Those Damn Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings (Part 3)

(Continued from Part 1 and Part 2)

Greg Koch
Wassat?

Yep. They are the mostest favoritest thing to love AND to hate on our menu. True, the Mac & Beer Cheese and the Buffalo Burger give them a run for their money, but the onion rings don’t just edge out…they’ve got a clear margin.  People really HATE them.

I don’t get it. True, I’m in the “one and done” camp with the onion rings. I never get them when I’m dining by myself, and wouldn’t even if I could order just one. The only time I have one is when I’m dining with other folks and they want to order them. I’ll try gently nudging them to one of our cheese plates, the Brussels sprouts or okra (depending on the season), or our house-made Kimchee. I prefer all of those to the onion rings. However, in my effort to be a good host, I’ll usually succumb to pressure and agree to get an order for the table. And I’ll have one. I’ll slather it in our BBQ sauce (which I genuinely love), and I’ll enjoy it.

The most hated item on our menu

The most hated item on our menu

And it’s not just hate. We get anger. Flowing and unrestrained. Expletives fly freely on rating websites about them as reviewers spit out their “How. Dare. They.” vitriol. What could there possibly be about an ONION RING that causes such unbridled bile?

And yet they sell huge.

And believe it or not, we’re actually not that thrilled about that fact.

OK then. What’s the problem? Bad profit? No, the onion rings rank a solid “OK” on the profitability scale. Not bad, not great.

It’s making them.

We have three deep fried items on our menu: the aforementioned onion rings, our Spud Buds and the Mushroom Pillows.

When things get busy, the onion rings are usually what puts us in the weeds. Four minutes frying time per batch. Period. If the person working that station is absolutely on it like clockwork — and the busier a kitchen gets, the more challenging that can be sometimes — then they can probably actually produce two batches every five minutes (we’ve been able to squeeze two deep fryers into the too-small kitchen). If we get thirty orders in over a short period, which can often happen when it’s busy…especially when there’s a wait as people order them in even more volumes from the bar to tied them over…then a little quick math demonstrates that the 30th order ain’t comin’ out until (take 30, multiply by five minutes then divide by two) an unacceptable seventy-five minutes later. Ugh. That’s just plain ugly. And our guests are, and let’s put it politely here, decidedly Not Stoked when they find out that they’re at the tail end of that chain. Can’t says I blame ‘em.

So let’s pause a moment in this too long tale of joy turning to sadness, woe and…perhaps?…eventual redemption and take score.

On the Good Side:
Some folks really actually do genuinely, for all their flaws and character defects (the onion rings’, not the people’s), like them. A lot.

On the Not Good Side:
Some folks make them the target for their ire. As such, they’re one of the most complained about items on our menu. I think it’s partially because their one of the most, errr…’normal’ things on our menu so the folks that are looking for ‘normal’ order them and are disappointed as they…aren’t. Normal that is.  The Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings admittedly share the stage for being targeted with this type of angst with the Mac & Beer Cheese and the Buffalo Burger, our two other most ‘normal’ items on the menu that still…aren’t.

They barely fit within our Food Philosophy. True, we use organic onions, make the batter ourselves, etc. They qualify on that side, no prob. However, we have an unstated co-philosophy of not really wanting things on our menu that are arguably out-and-out BAD for you. Honestly, the onion rings are hard to defend on that level. In fact I won’t even try. Sure, I believe in people’s right to make their own decisions, but I also believe in our right to be at least VERY reluctant to serve food that’s in the no-redeeming-value-and-perhaps-a-fair-amount-of-just-plain-bad-for-you category. You want poor health? Well, we don’t really want to enable you on that quest. Ummm, ‘cept with this dish I guess. Yeah, I suppose it’s fairly evident that have a personal tough time with this one (unlike the folks at that link above that find them “healthy.” Yeah. Right. Healthy deep fried food.

They’re really hard to get out in the volume we need, when we need it. And when you need them (uh, want them rather…no one “needs” onion rings, no matter how much you might be on the Love Them).

Here’s the current menu description for them:

Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings                           7

Crispy tempura-style Arrogant Bastard Ale batter. Too big and
well on the too greasy side (hey, they’re big, fat onion rings, not
carrot sticks). Burned ones often occupy the same plate as ones
that have uncooked gooey batter still on the inside. Yum. Call
us crazy…and many do…we love ‘em. Delivered with a side of
our Stone Smoked Porter BBQ Sauce (same delicious sauce
that we sell in the Stone Store, hint hint).

