Brio Grille Restaurant – Radisson Hotel, Albuquerque, NM

by Nick
Categories: Bar, Restaurant Reviews
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Published on: September 27, 2010

Brio2

This weekend my brother’s family, my girlfriend and I went to the Water Park at the Radisson Hotel.  That’s right, a water park INSIDE of a hotel.  We spent several hours in the water, going on slides, the Lazy River, hot tub, pools and of course the FlowRider.  So this review starts, not with food, but with a story.  If you don’t care to read the story, then by all means, skip ahead.  The review will be marked as to where it begins, but I should tell you, this is the story of legend.

FlowriderMy brother and I decided to strut our way on over to the FlowRider and do some body boarding.  What is the FlowRider you ask?  It’s a Surf simulator that pumps 100,000 gallons of water per minute, 30MPH in a 3 inch sheet up a padded hill.   The picture is pull from their website.  Though they do have the flowboards, most of the people use the bodyboard, which is basically a boogie board.

The first thing you notice when walking in the room is the amount of water the thing shoots out the top, it’s intense!  The second thing is how much fun the life guards are having!  They love helping people and they have lots of practice, so they make it look easy.

My nephew went first and he did great, building my confidence in the process.  The lifeguards help you your first time out.  You lay down on the board and they slide you out onto the turbulent water and the fun begins!  Having seen several kids go before me and watched as each of them go flying over the back, I was less nervous about that when it was my turn as I weigh considerably more.  More enough in fact to feel my legs push through the water a few times and stick to the padded surface.

As long as I kept moving though, I had a good time.  swinging back and forth, I got up on me knees and started showing my previous years of experience being pulled behind my dad’s boat all summer on kneeboards, skis, inner tubes, and of course, the boogie board.  the lifeguard jumps out on her board and says, “Ok, now do a barrel roll!”  “Ah what?!”  “Here, watch.”  She proceeds to show me her months of experience and expertly pulls of a barrel roll, making it look as easy as can be.

Ok, so here it goes.  I swing back and forth, to make sure I’m not sticking again and getting ready to show the world my skills.  As I spin over on to my back, I feel this sinking sensation.  The sensation starts not with my heart, but with my pants, shortly followed by my stomach.  The great rush of water had grabbed a hold of my now, loosely fitting shorts and pulled them halfway down my thighs.  In a sequence I still have yet to understand, I managed to finish the roll, still hanging on to the board, pants halfway down my legs and thinking, what do I do if they come off completely?  Maybe the water will shoot me over the top of the rider and I’ll be hidden from view in the great wash as the water sinks back down through the grates at the top into the depths below.

No such luck, my substantial weight of course propels me back down the ramp toward the front, my pants hanging on my sheer force of will.  If I turn, they will come off completely exposing not only by very pale behind to the world, but the rest of which needs not to be seen.  I managed to grab hold of the shorts somehow, and slowly pull them against the great force of water, back to decency.

Ok, I think it’s time I exit this thing.  I pull off to the side, where the rather attractive female lifeguard who was so helpful earlier asks, “Are you ok?”  “Oh yeah, I’m fine, I’m good.”  At this point I was laughing my head off because really, what else are you supposed to do?  I laughed even harder though as I turned around and saw every single guy in line tightening the drawstrings on his shorts, including my brother.

I returned the next day, triumphant in having gone to the store and purchased new shorts, with a drawstring of sufficient tightness.  As I go through the routine, back and forth, up on to the knees and showing off my skill.  I prepare myself for a second attempt.  Will I brave the trick that depants me one day prior?  You bet your ass I will.  Or maybe I’m betting my ass I will.  As I prepared to lay back down and start the roll, the water suddenly stops and propels me toward the bottom.  Maybe the knew I would try again, maybe they decided, “you know, we just can’t risk it.”  I had my fun, time to let another step forward and claim his glory.  Maybe one day I will brave the 3” depths and try my skills again, but for now I sit defeated, having given a full moon to my family and a room full of strangers.

REVIEW TIME:

So after the eventful evening of sliding down slides, floating in the lazy river, losing my pants on the FlowRider, it was time for dinner. My mom not only paid for the rooms so we could go to the water park, but also gave us money for dinner.  Dinner was a given, Brio Grille Restaurant inside the Radisson.  She was told by a good friend that they had the best pizza in Albuquerque.  I’ve got to try it!  I’m a big fan of pizza and in my life I’ve had a LOT of it.  Best pizza in Albuquerque is a bold statement, but I have high hopes.

