By: Keith Bennett
Review Date: 06-21-14
STAFF REVIEW: Earlier this evening, the first day of summer, June 21 2014, 8 of us who were in Laughlin Nevada for The Beach Boys concert. Because we had a decent lunch experience at the Loading Dock Bar & Grille 3 months earlier on March 28th, we planned to have an early dinner at The Loading Dock at 6:30 PM. The concert was at 8:00 PM at the E-Center at The Edgewater, a short walk from the Loading Dock at the Colorado Belle.
A few of us checked the current Yelp reviews and found a half dozen ho-hum reviews prior to our last visit and about 17 newer HO-HUM reviews between our March visit and today. Because 6 of the 8 of us call the Edgewater/Belle properties one of our regular hotel/casinos while staying on the Laughlin Strip, most of us really WANTED this new restaurant to do well by us and all Laughlin visitors.
This new restaurant is so well ‘thought out’ featuring indoor and outdoor seating; indoor and outdoor bars, and live entertainment with the Colorado River as a the backdrop to the outdoor stage, all The Loading Dock has to do is deliver some decent food and service to make a huge success here.
As Laughlin regulars we witnessed the closing of 3 restaurants in the Edgewater and most restaurants in the Colorado Belle’s ‘restaurant row’ on “C Deck,” the floor immediately above the casino (B Deck). The Loading Dock was obviously built to fill in the vacuum as a result of all of the now-closed restaurants. Moreover, this new venue was built at considerable expense as evidenced by the attention to detail in the design and roll out that includes considerable digital and print media promotion by the very talented marketing team that I assume was installed by SPB Partners & Marnell Sher Gaming, LLC. One can only assume the on-site management team wants a successful restaurant. I was confident that our visit today would result in a terrific review that would offset the overwhelming flood of so-so reviews.
Unlike other reviewers, we stood in line only a short while on this busy Saturday. The host/est staff did a fair job of getting our party of 8 seated outside in about 20 minutes. Similar to some Yelp reviewers, we too witnessed a fair amount of chit-chat among the host staff – it seems that the “well-oiled machine” other reviewers hoping will develop here has not yet happened. Outside, there are smaller aluminum tables that each seat 2 people facing each other that are easily pushed together to seat whatever size party presents themselves – a clever and adaptable strategy.
Our wait staff was headed up by Mark, who was both attentive and experienced. There seems to be a team approach to drinks and complimentary tortilla chips & salsa. Unfortunately, we were served only one pizza pan-like plate of chips & salsa for 8 diners seated over 4 tables pushed together. There was a marginal trio as the “live entertainment” and though we were easily 80 feet away, you’d need to text or call your table mates at the other end of the 4 tables in order to communicate with the noise levels. We had to repeatedly ask for a 2nd serving of complimentary chips. Why? (1) The platter was reachable to only 4 of our party of 8 and any casual observation by the wait staff might suggest that 2 servings would be the minimum, and (2) I had just read the YELP reviews and was expecting a 20 to 30 minutes wait for food and I wanted everyone to have something to nibble on to pass the time without starting to become vocal about the wait time for food. I assume the management would agree. If so, they just need to share this delaying tactic to their staff…
We start with an “A” Review – 5 Stars
Attention to Details – We got off to a rocky start. Two of our party had dirty silverware. That made me cringe. But hey! It happens — right? I am not one to drag down a review over something that we have all experienced at all but the pickiest and most expensive restaurants. The Loading Dock is not positioning its BRAND as would the Picasso at the Bellagio (a restaurant the Belle/Edgewater management should be acquainted with in spirit, if not with a personal visit). I would never EXPECT dirty silverware at Las Vegas’s Picasso, Marché Bacchus, or Le Cirque; or even Saltgrass, The Gourmet Room or The Range Steakhouse here in Laughlin where management wants to protect and grow those brands with good oversight and cooperation of the kitchen and front-line staff. Since we were seated next to a small station next to the door separating the inside from outside, I took care of finding clean replacements. So, given The Loading Dock’s customer demographic, they still have an “A’ – a 5-STAR review considering some troubling silverware that escaped scrutiny- still theirs’ to lose. I remained optimistic.
Unfortunately, The Loading Dock’s 5-Star “A” Review was Immediately Forfeited
When our 2nd chips & garnish was served we were presented a stack of 8 bread-sized plates which was thoughtful EXCEPT THAT 2 plates were NOT CLEAN – one dramatically NOT CLEAN. My ‘mental cringe’ over the food-encrusted silverware has now gone off the charts to stomach-churning-nauseated. This was the 2nd in-my-face example of LACK of attention to detail by the dish-washing crew that could have been salvaged without us knowing by conscientious and observant wait staff – but wasn’t. Sadly… I was thinking the Hotel/Casino is lucky I was not Ron White waiting to perform at a the E-Center or Aquarius amphitheater – because as Sears NOW KNOWS, that could get UGLY!
