Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Restaurant Review: The Hungry I


The Hungry I is closed as of April 8, 2013.  I'm told it may reopen as an Italian joint.

The main reason I patronized The Hungry I was the dancing.  Every Friday night they'd move the tables and create a dance floor.  Matt from The Dance Clinic would bring a sound system and play dance music, and a good time was had by all.

The troubles with The Hungry I were location, consistency and quality.  The location was easy to miss - I knew where it was, and I'd drive right by it without meaning to.  The kitchen was inconsistent and often poor quality, and the service varied wildly from criminally poor to above average.  We'll see what happens with the Italian joint.

The Hungry I
6060 Renaissance Place
Toledo, Ohio
(419) 517-5570
Mon-Thr 11am - 10pm
Fri-Sat 11am - 11pm
Sun 12 - 9pm

The Hungry I
I've passed by this place many times, so about a month ago I decided I was late for lunch and stopped in.  The Hungry I is a proprietorship, owned by Gus Nicolaidis and his wife Cheryl, along with his partner Moussa Salloukh with his wife Jennifer.  Gus or Moussa are always on the premises, which means that it's unlikely anything will go wrong, but when it does at least you'll have someone around who can fix it.  That's a huge benefit to the patrons.

The Hungry I has an eclectic menu, offering a little something for everyone.  I've had the Greek chicken wrap and the Greek salad, both of which were very good.  I've also had the French dip sandwich, which was better than average.  On the whole, the food is good.  While you'll never find a gourmand's delight here, that is not the arena the Hungry I is competing in; the restaurant seeks to satisfy the average customer, and they've succeeded.  Where the Hungry I really beats the competition is the atmosphere.

The Hungry I is put together pretty well.  It has two dining rooms separated by a half height partition along with a luxurious private dining room behind a functional wine rack.  The tables have enough space between them to offer a certain amount of privacy.  The acoustics are good, so that when you get a noisy table of people sitting next to you along with an inane woman who periodically delivers a raucous laugh that makes the fillings in your teeth vibrate and causes the microwave oven in the kitchen to blow a fuse, you'll at least be able to stand the racket without throwing your silverware at the offender.  The muted lighting helps to defuse this kind of thing and creates a nice, relaxing atmosphere so that you can enjoy your meal in peace.  Better yet, I saw no evidence of children or advertisements of The Hungry I being a family friendly restaurant.

I was about to give the service at The Hungry I a solid nine, but then I drew the joker.  As I mentioned, one or both owners are always on site so mistakes can be fixed.  My error was that I didn't know this until it was too late to do any good.  When Main Lady and I ate at The Hungry I we had more than one agenda (see below).  We ordered drinks, and my tip off should have been the young man who waited on us.  All the other wait staff were women, and they were all busy working.  The kid - he was 20 by his own admission, and looked to be 16 - didn't move all that fast and was in a sort of narcissistic fog.  While he was pleasant enough to talk to, he lacked a sense of urgency that I found annoying.  What he really lacked was a solid work ethic along with the knowledge of how to wait tables and a manager who was willing to provide him with the proper motivation.  I'm thinking shock collar here, but perhaps not for all the staff.  In fact, all the place needs is one collar.  I'll work the button.  Anyway, the kid got it wrong.  You name it, he screwed it up.  Main Lady got the wrong dinner (a pasta dish) but kept it anyway because the kid disappeared and wouldn't return, nor could he be seen.  We got another waitress to fix the problem and serve us coffee, which earned her a nice tip.  I'm generous to wait staff, but only monetarily.  In summary, your mileage may vary, but if you aren't happy then get the owner involved and your difficulty will be resolved.

Saturday Night Dance
If you like to dance, and I do, then The Hungry I is the place for you to go on Saturday night.  The staff clears a large space in one of the dining rooms and Matt Miller, owner and operator of The Dance Clinic provides the stereo system and the music.  Main Lady and I stayed and had a great evening.

The Hungry I is a success.  The owners have decided up front just what they are going to offer by way of dining and they succeed at it.  I'll be back to enjoy The Hungry I again, watching out for the kid next time.

  • Ambiance: 8
  • Service: 8
  • Food: 7
Rating: 8

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