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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grill 'Em (if you know how and/or feel like it)

Recently visited Grill 'Em on south Bascom Ave in San Jose for a birthday event. After hearing a few open-ended stories about how neat and cool it was, I was anxious to try it out for myself. As you may be able to guess from the title and picture, it is a pay-us-for-the-food-but-cook-it-yourself kind of place. You can get the same kind of experience and some Korean BBQ Buffet houses on El Camino Real, Juicy Burger, Fuddruckers, and buffets that allow you to create your own flavor.

My dining partner, who normally prefers seafood or vegetarian style cuisine but makes exceptions for me, arrived a little early, so we got a chance to hang out and soak the place in. It really has a bar/pub atmosphere about it, with a small outdoor seating areas for smokers (and there are quite a few here, I guess not suprisingly), and very few windows, if any, to let in natural light. The decor is cool, with art works of local landmarks on the walls flancking the dining area. The is a large, prominant bar with plenty of neon, and the service is down-home. The main focus, obviously is the large open grill and hood assembly on which the steaks are cooked. All the spices and toppings are on a small table behind the grill, along with easy to read instructions on how to cook meat. Even with the large, clear print sign, I found it funny to see how many other people dining there that night did not follow them!

I was suprised to learn that only a small portion of the menu actually features food that you can cook yourself. All the burgers, chicken, and the like are prepared by the pros in the kitchen. This confused me a bit at first, since the draw of the place is getting to grill your own stuff, but when I saw how many people ignored the instructions, it's probably a good idea they hand the more complicated stuff.

All of us a the party sampled each others steaks, and found that the easist thing to screw up is the seasoning, too much or too little really affects the outcome of the meat. I think the best thing that came off the grill from our group was the garlic bread, which they allow you to throw on with everything else. I like my g-bread nice and crispy, and that is exactly how we made it. I believe this place take some practice to get right, and I will go back to try it again.

We had a party of about 10, and there were a few mix-ups with the orders, but managment were kind enough to adjust the bill and provide some freebies to offset them. The prices were reasonable and the service adequate. I recommend anyone who eats meat in the south bay to try it, and let me know if there are other places that do this also!

-Tom W Tell

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