108 S. 8th Street and Hwy 145
Dolores, CO, 81323
A year ago we tried the Ponderosa Restaurant; it was a typical small town diner, friendly service, decent food. Funny how things can change in just a year, and last night was a perfect example. We arrived around 5pm and found only one other table being occupied; the hostess told us to sit anywhere we liked and brought us menus. I’d heard a commercial on the radio about the Country Fried Steak (salad, mashed potatoes with cream pepper gravy), so had already decided beforehand to order that; however, when we arrived we were told that the night’s special was Spaghetti and Meatballs. My hubby ordered the Sirloin Steak with salad and mashed potatoes with brown gravy; the vegetable of the day was whole kernel corn.
The Salad bar is small, but adequate if having a side salad with a meal; if ordering the salad bar as a meal though, it is rather lacking with choices.
Our meals came out quickly; we were only half way through our salads, so hurriedly finished them, so we could eat our meals while still hot. The mashed potatoes were smooth, but utterly tasteless and we could tell they were from an instant, not homemade. The cream gravy was either from a packet or a jar, very thick and was already congealing on top of the potatoes when served. The corn was canned and overcooked; at least the roll was warm and soft. The country fried steak was very thin and tender, and while the crust was nicely crisped, the meat itself did not taste fresh.
The sirloin steak was cooked properly and tender, but there was very little grill flavor; nothing to brag about. The brown gravy was similar to a thin beef stock with no seasoning. Mashed potatoes and corn were the same as those served with my meal.
Considering only one other couple came in after us, the waitress was very quick to remove our plates as soon as the utensils were put down. We were given our bill and not even asked if we’d like anything else. We asked for another cup of coffee though and it was the hostess who served us, not our waitress.
Now we overheard the waitress speaking with the other couple; twice the gentleman asked how many meatballs came with the special. All the waitress would tell him was, “Quite a few”. Now that is certainly not a proper answer, especially if on a portion restricted diet, or a person who cannot eat a big meal. Then again, the word “few” refers to three or more, so what “few” means to one person may not be the same to another. Later on the cook himself came out to chat with the couple who turned out to be locals. He was relating to them how he had been working in the kitchen for 30 days straight without a day off. Perhaps this would explain the substandard food; was he suffering from burnout?
On another note, the women’s restroom was not in a clean state; debris on the floor, black mold on the wall behind the sinks and no locks on the stalls. Considering it was only 5pm and they close at 9pm, one would think the bathrooms would be checked regularly and maintained.
Our basic decision was, maybe we’ll go back in a year again, and see what has changed, if anything, or maybe not.