Casper Food Critic – Stuft Does Not Leave You Stuffed [OPINION]
A note from the editor: The following is an original review from the "Casper Food Critic." The purpose of this review is to offer a single consumer's opinion about an establishment's food and service. At K2 Radio, we believe anonymity to be of paramount importance - this is to ensure that the Casper Food Critic receives the same quality food and service as any other customer. We encourage you, the reader, to join the conversation and leave your own reviews in the comment section at the bottom of the page. - Tom McCarthy, Managing Editor
Being of an Irish descent, I can’t ignore the importance of the lowly potato. When the famines of past centuries struck the old country, folks began to love the dirty tuber they had been taking for granted. Like my ancestors, my craving and drive for this starch can reach epic proportions. When I heard of a potato specific eatery opening in Casper, I found my most cliché green hat and headed toward the door of Stuft, in the Triangle Plaza.
The location is easily accessible being so close to lots of shopping, the mall and all new things that will end up on the far end of East 2nd Street.As is typical of my adventures, I found myself struggling in the parking lot. Extremely narrow driving lanes leading to even narrower parking spaces. It is ones of those lots where you can only drive in certain directions, yet the entry from the main streets do not allow for proper navigation. While this is not the fault of the business, when it takes me 10 minutes to park my normal size truck, I get grumpy from the beginning. I was beginning to feel my own version of a potato famine.
The first thing we noticed upon entering the place was a huge number of people behind the counter. Some appeared to be working, some seemed to be supervising and others were just standing around, periodically eating and drinking. You would think, with this many employees,service would be fast and the food would be hot. However, the luck of Eire was no longer with me and I found out how drastically wanting I would become.
Though I’m not a purveyor of food in any manner, my greenhorn guess would be that potatoes could be previously baked in small batches throughout the day so they are fresh, and kept hot in a steamer. This would help tremendously during the busy Casper lunch rush which coincided with the approximate time of our visit.
After placing my order in my most ethnic accent, I stood by and waited. My potato was ready for me in about 15 minutes, not exactly fast but tolerable given the time of day. That said, I’ve had steaks served quicker than that. The problem was that my two daring fellow travelers had ordered something that apparently took a lot more time to prepare. After approximately 40 minutes, yes you read that correctly - 40 whole minutes, my two pals were called to the counter to pick up their food. We got the impression that they had to bake the potatoes and perhaps even dig them out of the ground. I could have gone home, baked 10 pounds of potatoes in my pressure cooker and returned to the place quicker than it took to get our meal. One of the comrades ordered fried potatoes with toppings. The closest thing I can equate it to is nachos, but with fried potatoes instead of chips. The food that was served was nothing like that. It was not crispy fried potatoes like the description and photo suggested, but cubed baked potato, only partially skinned. I was suddenly transported back to my junior high cafeteria.
With the delivery of the long-awaited meal, no one with the establishment said a word. Not “I’m sorry for the delay”, not “thank you for your patience”, not “I’m sorry, the potato crop has been bad this year due to cyborg attack’, nothing. Nada. Zip.
The untoward result of the downward progression of this visit was that I had received my order first, ate as much as I could stand, and sat for 15 minutes before the others received theirs. All three orders were lukewarm at best, no steam coming from the aforementioned potatoes. Also, the potatoes weren’t quite right. They were definitely not baked in a traditional way, but more the consistency of microwaved mush. Yuck! (possibly) MICROWAVED potatoes take that long? I paid $8.00 for my microwaved-esq potato and a beverage.
Now, I realize it takes a while for a new place to get into its groove. Sadly during that initial experimental phase of trying to get up and going, a lot of people get turned off. The problem with that is they don’t go back nor recommend it to their friends. In a small town like Casper, that can be the death blow to a new eatery. I admit, this experience was early on in their opening, so things could have improved. Of note, if any employee at Stuft had said to any one of us during that visit something like, “Thanks for waiting, we’re sorry for the delay, we hope you come back and try us again”, or similar, we may considered going back. As it stands, we won’t be back. The name is misleading; these potatoes are not gourmet and are not baked. I suddenly wished I had honored the hardships of my kin and just skipped the spuds that day.
Because of the food, asinine wait, lax attitude of staff, price and whole other list of problems (No, I did not include parking in my final score), I will give Stuft the distinct rating of 2.222222 nasty soggy potato skins. The ONLY redeeming quality of this “restaurant” is that the building was fairly clean. The eater nor his clan will be back.
Have you eaten at Stuft Gourmet Potatoes? Comment below and tell us what you thought!