Friday, May 18, 2012

Another Vote For Rudy's Doner Kebab -- And News About The Menu And Upcoming Falafel

Doner platter at Rudy's
When I eat meat, I want something special on the plate, and Rudy's Mediterranean Grill in Columbia roasts doner kebab that made my cut with its crisp edges and rich flavor.  HowChow reader Rob stopped by recently to enjoy a meal and chatted with Rudy himself.  Rob learned that Rudy has a Turkish brunch on Sundays.  He also got another lesson for eaters that discount sites are a complex issue for restaurants -- and some news about falafel:
I stopped in after having purchased a Groupon ($15 for $30 in food).  By the way, something to remember that I keep forgetting is that Groupons are usually for dine-in only.  I spoke with Rudy for a few minutes.  He is a little distressed about the Groupon deal.  He wanted Groupon to sell perhaps 50 per week, not the approximately 600 they sold for Rudy's all at once. According to Rudy, he can only recoup his food cost on the $30 Groupons, but he actually loses on the $60 Groupons, so he is concerned about the number sold. 
Rudy is a very energetic, engaging guy.  He was very happy to talk about how the place is developing.  He brought me a bowl of red lentil soup while we sat at the bar and talked.  On tI tried the spanakopita (spinach pie on the menu), the doner kebab, and the izgara kofte.   
Next time, I'll probably skip the spanakopita.  The filo was soggy and a tad burnt on top.  But the  the doner kebab was probably as good as you are going to find in this state.  The lamb was moist and had the taste you expect in a doner or gyro.  Rudy pays a special chef who prepares his doner for the spit and also serves as a line cook.  He does not allow his other cooks to do anything other than slice the lamb for serving. The izgara kofte is a little different than kofte I have tried before, but is very good.  He puts peppers in the meat, so the kofte has a kick.  Other places put the meat on a skewer so it comes out elongated when pulled off.  Rudy's kofte are like small hamburger patties.  I recommend it. 
I also talked to Rudy about the menu.  Seems I am not the only one who wants to see only Turkish dishes on it.  Rudy has American fare on the menu in order to capture as much of the lunch crowd as possible from the surrounding businesses.  I think he believes a Turkish-only menu would not do that for him.  However, as a result of comments from many customers, especially those who have visited Turkey or lived there, Rudy is going to split the menu.  In the mornings, the usual American breakfast dishes will be there.  At lunch, American and Turkish will be represented.  And Rudy will have a Turkish menu in the evening.  Rudy also plans to bring falafel to the menu in June due to numerous requests.
Rudy's is a place worth trying, but check out comments and Yelp to see what you think you would like.  Kevin wrote a comment this morning that discussed which dishes his family enjoyed and which dishes disappointed them.  Kevin's wife actually thought the doner was bland.


Ken Oh said...

Every time I see that place, all I can think is "Donner Party Kebab". I feel it's unfair because I've never even been there.

bmorecupcake said...

I usually avoid places with menus this extensive because it's pretty much impossible, in my opinion, to properly execute every menu item. The spanakopita sounds like it was frozen, or at the very least reheated, which is a universal issue with spanakopita and why I've stopped ordering it. I called Rudy's the other day and had a strange conversation with whoever picked up. As a "control" question I asked if their doner was beef or lamb, and was told beef. Not sure what to make of it.

bmorecupcake said...

We were driving by today and picked up an Iskender Kebab to go. Definitely lamb. It was about $15. The meat was excellent as was the yogurt sauce. The tomato sauce was good, but maybe a little bit too much of it for my tastes. I love the concept of the pita bread soaking up all the juices, but unfortunately our pita was stale. It did show promise and I would love to go back and taste the homemade pita when it is fresh. I wish they gave an extra grilled pepper or two with it. The mushroom soup that came with it was not good at all. Tasted like watered down canned soup with parsley added. I will go for the lentil soup next time. We had some lettuce handy and used it to wrap up the meat into little wraps and dip into the yogurt.

Also got some shrimp tacos ($2.25 each) and strawberry shake ($2) from R&R nearby. The shrimp tacos were very good: a generous serving of well-cooked shrimp, grilled onions, and cilantro. They forgot lime and sauce with my order, but that was quickly remedied. Although I did find myself using our handy lettuce to lighten it up a bit.

Lesson: Never leave home without lettuce.

dzoey said...

