The Machine Shed 

To start, we visited this staple Urbandale restaurant as a farewell brunch for my brother. Eighteen and leaving for the United States Army in two days. My son and I arrive at the restaurant ten minutes before our scheduled time. Driving through the crowd of potential diners I came to realize how incredibly awful this Sunday experience was going to be.

For starters, the line was already out the door at 10:30 in the morning. For once in my life I felt thankful my family knew how to navigate suburban culture. Still, as it happened our 10:00 reservation had been pushed back until approximately 11 due to “an unexpected crowd.” I’ve worked in service and retail industries most of my life. I know a polite lie when I heard one. Apparently this dining icon was aware they are an attraction and was also aware we’d wait like the capitalist slaves we are. I was having a hard enough time keeping myself entertained for our “unexpected” wait, let alone my son who is “passing three and one half,” as he is opt to tell.

So in the foyer we waited. We waited. We waited while the most suburbanly bland people waited with us. I mocked the faux redneck merchandise with my farm child brother and sister. My son pointed out the clocks to us….incessantly. Thank goodness he’s got my charisma, otherwise I would have left with him to eat at the Denny’s or Perkins nearest to us. If you caught the difference in the time of our arrival to the supposed seat time well, it must have been known by my more suburban family. My inclination into the inner workings of Caucasian culture are limited.

After the incredibly obvious time making us wait in a room filled with overpriced tchotchkes we found our table. I mean tables. I mean it was literally two large round tables placed in the corner of this restaurant that habitually hosted large groups in the most uncomfortable manner. A group of over 12 people should never be sat in two round tables in the corner, especially when over half of us chose the buffet. The entire meal was spent jostling for someone to get by, even from those of us in the aisle. The wait staff constantly slamming into the backs of our chairs inflicted a new level of rage in my person.

However, I will admit that those who ordered off the menu rather than the buffet of five selections received the most wonderful looking food. My grandmother’s Reuben looked phenomenal. My uncle’s open faced meatloaf sandwich with mashed potatoes and beef gravy made me desire his untimely death so I could eat it. But with a toddler in tow, my choice was to immediately feed the child who had been denied breakfast.

In finality, my review of this locally famous restaurant is horrid. This is not my only poor experience here either (9 years old, ordered a burger, it came out still frozen twice in a row). Honest, if it had not been to bid my brother farewell, I would have stayed home and eaten higher quality food from my freezer.

Atmosphere: Highly suburban, pretentious faux farm and horribly cramped.

Food: Overpriced for the buffet, but off the menu delectable.

Positives: The wait staff is used to uncomfortably crying children and helps quiet that commotion, adequate Bloody Mary’s, reasonable pricing for reasonable portions.

Negatives: Too many people. It isn’t a small restaurant though the rotation through a table is quite slow for the amount of wait time. Buffet food is poor quality for the price, as well as the poor selection. Being the only person there not wearing khakis, a polo and sporting long hair with a male toddler wearing nail polish I never felt comfortable with the staff or other patrons. Our large table size seemed to inconvenience the staff, other patrons and our own table.

Truthful, I’m white but this place felt more like an audition for a country club than the upscale dining establishment it advertises as. Decent food, but you’ll pay more with your pride than pocketbook.


-Ty Clark

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