Here’s how I’d like the menu description to read:

You should reconsider ordering these. It is quite likely you will not like them. They are too big, and both too underdone and too well done. Too greasy as well (what is it with people that want non-greasy deep fried food anyway?) These are one of our most complained about items on the menu. Why don’t we just ax ‘em off our menu and be done with it? Because they’re one of the most popular items on the menu as well. Go figure. If you’re feeling a bit cranky and are looking for something to complain about, then perhaps these will give you just what you need. Oh, and ketchup does NOT go well with these, which is why we accompany them with the Stone Smoked Porter & Pasilla Pepper BBQ sauce. If you’re one of those ketchup-demanders (yes, you have a special designation in the restaurant industry…and it’s not one to be considered in high regard) we’ll supply it on request, but trust us when we say it’s not the best match for these rings. But we digress….

OK. Enough is enough, and it has indeed been enough. What do you think? Should we get rid of them, or are you going to sign up as a charter member of the Save The Arrogant Bastard Onion Rings Campaign?

I’ve made up my mind. Now’s your chance to tell me what you think. Speak up, or forever hold your ketchup  (Actually hold the ketchup no matter what, you hooligans).

Cheers!

-Greg

51 comments

  1. Pingback: The Stone Blog » Those Damn Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings (Part 2)

  2. From an operational standpoint I wouldn’t blame you if you took them off the menu. However the fact that I’m traveling out to visit the World Bistro for the first time this April makes me hope that they stick around on the menu until then so I can at least give the legendary rings a try (for better or worse).

    Cheers!
    Adam

  3. Personally I prefer the rings over the beer mac and cheese. Healthy or not, if you are health conscious just don’t order them, it’s that simple. But why begrudge someone of these fantastic rings just because they don’t fit into a certain lifestyle.

    I understand the kitchen issues, that is where I would have to say that if they are that big a PITA then take them off the menu, regardless of how well they sell or how much they are loved or hated.

    IMO, they taste good, the BBQ sauce is killer and put that all together and it’s WAY better than the mac and cheese. And let’s face it, the mac and cheese isn’t exactly a health conscious choice either.

    But I only get to visit the Bistro once a year if I’m lucky, so I guess my opinion isn’t really one that counts ;-)

    Julie in AK

  4. Keep them, but maybe as just a bar food? I enjoy them, but only really order them with a group who has never been to Stone before.

  5. I enjoy the Arrogant onion rings, and I don’t normally like onions. That said, I must admit that I only order them when dining with a group or entertaining. But I feel that they somehow bridge the gap between the “normal” world and the philosophy of Stone. I love to see my guests enjoying the difference of these wonderful rings while I educate them on Stone’s Philosophy on Food, beer, the slow food movement and why they would appreciate and realize that there is a method to all the madness. And if the complainers (and we all know at least one) can’t understand that it takes time to do things right, maybe they should just run down to the drive thru window for their rings and stop for some fizzy yellow beverages on their way home. “If you don’t have the time to do things right, how will you find the time to do it over?”

  6. Take them off the menu so they can be the special treat at the anniversaries that they once were.

  7. SAVE THE ONION RINGS! About a month ago, my girlfriend and I visited the bistro and were devastated to find out that the onion rings had been removed from the menu. Granted, neither of us had any idea how much prep work/time went into them, nor how much people complained about them, but we thought that such a staple would never be taken away. If people have such a problem with them, change the menu description to the one proposed above and maybe some of the complainers would hold their tongues knowing that they were warned of the very things they are about to complain about (not to mention that the proposed description is far more in the spirit of Arrogant Bastard). For entirely selfish reasons, I want the rings back, but I completely understand if you feel that they are no longer worth the headache.

  8. I personally hated them. Point blank they were way too greasy. It was one of those situations where you ask “would you like a little onion rings with your grease?”. The concept is fine, it seems the execution isnt. Maybe because you dont have the space and how much time they take, the kitchen ends up rushing through them without giving them enough time to drain, or maybe the oil temp isnt staying hot enough because of all the batches going into a small fryer. either way the grease is the problem, not the flavor per se. Maybe they should just go away until you are able to add another fryer or expand your kitchen, and you know you can do them right consistently.

