It’s a warmish spring evening. A man sits in front of a wig shop, playing an electric keyboard to the deserted patio next door. Inside, Park Place Bar and Grill is just as empty as its outdoor dining area. And after eating here, it’s clear why.
Located in Scottsdale Mall, home to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Park Place is less a restaurant, it turns out, than a chummy bar that serves food. Formerly the Orange Table, the restaurant was sold last summer and reopened in October as Park Place while Orange Table relocated to Tempe. Its new owner, Paul Mitchell of Scottsdale’s Old Town Tavern, remodeled the restaurant and expanded the bar and outdoor dining patio. Live music and an expanded specialty drinks menu were added to the mix. Orange Table made its name with one-of-a-kind dishes like chimichurri corned beef hash and flannels — sort of a down-home breakfast skillet meal — and many of these items remain on the revamped menu. They’ve been joined by others; nothing I tried is worth revisiting.
The generously sized baked Brie appetizer was only half-baked, in more ways than one. Cold in the middle, it came lightly clad in filo dough and accompanied by three tiny slices of toasted baguette — hardly enough to accommodate the eating of such a whopping slab of cheese. The paper-thin slices of green apple were too insubstantial to substitute for bread, once we ran out, so we gave up and moved on to an order of tin roofs. Would that we hadn’t. These were a revolting mishmash of sausage, ground beef, and cheese atop slices of baguette and covered in melted provolone — a sort of crostini for people who don’t like things that taste good. An incomprehensible dipping sauce of marinara clotted with red pepper was served alongside, perhaps because the tin roofs themselves were not horrifying enough.
A shrimp Caesar salad also was lousy. A half-dozen gummy, overcooked shrimp were piled atop chopped Romaine leaves tossed in a creamy but bland Caesar dressing. An order of onion rings was crisp and hot but proved too greasy to finish.
I braved the Arrogant Bastard Burger in part because it’s noted on the menu as a Park Place recommendation, and also because I figured, How badly can they screw up a hamburger? Rather badly, as it turned out: Dressed in a giant brown Romaine leaf and topped with under-ripe tomato slices and three hunks of rubbery bacon, the medium-rare beef patty was at least cooked to order. Drowned in a hickory-flavored sauce, these ingredients were crammed onto a greasy, flavorless bun. A side of limp, oily shoestring fries was dotted with Parmesan. These were cold.
The same sad frites accompanied the green chili chicken melt, another annotated entrée, this time as a “Park Place Favorite.” Whose? I wondered after attempting to eat one. A nicely grilled chicken breast was stifled by a huge roasted green chile pepper and slippery melted cheddar. The promised mayonnaise was nowhere to be found, but the toasted bun was already slimy without it.
I returned to Park Place for breakfast, which began with a weak-as-water, in-name-only iced coffee; our waitress had clearly just dumped hot coffee over ice. My companion ordered a tropical blend iced tea that tasted freshly brewed and neatly fruity. Neither was refilled for us during an interminable meal of also-ran breakfast dishes.
The Park Place eggs Benedict benefited from nicely crunchy, housemade patties of spicy chorizo, which proved to be the only pleasant part of this miserable plate. The subtle flavor of avocado was obscured by the sausage and made the English muffin mushy. A side of spongy, under-salted potatoes added further insult.
An order of red flannel was even less appetizing. Beets added nothing good to this hash of potatoes and corned beef; it was gritty and cold. It came with a pair of eggs, ordered over-easy; they were cooked over-medium.
Bananas Foster French toast came accompanied by a tasty pair of pork sausages, but the dish itself was an epic failure. Rubbery slices of French bread and anemic chunks of banana were glopped with a runny spiced-rum pecan sauce that made soggy a meager sprinkling of pecan pieces. I managed three bites before calling for a plain pancake, which seemed like a safe bet. It wasn’t. Park Place’s pancake was leaden and cold, uncooked in the middle and damp with melted butter.
Our surly waitress, clad in T-shirt and sweatpants and distracted by a pair of side-by-side large-screen televisions blasting the same rugby match, left dirty plates on our tiny two-top throughout our meal. No matter. We won’t be back. The next time I want greasy, ill-prepared food, I’ll make my own.
Park Place Bar and Grill
7373 East Scottsdale Mall #6, Scottsdale
Hours: 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday; 7 a.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
Red flannel $11
Baked Brie $10
Caesar with shrimp $14