That Food Guy
Friday, June 22, 2012
  Ross Park Drive In - Pocatello, Idaho

Ross Park Drive In
2340 S 2nd Ave Pocatello, ID 83204

During my first trip to Pocatello, Idaho, many, many years ago, my sister took me to the Ross Park Drive In for a burger and fries. Memory always recalled the burgers as a bit special, perhaps a cut above the usual chain store burgers. With that in mind, these many years later, we went to the Ross Park Drive In for a hamburger and fries. On the corner the streets cross at an angle and the corner where the drive in is located juts out making a triangular plot. It has been a fixture in Pocatello for many years. Open seasonally, it serves fast foods to the locals and visitors to the nearby Ross Park. Although called a drive in, it doesn’t offer car-hop service, it is walk up window instead. It frequently serves a hangout for local teenagers though it does offer limited parking.

The Idaho afternoon sun was fierce as we waited in line. Our turn at the order window was next. The order was straight forward: two double cheeseburgers, one without sauce and one with everything, one double hamburger with everything, one large French fries, one Tater Tots, one onion rings and one small Coke. The clerk seemed to have a bit of trouble getting it all noted correctly. We sought the comfort of the shade provided by a large tree while we waited for our order to be completed. The small patio was shaded and although the direct sun was fierce, the shaded area would have made a comfortable place to eat the meal.

Our name was called and we carried the food to the car. Something didn’t seem right; perhaps the bag too small? Then it dawned on us. There two Cokes instead of one. We checked the bag. There were the three burgers, one onion rings and one Tater Tots, but no French Fries. Sister went back to the order window. The clerk was rude and told her she got what she ordered. He didn’t offer any apology for the mis-order or even offer to correct it. Rather than argue and make a scene and prolong our wait in the hot sun we took what we did have home.

Eagerly, we all gathered around the dining room table. The foil-wrapped burgers were not identified. We had to unwrap and pry open the sandwich to see who got what. The burgers are reminiscent of the roadside diners of a bygone era. Griddle cooked burger patties, the buns toasted on the back of the grill, and when assembled, a few moments under a dome on the grill to steam them. Perhaps it was just the foil wrap that didn’t allow the moisture to escape. The result is a slightly damp and wrinkled bun, cooked lettuce and the sandwich pretty much glued together. We doled out the sandwiches and put the onion rings and Tater Tots in the center of the table. Each hamburger came with a small Solo cup of dressing much like Thousand Island.

The appearance notwithstanding, the proof of the product is in the taste. As we ate our meal we traded words back and forth looking for just the right word to describe the hamburgers. The best we could come up with was just adequate. Not bad burgers but certainly nothing special. The quality of the burgers seems to have deteriorated over the years. They certainly were not what we remembered. The Tater Tots were just that - Tater Tots and the onion rings were the good
 kind made with rings of real onion, not the mashed, processed and formed kind. The serving size of the Tater Tots and onion rings was small for the price.

Not much further away in the opposite direction are a McDonalds and a Burger King. Their comparable burgers are much better than the Ross Park Drive In. Although you still have to check your order at the drive-thus, they will correct the order and, with a smile, bid you to come again. In summation, the local chain drive-thru restaurants offer a better product as well as better and kinder service. Perhaps one day Ross Park Drive In will turn around and upgrade their product and service to the way it once was. Unfortunately, we’ll never know because we won’t be back to see.

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Maybe instead of trying the burger as it would be the same as any other burger form a chain or NOT a chain restaurant, you should of grown up a little bit and tried the infamous Taco Spaghetti.
Thank you Ondine An Angel for taking the time to visit my blog. It is always a pleasure to have new readers.
Secondly, I hope that you would read the blog in its entirety. It is pretty clear, quite evident, that we went to Ross park Drive In to reprise previous good experiences. We went for an excellent Ross park ‘burger, not for a McDonalds, a Buger King, a White Castle, a Wendy’s or even a Red Robin.
The benchmark for the visit was what had come before. In this respect, Ross Park failed and failed miserably. The food was poor in all aspects, preparation, quality and presentation. The service was totally out of line, totally inappropriate; rude to the max and argumentative without cause.
I do try many other foods. But, hamburgers are a favorite go out treat and also a good test of the prowess of a food café or diner. If you can’t make a decent ‘burger I am definitely not interested in any other offerings you may have swept off the floor in the kitchen.
In conclusion I wrote that I would have been better off going to McDonalds, or a Buger King, etc., not because I wanted a fast-food emporium ‘burger, but in comparison I would have been better off going there for a known quality standard, some semblance of decent service and, If I did indeed have an issue, someone would have listened and most likely made it right. It was as simple as that. The exceptional Ross Park ‘Burger of yore is nothing but a myth. Why waste time seeking what you cannot find?

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