuisine, I was a bit skeptical, but open-minded.

Upon entering the establishment, we arrive to an unattended host/hostess booth.  We stood there for a couple of awkward minutes and, out of nowhere, our hostess appears.  Our hostess completely lacked friendliness, enthusiasm, or even fundamental job skills.  She seemed confused as she looked at her seating chart, and didn't even tell us to follow her when she walked off.  We arrived before the typical dinner crowd time, about 6pm, so the restaurant was fairly quiet.  Our hostess decides to seat us in the VERY corner of the restaurant.  My better half requested to her that we sit somewhere else, with a clear view of the bigscreen TVs to catch some Sunday football.  Without any verbal sign of agreement, she just walked us to another table.  Not exactly the welcome I was expecting.

The decor of the restaurant was done as an immitation of old saloon style with a modern twist, and a very TGI Friday's method of wall decor.  Random objects with a western theme were displayed all over the walls.  The walls were a rustic wood paneling, painted in the most despressing color of brown.  The lighting was poorly done, making the ambiance much more dreary.  At least the restaurant and tables were clean and neat.

Our waiter was another interesting character.  Better than our hostess, but that's not saying much.  He lacked confidence and basic customer service capabilities.  Greeting us in a rather drab manner, he took our orders.  We decided to try a couple of their signature burgers, the Western Burger, and the Blackjack Burger.  I was glad that our waiter asked us how we would like our burgers done, perhaps the only check-mark I could give for his service.  It was a long wait for our food considering that the restaurant was about 1/3rd full of customers.  They were small burgers and curly fries delivered in a plastic basket that I would usually see serving small portions of appetizers.  Not at all as they appeared on the menu.  The fries looked like something from a pre-cooked storebought product at your local grocer.  The buns were squished and as plain as the packaged buns you would find at the grocery store.  It reminded me of a McDonald's combo meal, but at least McDonald's has better fries.  I ordered the Blackjack burger, which came with onions, cheese, bacon, and their signature sauce.  The burger was chargrilled and well-done, not medium like I asked.  The burger has a little but of flavor, but I've had better at a drive-thru.  My better half ordered the Western Burger.  His burger was also overcooked, from a flat top and not chargrilled.  His burger has cheese, bacon, and something that looked and tasted like McDonald's special sauce.  Not very western if you ask me, and was completely flavorless.  Our fries didn't even taste like potatoes, moreso a vessel for frying oil.  When the waiter returned to check on us, my better half informed him about the burger being overcooked.  Instead of offering to take back the meal and offer something else, the waiter simply said, "Oh, I'm sorry about that," and walked off.

Feeling ripped off, my better half decided to speak with the manager.  The manager was understanding and tried to offer us something else to make our experience better, but the damage was done.  Thankfully, the manager at least removed the western burger from our bill.  We politely paid the balance and left.  Neither one of us finished our meal, we ate about one quarter of our meals at best.

I can't remember the last time I was this disappointed in a restaurant.  All the planets were in alignment  for culinary doom:  Poor service, poor food, poor design...thank goodness I didn't order a cocktail!  Buffalo's Southwest Cafe needs to ride off into the sunset.

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