Remington's was getting high marks in the Kansas City edition of the Zagat Survey as recently as 1997. Patrons said the dining room was "one of the finest hotel restaurants you'll find" and praised "the innovative menu." Three years later, the 2000 Zagat Survey dropped the restaurant completely.
And with good reason. The food quality had plummeted, and service was atrocious. I was actually thrilled to see that the place had closed for good.
As I've often said, hotel restaurants were once the best places to dine in any city, but they've lost much of their luster. The recently remodeled Skies at the Hyatt Regency and the Raphael Restaurant in the Raphael Hotel have some class, but the Hyatt's Peppercorn Duck Club needs a face-lift, and don't get me started about the wilted Lillies at the downtown Marriott or the second-rate reincarnation of the Pam Pam Room at the Muehlebach Hotel across the street.
A place I really liked, Phillips Chophouse in the Hotel Phillips ("Swap and Chop," June 10, 2003), has been getting a bad rep lately, mostly for hit-or-miss service. Well, that happens everywhere. But my friend Lorraine's recent Chophouse story was particularly hilarious: The waitress was absent for nearly the entire meal; Lorraine and her companion received three flavored butters but no rolls to spread them on, and her "twice-baked potato" was cold.
Even worse, she said, "The dining room was practically dead at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night." God only knows what the waitress was off doing (eating rolls, I bet). The manager had his own private hell dealing with a woman who appeared to be an employee's girlfriend -- or an ex -- who had arrived demanding to see him. When the manager refused, she repeatedly told him to "fuck off" in the middle of the dining room.
"That was so entertaining to watch," said Lorraine, "I forgot to complain."
Many new hotels aren't even bothering to put in restaurants. Perhaps they're taking a cue from places like Overland Park's 47-year-old White Haven Motor Lodge, which has never had a restaurant. Hungry patrons can walk across the street to Sonic Drive-In, where the service is always good.