Brio

They have 2 restaurants.  The first, as you walk into the Radisson is a bar, featuring Karaoke and a pool table.  The second entrance is a restaurant entirely, complete with excellent lighting, and an upscale feel that makes you want to change out of your wet swimsuit and flip flops to have a nice sit down dinner.

I’m slightly confused, it’s a Grill that serves pizza?  Ok, I’ll go with it.  The menu is pretty simple, having given one paper sheet to a table of 8, we all had to fight to take a glance and decide what we wanted.  Pizza, salads, breadsticks.  Well that makes it easy, let’s try them all!

They have a menu on their website, and I’m not sure if that menu has changed or if they have a separate option if you just want pizza.  So out first is the salad

Salad

Before I even have a chance to grab my fork, I’m struck immediately with the thought, “huh, my salad is frozen.”  I glance at my girlfriend’s dish, yep, the telltale signs of frozen lettuce are everywhere.  You can see it, plain as day.  When lettuce freezes, it turns slightly translucent.  My brother and sister-in-law dig in to theirs and retreat with a mouthful of ice.

We tell the server and they apologize profusely and offer new salads.  Mine was only mostly frozen, so I decide to just deal with it, but for the other 3, they brought out new dishes with fresh lettuce.  I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I really want to be nice here and say, oh well they made a mistake and fixed it as soon as they found out, but I’m not going to do it.  I’m going to remain firm here and say when lettuce is frozen it changes appearance.  Any Chef, cook, server, person who eats salad, should be able to grab a handful of the stuff and say, wait a minute, something doesn’t feel right, something doesn’t look right.  Why would you serve poor quality food to your guests, knowing full well that there is something wrong?  I could see it before they had even set my bowl down, why couldn’t someone who get’s paid to prepare food for a living?

PizzaOn to the pizza.  When they set the pizzas down, my first impression was, there is something not right here.  We ordered pepperoni extra cheese, but the cheese seemed to be pulling away from the sauce in the middle. I’ve seen a pizza like this before, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  It looks pretty good, but something just didn’t quite feel right about it.

I grab a couple slices and on first examination, the dough is awfully thick, and a little too even.  The cheese looks like a mix of cheddar and maybe mozzarella, but it was hard to tell.  It’s all about the taste, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, they always say.  This is not the best pizza in Albuquerque.  There is a hint of yeast flavor in the dough, but the texture is very familiar.

It tastes like an over-sized, “self-rising” frozen pizza that you buy at the grocery store, you know the one, “It’s Not Delivery…”  I’m not going to say the pizza is bad, but if held to any standard of pizzeria where you see the guy at the counter tossing the dough in the air, making the ultimate thin and crispy crust, bubbly from a super hot oven with melty cheese and fresh toppings, this would probably be the worst pizza in town.  It’s completely even, doughy and I would be surprised if this didn’t come into the building pre-prepared and frozen. They do bake them in a hot oven, so they get crispy around the edges, but I’m in shock.  The kids loved the pizza, though I still wonder how they can call this extra cheese.

Pizza2

They screwed up my brother’s pizza as well.  Though looking at his, at least the green chile looked good.  He ordered half and half, which they mixed up and put half the toppings on the wrong half.  The sausage look like the frozen pellets you get from any fast food pizzamart.

Breadsticks

Let us not forget about the breadsticks.  Is there something here that they really excel at? No.

These are store bought breadsticks, frozen at some point, dry in the middle, hard on the outside, with crappy pre-shredded parmesan sprinkled over the top.  The “marinara” is more like salsa.  This chunky mess has a bitter tasted that not even the kids liked.  Just try dipping these hardened sticks that at one point used to be something resembling bread and get anything to stick.  The weight of each chunk is enough to drip every bit of “sauce” so all you are left is the clinging water left behind.  These are the worst breadsticks I have ever had.  Olive Garden uses the same type of breadsticks and they make them something you might ask for.  This place, takes the same thing, minus the flavor and makes you want to send them back.

All in all, the food was less than appealing.  The Dr. Pepper was the highlight of the meal for me.  The pizza came in a distant second and I would rather have been slapped in the face than served the rest.  Perhaps they have something else on the menu besides pizza, if you go, try something else.  Let me know how it was.  I would love to find out they actually do something right, but for now, I’d rather buy a bake at home pizza than spend 4 times as much eating the same thing here.

Brio Bar & Grill (Radisson) on Urbanspoon
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