Sunday, August 23, 2009

Callaways Menu Change

Earlier this past summer I had an opportunity to stop by Callaways for dinner. I was really looking forward to a good, somewhat upscale meal, accompanied by a reasonably-priced wine in the nice setting. Opening the menu I frantically searched for an interesting special or some old favorites, but none were to be found. Confused, and concerned that some philosophical shift in the menu had occurred unbeknownst to me, I asked the waitress what was up with the menu. She confirmed my hypothesis and, unfortunately, my fears: Callaways had homogenized its menu with the offerings in The Pub. In other words, they dumbed-down the menu, shifting from more formal dining to more "casual" fare.


Well, the food was fine and the service was great, but I left unsatisfied, lamenting the loss of the Callaways of old.

Callaways is located at the rear of the CJ Callaways complex at Prairie Green Golf Course. The space is beautiful with very high, open ceilings. Even though the seating areas are fairly open, it has a nice, private sort of feel. The old menu offerings included steaks, chops, seafood, and other standard, South Dakota-esque "fine dining" choices with some interesting twists here and there. For instance, Callaways used to offer a killer spinach salad with a warm bacon dressing. Personally, I always thought the dressing was a little heavy on Dijon mustard, but it was still pretty darn good. They also had (and still do, I guess) offer a side of roasted white and sweet potatoes. At one time, I think when Amy Warren was the Executive Chef, they offered an awesome-looking rack of lamb. I never had a chance to try that, but it looked phenomenal. Why the hell doesn't anyone serve a decent rack of lamb around here? I might have to look into that.

Another thing I really liked about Callaways was their wine list. It wasn't really extensive, but had a good variety of wines at a good variety of prices. The other thing I appreciated was that the wines were priced better than at restaurants owned by the same group, particularly Foley's. I actually had an argument about this with one of my friends who was then a server at Foley's. This argument surrounded two points: (1) That Foley's overpriced their wines and (2) That Callaways offered a lot of the same wines at better prices. But I digress . . .

I think what I liked most about the old Callaways was that it provided a great alternative to other Sioux Falls dining choices. When I didn't feel like going downtown to Minerva's and didn't want to venture out to Foley's (which I confess I rarely do for a number of reasons), Callaways provided a great option. I've enjoyed several good meals there with good friends and good wine. And I miss it.

I sincerely hope the new menu is not just a trip around the drain in a death spiral. I can see how Callaways could become a victim of an economy where people eat out a little less and when they do they spend less money. Maybe it's just an effort to drive old Callaways fans to Foley's or even Tre (the other restaurants owned by the group). Whatever the reason, I hope it changes because I want the old Callaways back.

C J Callaway's on Urbanspoon

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