Huntington Beach, CA – Stacked opens in Huntington Beach! Well actually they did it a little while ago, they just never gave me a reason to go. With all of the new shops and restaurants pooping up at Bella Terra just across the street, the old Michaels center needed to do something to keep customers. Pauls TV left and the place was just getting run down. The pad where Stacked sits was just collecting homeless.
After Rack opened and a face lift gave new life to the main buildings, Stacked showed up and finally fixed up the old ah, well it was closed so long I can’t remember what it was restaurant pad. Needless to say it took a while for me to drop in to Stacked for dinner and a review. The Wine Down Wednesday sign with 50% off glasses of wine caught my wife’s eye so we stopped in.
Right off the bat we noticed the iPad ordering system. So far we haven’t had a good experience with one. I won’t name the last place we went where we got the wrong drinks and food and when they “corrected” our bill it went way up. Stacked Huntington Beach was better but still not all it could or should be.
Stacked is “Food Well Built” according to their signs and website. The woman who seated us said it was about food being customized. Confusing at first, but you’ll get it quickly. After sitting down, the standard first question came up, “Can I get you anything to drink?”.
Who Takes Your Order?
Now I am confused, do I order through the server/seater or the iPad. What ensued was the server attempting to give a brief lesson on iPad use. If you need a lesson, the app needs work. And I didn’t need a lesson and the app still needs work.
More confusing is that the server handed us menus. Very large picture filled menus. Using the menu we decided we wanted to try a few things. After Carls Jr. quit serving sweet potato fries we have been looking for a new place to get our fix. Stacked had it. But wait there is no pricing on the menu. How much are the sweet potato fries?
It turns out the first page is a full page explanation that you pay for only what you order and everything you order. Agile for those fries, extra. If a la carte made it actually cost less I’d be all over it, but here it just added up to more. Clearly the bill would be “Stacked”.
While we were figuring out the menu options and reading about the “no price” policy, we were admiring the decor. High ceilings, great audio system, and a rustic look gave the place a very comfortable yet eclectic feel. We both liked it.
In addition to sweet potato fries we ordered wings and a burrito, two things that need to be good in any beer bar.
After entering the order on the iPad, the food came out in the correct order with good timing. This was impressive given we ordered sort of piecemeal.
First were the drinks, followed shortly by the wings and fries. We ponied up for the Butternut Aioli and ketchup or is it catsup? And what is Aioli anyway? Flavored Mayonnaise?
The sweet potato fries arrived warm, crisp and light. Not greasy. The Aioli had a nice flavor and texture that paired quite well with the sweet potato fries. They were almost perfect.
The Rest Of The Food
The wings were naked and grilled, just the way I (normally) like them. But in this case they were chewy like they were cooked earlier and microwaved. The plate was warm and the ranch dip was hot as well, making it the consistency of water.
Finally the burrito came. We ordered the gluten free tortilla which sometimes is corn, other times it is a rice-tapioca mix. If you have had gluten free pizza, that what this tasted like. Not bad, but it wasn’t wet like the picture. The spicy sauce we ordered on the side had a great flavor, but otherwise the burrito was very bland and lukewarm. Gluten Free will do that though.
We asked the server how to order it “a mojado” or “wet” like the picture on the paper menu. She said, “Well you really can’t you just have to tell us.” Huh? Then why did I need the iPad?
Time To Pay?
When it came time to pay this is where I am really confused. Order yourself on the iPad, they deliver like McDonalds does now and there is a tip window. Ok they were nice, let’s see what this does…
Now before I describe the screen, let me say that having never been in any job where tips are normal or “expected” I don’t know if I am cheap, nice or the sucker they love to see. It’s not like restaurants post the stats at the door. “Our average tip is 14.775%, how will you tip?”
I just know that as a kid, American Express sent out a tip card and it said “Average Service – 8%, Good Service 10%, Great Service 15%”. My Dad and grandfather never used it. My grandfather once handed me the bill, and said “Quick, 10% tip”. He then looked and said “Move the dot one to the left. Good service a little more, bad service a lot less and laughed.” He designed jets with a slide rule, calculators were for dummies in his world.
These days when I go to a place like Marche’ in Boston or the Spa at Disneyland Resort and they add 10% automatically without telling me upfront and then list out tips at 15%,18% and 20% I know I am a cheap tipper, because I won’t give you 10% plus 20% when I serve myself nor will I let a spa add fees without telling me so that automatic 10% comes out of my normal tip. I still want to know how 15% for Great service slid to 30%? So maybe I am cheap.
When I touched the tip icon on the iPad brings up two options, % or $. For fun I click % and get a huge list. 10% 15% 20% 25% and 30% are all listed. This makes no sense to me. Does the restaurant think that people will tip more for ordering at an iPad? Do they think many will tip less? My guess is that more people will lean back to the old 10% when any kind of self service is involved. It is the reason Golden Corral and Sizzler exist. A buck or two on the table for cleaning the table and refilling your soda.
So I ended up going back to the $ entry and putting in my own tip. Maybe low, maybe high, I’ll never know. With all the great food options in HB, Stacked has a lot to keep up with. But my real question is how to you tip?