© 2014 by Ken Peng & Ken Eats, LLC. Title image courtesy of Jesse Adrian Scanlon Media.

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One Love Cafe

September 21, 2014

 

One Love Café was just one big disappointment (brace yourselves, the “one” puns will keep coming). Located at 4989 NW 40th Place, in the Magnolia Park plaza, I was long curious to try this restaurant ever since I spotted construction in the back of a large empty field. I found their choice of location to be odd, so it piqued my intrigue. But hey, Positive Ken will start with the positive.

 

The menu is basic, a couple of salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, and some rotating specials. Nothing to write home about, but in a world where restaurant menus can read like a novel, this is a welcome sight. Oh, and contrary to what your brain may infer, this is not a Jamaican restaurant. What also stands out about this restaurant is the dining room, it’s minimal to the point where IKEA would be proud. The restaurant itself is extremely small, there are three 4-top tables inside, a bar that seats seven, five beers on tap, and some more in bottles. Several large French doors open up to an outdoor area with ample seating, fire pit, projector screen, tiki bar, and a small stage. It’s a cool concept. Tropical drinks outdoor, live music, showing movies on the lawn, I get it. But…

 

What is the point? In a city where most of the year is either extremely hot or pretty darn cold, it would be difficult to make use of this space on a regular basis. When it’s neither scathing hot or freezing cold, there’s torrential downpour, which the owners clearly took into account when they made the bathrooms only accessible from the outside. That’s right, to get to the bathrooms, you have to walk out the doors, around the building, and to the back. What?

 

Then there’s the food. While the BBQ Pork Sandwich ($9 – roasted pork topped with homemade pickles, pineapple-cilantro coleslaw, and a side of baked beans) sounded pretty good, the rest of the menu (Caprese salad, Cheesesteak Flatbread, Sliders) just sounded boring. So my date and I decided to order off the specials menu. I went with the Handchopped Burger ($10.50 – white cheddar cheese, pickle chip, served with crispy red potato rounds) and she went with the Carne Salad ($10.50 – cucumber, tomato, arugula, spinach, corn, gorgonzola, toasted pecans, asparagus, and sliced steak in a mushroom-Worcestershire vinaigrette). At the urging of our cashier (you pay first and then eat), we also ordered a Steak Pesto Flatbread ($12 – sliced sirloin, housemade pesto, jack cheese, arugula, tomato).

 

That’s when everything went downhill.

 

My burger was…unevenly seasoned? Some bites tasted like unseasoned ground beef, while others tasted like I bit into a pillar of salt. Oh, and I couldn’t wash it down because there are no refills on sodas. The crispy red potato rounds were not crispy, and the 4 small clumps on my tray were actually severely undercooked. The Carne Salad was a complete disaster; the beef wasn’t seasoned and was absolutely not sliced sirloin. It looked like hastily grilled flank steak that was served in piled mess, and just looked completely unappetizing. The veggies were fresh, but that’s the only positive I could find. The flatbread? Same disgusting “sliced sirloin” that was overcooked, unseasoned, and thrown onto a store-bought piece of flatbread with some vegetables. It was soggy, flavorless, and just disgusting. I spent over $40 on our meal, and was extremely dissatisfied.

 

To make matters worse, the owner came out to ask us about our food and offered no reconciliation to the fact that we were completely dissatisfied. Not that I look for anything free, but customer service 101 states: do something for your unhappy customers who spent good money at your restaurant. We were merely offered an apology for her not being around to supervise her cooks, and a request for us to come back and grow with them. If only I had one incentive to come back…

 

All is not lost though. Their beer prices are reasonable ($4 to $6) and include some local brews. In an area where there isn’t much to choose from in the way of watering holes, this isn’t a bad place to enjoy a brew or watch a game. During the nice times of the year, it would be a nice place to enjoy an outdoor picnic with drinks while watching a movie on the projection screen. It’s a family friendly environment that contains ample parking and seating.

 

Their slogan is “good food, good vibes”, but other than a corny story on their website about how the owners met (nothing to do with the restaurant), and some cool potential with the outdoor area, I can only say…good try…

 

 

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