  9. I absolultely LOVE them at the anniversary festivals but HATE them at the bistro. Oh why can’t the cooks make them like Vince does at the festivals??? They are way overcooked and the batter just doesn’t taste right.

    If you’re going to keep them the same then I say pull them off the menu. If you can make them like Vince does then PLEASE do as I will buy them everytime I go.

    Oh and bring back Mike’s beer cheese! I’m still in serious withdrawls :(

  10. Here’s the thing, I have had them, I hated them, I wont order them again. I would hate to see them go if people like them. But I would love to see something replace them that is affordable, and easy to eat bar/finger food.
    Maybe beer cheese rings? :o)

  11. In retrospect. What if you guys remove it form the menu and keep them around as a sort of hidden menu item, a la In N Out. Available upon request, but only if you’re in the know. Lowers the volume of orders and of complaints.

    Yeah, I know. Wouldnt work, but to be WSWD

  12. Eric Gins
    / Reply

    Don’t take them off!!

    Not to be selfish… BUT… Please wait until after I visit the brewery in July and have the opportunity to complain/love these majestic looking onion rings!!! I’ve been dreaming of them ever since I saw the first picture.

  13. mikedashg
    / Reply

    Would NOT want to see these go.

    I only order these sometimes. I’m health conscious so I try to stay away from them as much as I can (being fried and all) but I love em. That being said, I will NEVER turn them down if anyone wants to share an order. Case in point, had some last week :D Love em. They wreren’t actually on the menu, but I got some anyway since I asked about em. :D

  14. Keep the onion rings, they are one of the reasons that I go to the gardens once a month.

  15. Kevin Hedstrom
    / Reply

    During the first week of the opening I tried the rings and complained to you I didn’t like them. You took one from my plate, bit it nearly in half, put the remainder down and said, “That’s just the way I like it.” or something to that effect.

    You then insinuated it was the RIS I was drinking and that it had clouded my opinion.

    Good to know its not just me. :)

    KH

  16. mike collins
    / Reply

    Save the arrogant bastard onion rings!
    Traveling to the brewery and fantasizing solely on the wonderful ales seems one dimensional.I like to believe that an excursion to Stone Brewing Company is not only about beer, but is a pilgrimage of many pursuits, including food. Hell yes the onion rings are slutty, the very stuff that dreams are made of, anyone who would complain about them didn’t walk through the bistro door, they slithered in under it. Please do change the ddiscription in the menu to read like a disclaimer and head off any future complaints.Lastly, it has never been the “stone way” to give in to wimpering wussbags weened on narrow preconceptions.

  17. Keep them, but there HAS to be a more efficient way for you guys to make these, even building a small side building with more fryers on hand than you have kegs on tap, we made a special trip last time and were disappointed to find they had gone, the disappointment disappeared when i dove into my 2007 IRS however.

  18. I Must say I am a bit disturbed by the thought that you would even consider getting rid of the CORNERSTONE of Stone food( and it is if ya think about it)!!
    What is next??..The Arrogance that they were built on?? No more “we do it our way regardless of what the masses think”?? Is there Fizzy Yellow Beer in the future???
    As a Loyal Stonie (as some of us have come to call ourselves)..A Stone Wall stone owner and Blood of the Gargoyle drinker..I have but 1 word for anyone behind this assault on our beloved Rings
    NUT’S!!!!!!!!

  19. The onion rings are so good, I will be the charter member of the STABAOR (save the ab ale onion rings) and will march on your ass if you try to remove them. Or

  20. A wonderful trio of posts Greg. Cheers to your efforts to encourage quality healthy food for your patrons, I know it is certainly something I need to work on personally. Though your rings obviously have some complications it seems suiting for the complicated and certainly not “normal” Arrogant Bastard Ale that they are made with. Thanks for the post, you just got yourself an extra order if ever I have the opportunity to make it to your city. Keep on making wonderful craft brew.

  21. I absolutely LOVE the onion rings and it is the only thing that I always order when going to the brewery or any Stone event. The last time I visited the brewery it was a Friday and we were informed that they are only served Monday through Thursdays now……so basically I am trying to figure when I can get there during the week since the are so DAMN good. PLEASE DON’T TAKE THEM AWAY!!!! I will assist Sam in the march if they are taken away.