Dirty Silverware AND Dirty Plates – While, I am NOT Ron White, they deserve to be called out. Multiple in-house failures that make it to the patrons and we have yet to consider the food. This is now a ‘B’ – a 4-STAR review. But… I am still hopeful and crossing my fingers.
NOTE: I have a friend who’s company installs flooring in hotels, casinos, and restaurants such as Chili’s, The Cheesecake Factory, The Elephant Bar, Hooters, and California Pizza Kitchen. To hide stains and “boo-boos” the carpet (called: Hospitality Carpet) installed in such venues is purposefully BUSY. Look at the carpet in your casino or hotel room. Those busy patterns hide the blemishes and horrors from the past. As our meals were served on the Loading Dock plates with that “busy food-particle-like pattern” we all wondered if that pattern was specifically chosen to hide the encrusted food from prior diners? We are now apprehensive patrons.
We simply couldn’t help but wonder what was under our food that we couldn’t know and couldn’t see. Those of us with sandwiches were spared the close inspection jitters and just hoped that our brown paper was new and clean. It was disturbing that we had to think these thoughts and have those conversations rather than just look forward to enjoying an evening meal before The Beach Boys’ concert.
The 7 entrees we ordered from The Loading Dock’s Menu
The eight of us ordered the following with each person’s 1-5 STARS “evaluation” and comments:
- BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich – $11.99
[3 stars: bun fresh, pork OK, fries that were amazing in March now stale, maybe reheated; ho-hum]
CLICK on any entree to ENLARGE
- Hot Lobster Roll – $14.99
[2 stars: Roll fresh, lobster tasteless and rubbery, fries good]
- Tortilla Soup – $4.99
[2 stars: thick as re-fried beans – no broth – we all agreed it was like “bean dip,” she left it uneaten, no waiter inquiry as to why not eaten; we paid for it]
NO PICTURE – Looked like Frito Bean Dip in a Can!
- Tequila Lime Chicken Breast – $14.99
[2 stars: free range chicken turned out to be ho hum, little flavor]
- (#5 & #6 shared) Carne Asada Tacos – $14.99
[2 stars: meat was tasty, shells were soggy making eating tacos a falling-apart messy chore, same ho-hum guacamole and salsa that comes with “complementary” chips, rice was OK, beans – meh]
- Spicy Chicken Alfredo – $14.99
[2 stars: there was no “spicy” in the “Spicy Chicken Alfredo” – it was bland and tasteless, and our dining companion couldn’t help but comment on the minuscule portion size – see picture]
- NY Steak Sandwich – $14.99
[2 stars: tough, boring, he had to find bottle of A-1 sauce to make it work]
Overall Evaluation of The Loading Dock Bar & Grille
If you think like YELP 1-to-5 Stars – then this June 2014 dining experience deserves 2-STARS We are Edgewater/Belle regulars when here in the Tri-State area. We WANT this venue to ROCK! But, for us, The Loading Dock Bar & Grille doesn’t yet live up to the print and digital hype. The staff apparently does not care. The staff is apparently not motivated to open their eyes to have checks and balances on the dish-washing crew allowing disturbing hygiene issues to be set in front of diners: IN YOUR FACE. The food is presented nicely but falls short of being satisfactory for the prices charged. The tab totaled a moderate $140 (no alcohol). (Another $40 bucks and we could have a marvelous dining experience at several Laughlin Strip choices.) While it was a Saturday, at 6:30 PM the restaurant was not full by any means, and still it took 1 hour from stepping up to an empty hostess kiosk and a sea of empty tables to our entrees being delivered. We experienced inexcusable attention to detail (dirty silverware and plates – a demerit for ANY restaurant patron) and the food, while well-presented was bland and BORING at best. Our server, Mark, was the only positive thing about this visit to the very lovely restaurant that cannot yet find its way.
Patrons seem to enjoy BOTH the Inside & Outside Bars
For Gamblers and “Partiers,” the 2 bars at The Loading Dock were crowded & might be a good choice. What about The Loading Dock’s Buffet? Well, for me, they cannot possibly pull off a competing dinner buffet with only that one long counter – so I will not even try it. That said, I do want to try out their Breakfast Buffet next visit as I have received several inquiries as to how it is. I’ve no clue! Who can screw up a Breakfast Buffet? As for the restaurant… None of the 8 of us intent to return until -perhaps- the YELP reviews trend upward suggesting that management has finally decided to tackle the short comings. There are too many other better dining choices on the “Laughlin Strip.”
Alternate Dining Option for Edgewater / Colorado Belle Visitors
We want WhyLaughlin.com readers to eat at the restaurants that are part of the hotel/casino venues you call home during your Laughlin Visit. The 9 Laughlin Strip Resorts offer attractive room rates and hope to make that up in their casinos and other venues. While we will continue to hold out hope that the management turns around The Loading Dock, I would suggest in the mean time, that you consider Pints Brewery and Sports Bar where the service and food is more consistent. Had we have gone to Pints this evening, we could have been in and out faster and the food at Pints is consistently good to great (depending on the visit).
The Loading Dock Bar and Grille – Location, Phone, Website and Menu
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