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Flat Top Grill

Update: Flat Top is closed.

In a word: Even though it "shoots Coca-Cola", it doesn't quite "come together. Right now."

The specs: #0226
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Nutritilicious, WiSJ, Isthmus, Quomodocumque, Wisconsin Roaming, Ruppert Food Blog; official web site; Flat Top Grill on Urbanspoon

Latest Flat Top Grill news and reviews

JM and Nichole ate 3 servings of the make-your-own-stir-fry, one order of rangoon, a Coke and a strawberry lemonade.
The bill was $34, or $17/person, plus tip.
JM gave Flat Top Grill an A-; Nichole gave Flat Top Grill a B (see our grading rubric).

OK. So. Nichole has a bad history with make-your-own stir fry bars. She has a hard time getting behind the concept, for one thing - stir fry is possibly the cheapest, easiest, healthiest dish you can make from scratch. Furthermore, her first exposure to the idea was at the downtown Columbus bd's Mongolian BBQ during Origins, which meant the place was packed with ravenous gamer boys whose, er, how to put this delicately... who provided some of their own atmosphere. The showy sword-wielding at bd's seemed to appeal to a mostly male audience. And the whole idea of your dinner sitting out raw while crowds of passersby breathe on it seemed vaguely unhygienic (though it probably never killed anyone.)

JM, on the other hand, had no such compunctions.

On the night we went, Flat Top Grill had a steady stream of customers, more than half of whom were pairs or small groups of young women. The $2 college discount and the self-proclaimed "metro" drinks menu also spoke to a different kind of diner than a Mongolian horde - we saw fewer with pronounced stoutness about the tum, and virtually none with a predilection for little fur hats. The line cooks were tucked discreetly behind a semi-open cooking area, and the servers took our dishes to and from them, adding a smidge more formality to the experience.

Shrimp Ashley RangoonWe started off with an appetizer of "shrimp Ashley rangoon."  We thought 3 was a strange quantity for  appetizers to come in, and cold was a strange temperature for the middle of said appetizers, but the accompanying raspberry-jalepeno sauce was quite good.

It definitely helps to think about what you're going to put in your bowl before you head to the make-your-own-stir-fry line, especially if you're intimidated by too many choices. Otherwise you'll end up throwing some lamb and lima beans in a bowl and will have no one to blame but yourself.

As it was, we both ended up with serviceable stir frys. Nichole piled up brown rice, broccoli, peas, onions, and green peppers, put a dash of sesame oil on some chicken, added some coconut curry sauce, ginger water, and a dash of vindaloo, handed over her dishes to the line cooks, and it turned out fine.

Nichole's coconut curry

The tofu and bread are add-ons. The bread was a greasy approximation of nan that looked better than it tasted. Shrimp is also a no-cost add-on, which JM used to good effect in his peapod, chicken and broccoli concoction.

JM's second bowl

If you have a big appetite, you can get a better value here. One trip to the line was $13 (rather pricey for a stir fry), but unlimited trips were just $1 more, so JM went for seconds. His second bowl was some sort of beefy dish that left him stuffed.

Flat Top turned out to be better than we had anticipated. It seems to be an entertaining novelty destination for groups, a place where everyone can find something they like. Unless they don't like going out to make their own dinner.

Comments

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I would have given a "B" as well... It certainly is a good way to get those veggies in there.
And, that mango gingerale is so good.

Oof. I think they raised their (already formidable) prices. And do they still charge you an extra fee to take home leftovers?

I didn't notice - that would be disappointing (but not surprising).

The price on the menus and placemats didn't match when we went, so I think you're right about the recent increase.

The prices are a little steep. We went during lunch when the prices were more reasonable (I can't remember the difference).

I just had a horrible, horrible lunch there! What a disappointment. I waited over 40 minutes for my food to be stir-fried, and I couldn't get the attention of my waiter to go check and see what was wrong. When he finally came over, he shrugged and said, "oh, it takes a while". But more than 30 minutes had gone by, and the place wasn't crowded, and plenty of people who had come in later had already gotten their food. Finally, I found the hostess and she blew me off rudely. Eventually--45 minutes after I filled the stupid bowl, they brought my food. The squash was still raw, the beef was incredibly tough and nasty, the sauce was too sweet and also bitter, and the food had cooked down to a small little puddle. I was starving (and late for getting back to work) but I ate it anyway. Then it occurred to me that eating a bowl of raw meat that had been forgotten on a counter for 45 minutes might not exactly be safe, bacteria-wise. For $9 for inedible food, terrible rude service, and an excruciating wait, getting a little food poisoning only makes it yummier. Avoid this awful place!!!

well if you din't like it why the hell you ate the freaking bowl????
40 min??? you are crazy!!!!
i love FTG the best place ever!!!!!
MATT.

I love flattop!!!! The breakfast is also great :-)

It can be a hit or miss place. It is too expensive for dinner, but good for lunch if you eat 2-3 bowls.

The miss part is the rare event that you get a rude waiter or they misplace your food. You can literally come during lunch time and be the only the third table they have, and they can forget your food.

That only happens when your waiter doesn't check why your food hasn't come. But it has happened to me often enough, that I went from a regular to never going there anymore.

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