  22. Greg Koch
    / Reply

    OK, you guys are seriously messing with my evil plan to get rid of the damn onion rings. Wait, I meant “righteous plan.” No matter. Clearly there’s some level of disagreement here — as in all you “ahhhh-now-you’re-gonna-speak-up” folks now that you’ve felt threatened. Where the hell were you when all the ABAORH (Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Ring Haters) were all talking to anyone that would listen, AND those that didn’t want to? Huh? Huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought. You were just SITTIN’ AROUND, not tippytypin’ on your ‘puter while all those ABAORHers were spoutin’ off. Well, it’s too damn late. I made up my mind already (‘sides, the kitchen crew would fillet me if I backed off on my threat to abolish those damn rings…and trust me, if anyone knows how to fillet, it’s our kitchen team…you don’t wanna go messin’ with that!).

    So, how ’bout this….and I ain’t makin’ no promises here…I’m just talkin’…but what if we took ‘em off the menu but still rang ‘em in for those that ask. Y’know, those in the know. It’d be like a secret code and all. Like, “Gimme an order of the Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings” to your Server, and then they’d look from side to side and see if anyone else overheard, and if they satisfied themselves that no one did they’d lean back in close and say “I’ll see what I can do” (which would be code for “Comin’ right up”).

    So how ’bout that? Would that keep you offa the “Let’s tar and feather that GK guy for axing Those Damn Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings off the menu” warpath?

    No promises or nuttin…just sayin’.

    -gk.

  23. Matt Strawn
    / Reply

    If we’re setting up a code to get the onion rings, let me know. I was there today and was informed they were gone for good. I may have also spouted off a “Bastard” out of my mouth and not the good kind. Not necessarily at anyone in particular. Just extremely bummed. I was lucky enough to try them once a couple months ago at Sunday brunch with a friend of mine and thought they were amazing. Even better with the Double Bastart Double Burn Habanero sauce all over them. Then last visit they simply told me they were not being offered during brunch and now that they are gone… I don’t know what to do. Nothing over the past 2 months has satisfied my ravenous hunger for those donut sized, gooey, burnt masterpieces that are so plainly called onion rings. Those beautiful rings of hope and joy have cursed me for eternity.

  24. Robert G
    / Reply

    When I was up there for the winterstorm recently, I was disappointed when they weren’t being made that day. I’m unsure of the reason, but I would definitely like to try them….sans ketchup of course! By the way, the Mac n’ Beer Cheese was delicious…as were the other appetizers we tried in place of the onion rings.

  25. To be honest..Never saw anything about ABAORHers, and quite frankly they are probably FYBDers as well so we could not care less about’em!!They don’t live Stone!…If they did they would not think of such Treachery!!!
    As for the “code” or “Underground Menu status” you propose…I think that might keep the Lynch Mob at bay as far as YOU are concerned Greg, As for the aforementioned Kitchen Staff it may be another story, Now that we really know WHO to turn our attention to!…Maybe it’s time to get Gordon Ramsey in there to whip the BIG GIRLS into shape!!!
    We are watching you Kitchen staff!!…Be afraid…Be VERY afraid!!!

  26. GregKoch
    / Reply

    Errr…it turns out I was talking out of my…onion ring hole. So to speak. Secret language don’t work. Chef just ‘splained it to me. Logistics and prep be damned. Well, if I want to be the one making them. Since that ain’t gonna happen — running this business doesn’t really allow for voluntary onion ring making time — it ain’t gonna happen.

    BTW, our Kitchen Team ain’t afraid of no one.

  27. It would seem to me that the decision to axe them was made long before you asked “what do you think”, by my count of the above posts’, It’s 16-4 in favor of keeping them(ummm…Democracy??), and they are “the most popular item on our menu”…Hmmm…I could see noobies’ to your fine establishment expecting “Clown in a Cube” style rings and being offended by ABORs’rather unique flavor and texture (personally I’ve never had a bad one, either at the Bistro or the Anni’s)These people are not in tune with the Arrogance that is Stone and as such should be Righteously Taunted into submission…But then again It is YOUR place and you can do whatever you want ( The Arrogance of it all!)
    Another Victory for the Minority……….Cheers’!!