After reading this entry the kids and I headed over there for lunch. We got the hummous which came with great pita bread, a turkey club wrap and a donner wrap. The donner wrap was almost all shaved lamb and could have used more veggies. Since not everyone is adventurous, I was glad to see a large American section on the menu.
The soups were good in concept, flawed in execution. I liked that they didn't use cream to thicken it, but using flour pebbles works well only if the flour fully dissolves in the soup, and these didn't. My son didn't care for th lentil soup until he started dipping some pita bread into it and then he really liked it.

JR said...

We ate at Rudy's last night. All I can say is that I was not impressed by the food. The lentil food was ok at best. It tasted like watered down canned soup. We ordered a Moussaka and Rudy’s Shish Kebab Combo. The chicken and the lamb in the Shish Kebab tasted bland and the rice was regular white rice. The Moussaka was just ok. I was surprised by the lack of flavor in the food.
The waitress said that they are changing the menu. I really hope the change in the menu improves the food. I doubt it though.

Guy Timberlake said...

We learned about Rudy's here and decided to give them a try. We ordered carryout the first time because it was late enough when we decided and it wasn't prudent to take our two year old out. We had the Lamb Adana and Iskender Kabob along with Dolma and it was all fantastic. Good enough in fact that we could not wait to dine-in with them. That happened this evening and it turned out to be an absolute disaster.

When we arrived, there were maybe twenty guests in the restaurant (being generous). After we were seated, we asked the hostess if she could bring us some milk for our daughter which she acknowledged and said she would bring it right out. After asking two more times over a fifteen minute period, we finally did get it from a young woman who turned out to be our server.

Our food order was taken about ten minutes after we were seated and we ordered the Dolma, Iskender Kabob and the Kabob Combo.

Cutting to the chase, our entrees did not arrive for an hour and right before they did, we had to ask for them to be boxed as our daughter was starting to get restless and was hungry (all she had was applesauce from mommy's bag and the bread they brought to the table).

In addition to the length of time it took for food to come out (since we arrived and had placed our orders, the crowd had increased) the staff were clearly "in the weeds" and disorganized. Don't get me wrong, our server was extremely pleasant and apologetic for what was going on so it wasn't like we had bad service from her. There seemed to be a complete failure of their system (if they had one to begin with) as the view from our table was that of a restaurant not at all prepared for customers.

The most visible and vocal figure (a man we assume is Rudy) was working hard to make things happen. The big fail for him was when an elderly gentleman was returning to his seat (he was a little frail and moved at a slower pace) "Rudy" came up behind him carrying two drinks and effectively (vocally) shoved the patron our of the way with a gruff and discourteous "Behind you, behind you, behind you!" to which the elderly patron acknowledged him and did his best to get out of his way. Basically "Rudy" was a jerk to his customer.

That on top of the kitchen failure to get food out in an hour (only to get home and find out the chicken on the kabob combo was undercooked and the only vegetables on the kabob were two small pieces of onion), and the ten plus minutes it took them to return my credit card and check to me so we could get home to feed our daughter has resulted in our completely writing of Rudy's as a place we'll patronize again.

Morty Abzug said...

I do carryout from Rudy's fairly often. I've had some problems with the person not understanding the order, or saying parts of it are not available. But on the whole, they've done a good job. The doner/shwarma in particular is outstanding. The sigara boregi is quite tasty. The doner platter comes with fries (what?) but they're pretty open to substitutions. The pita is forgettable.

Morty Abzug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morty Abzug said...

As of earlier in the week, Rudy's is apparently less open to substitutions. The lady who gave me my order said that she was the wife of the owner and they don't want to substitute eggplant. My bill was somewhat higher than usual.

I'm disappointed, and will be taking them off my regular rotation.

Anonymous said...

Rudy is tries to be friendly but crosses the boundary a few times and gets a little inappropriate. Laments about how customers are unwilling to pay for his special events.

Anonymous said...

Iskender is an honest attempt at the real thing, with real meat and wonderful yogurt sauce and pita base but the roasted meat is sliced a tad too thick, does not develop flavor from roasting and the tomato sauce on top is very weak. Wouldn't order it again. But gives me hope for other items on the menu. Will work my way through lahamacun, sucuk pide, musaka, imam bayildi before I try the meats again. Lentil soup was the real deal.