Friday, August 15, 2014

Osage Restaurant at Top of the Rock in Branson, MO

I had been looking forward to visiting Top of the Rock since it reopened.  After seeing a Facebook stream of photos of people eating there, I just knew it would be a great place.  One of my good friends and I tried it out on one of our girls nights.
We arrived at the parking lot, but were confused as to where to go from there.  Turns out, you actually park at a different location than where the restaurant is.  After waiting a little while, you get on a shuttle and are dropped off at a location where you are, again, confused as to where to go.  You are informed that there are three restaurants at this location.  Since Top of the Rock Restaurant has been renamed the Osage Restaurant this made it further confusing.
Nevertheless, after all the hassle of arrival we were given a pager and assigned a 20-minute wait time for our table.  Our wait time was perfect.  We had enough time to walk around the facilities and explore, but not too much.  The life-size mammoth replication is extremely impressive; I stood there admiring it for several minutes.  The setting is beautiful, and the golf course the restaurant overlooks is meticulously kept up.  There is no wonder why people are getting their pictures taken here.  At a glance I recognized that this would be a popular wedding location for years to come.
We were seated around 35 minutes later, and the service was average.  It didn't take long to order, since the menu only has 10 entrees to choose from for dinner ranging in price from $21.00 to $44.00.  I did not find the prices problematic, since I think guests understand that the prices will be higher here and have appropriate expectations.  However, when they ask which salad you would like, you should be advised that salad is not included in your entree.  My suggestion to the restaurant is to go ahead and include the salad in the entree order, as well as to add more options to the entree menu.  Including the salad would be consistent with the price structure and expectations of guests in our part of the country.
After ordering, we received bread and a saucer with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Locals of Branson will remember the fresh bread and small decanters of oil and vinegar that was available to diners at the former Top of the Rock Restaurant.  Today's Osage Restaurant isn't quite the same.  We received a couple small, hard wheat rolls roughly 3" x 3" each and some seeded cracker bread.  Neither of the products had much flavor, and if the bread was baked fresh earlier you cannot tell it.  Gone are the warm, fresh breadsticks and unlimited oil and vinegar.  Even the oil and vinegar they gave us was carefully rationed out into one small saucer for us to split.  Don't double-dip!
While we were waiting for the entrees, the pleasant ambiance of the restaurant was interrupted when we were blasted overhead by American Indian music. As it turns out, they play this music at sunset every day and it is followed by a cannon blast.  I agree that the sentiment is nice, but the sound of the music itself is obnoxious.  Since our table was located directly under the speaker, this could not end fast enough.  When it was finally over, we sighed with relief and had a good chuckle.
I ordered "Our Signature Rotisserie Roasted All-Natural Chicken."  The description reminded me of an entree I ordered several years ago at the former Top of the Rock, and I was excited to have it again.  For the entree price of $27.00 I received exactly half of a chicken, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable medley.  The mashed potatoes were absolutely excellent, and the vegetable medley was good.  The chicken, however, was a disaster.  I was able to eat the leg and thigh, but the chicken was so tough and overcooked that I couldn't remove any of the chicken breast.  The skin was brittle and hard, which made which made it uncomfortable to swallow.  The plate the entree was served on was quite a bit smaller than plates used at other restaurants, and the portions of mashed potatoes and vegetable medley were too small while the chicken portion was entirely too big.
My friend ordered the pasta, and her portion was comparable to a child-size portion at Olive Garden.  The presentation for the pasta was lacking, and overall the meal itself was a disappointment.
In conclusion, the view from the restaurant is stunning.  The atmosphere at the restaurant (with exception to the sunset ritual) is perfectly right.  However, not being able to drive right up to the restaurant is a distinct drawback.  The limited menu options and inferior food make this a restaurant I cannot recommend right now.  I believe management will take notice of customer feedback and strive to improve the customer experience at Osage Restaurant.  I look forward to seeing the improvements, and would certainly consider visiting again if changes are made.

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