    P.S. NUTS’

  28. Not to be a Blog Hog, But the proverbial “light bulb ” flickered, I think the appropriate thing to do here is to start a ABOR support group!!! (ABOR anonymous?)
    We could meet the 3rd Sat.of each month and discuss our addiction whilst feasting on ABOR’s Lovingly prepared by…YOU Greg!!! Since, as our Enabler it is your responsibility to ween us off these tasty gems as to not cause a violent and dangerous withdrawal!!

    Watcha think?????

  29. Had to weigh in here because this strikes a chord I have always felt about stone. I go to Stone few times a month but rarely do I ever eat there. I feel there is an imbalance. There beer is so in your face overpowering with flavor, yet I find their foods underwhelming. I appreciate the ideals that go behind their menu choices. But when I drink a beer as heavy and rich as Stone I want something salty and greasy. People need to make their own choices when it comes to good food and good drink. Have the healthy options for some and some more pub choices available for others. We all need to indulge everyonce in a while.

  30. Rev. Rhino
    / Reply

    Save the rings! I love the damn rings, we go down from L.A. for the Bastard & the rings. Then last weekend when we got there, we find out NO rings on the weekends, Doh! So keep the rings…

  31. Greg Koch
    / Reply

    Chris – That was definitely a laugh out loud. Very funny. There were threads of truth in there. Mainly that you correctly spotted that I had made up my mind way in advance. What was it about the blog title “Those Damn Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings” at the beginning and the sentence “I’ve made up my mind” in the last paragraph of Pt. 3 that tipped you off? ;-]-=

  32. Rev. Rhino
    / Reply

    I’d take the secret code thingy, just don’t get rid of the Bastard Rings!! Why not try a Maui Onion, on a Double Bastard?? Now see what you get now…

  33. All I know is that my girlfriend and I were seriously disappointed when we drove down from Los Angeles to eat at the Bistro on a weekend during the winter only to find that they were not there. I have eaten at Stone many times, and bragged about the onion rings and the food, but this was her first time. Kind of marred the experience for her as she was excited the entire 2 hour drive down to try them. She doesn’t seem to willing to make the drive down again with me…

  34. Greg Koch
    / Reply

    Andrew, we’ll have to come up with a new term for that. Perhaps a “onion ring friend”? Hmmm, nope. Doesn’t have the same ring as “fair weather friend.” C’mon…she won’t come down again because of onion rings she’s never had, and only heard about? Well, I suppose that’s a good reason to come to the Stone 13th Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival as they will be there for a reprisal. And you tell her, from me, if she doesn’t come eat them then…then I’m officially banning the onion rings from that event too. Forever. Because of her.

    OK, not really. That’s the Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous talking. Or is it…. ;-]-=

  35. Luke Dog
    / Reply

    Get rid of the onion rings. They were not that good anyways. At the Stone festival they were better then at the Bistro. What happened to the Eggs Benedict at Sunday brunch? I loved the Arrogant Bastard Hollandaise sauce. I made it at home with some of my home brew wort but it wasn’t the same.

  36. Colleen Heller
    / Reply

    I love the onions, and I think they add to the menu at the brewery. I know they are not healthy, but I also don’t eat most of my meals at the brewery. The few onion rings I eat in my life will probably not lessen my health. The beer is great, the atmosphere is enjoyable and the food caps it all off. I understand how they are a pain in the arse so I don’t blame you for considering getting rid of them. I say please keep the wonderful fat fried goodies. Much thanks.

  37. Wow, are you kidding me?!!! These are the best damn onion rings I have EVER had. I brought my golf partner to the brewery on our way back to SD from several rounds in the desert. We ate some o-rings, and drank about 5 or 6 pints. That man won’t stop talking bout the onion rings. He just said the other day “had some onion rings at Phils BBQ. They were pretty good, but nowhere near as good as those ones we had at that brewery up in Escondido”. I’m serious guys, those onion rings are really tasty.

    Keep em!!!!

  38. Hey Greg,

    Since the rings are (apparently) gone, I just want to ask that you provide some kind of appetizer that will really go well with your beer. I agree with Bryan that the food and the beer don’t harmonize well with me. The beer is heavy and in your face, and the food is much more subdued. Give us some food that will stand up to the beer. Your menu is creative and the food is excellent, but it wouldn’t hurt to put a few brewpub classics on the menu for people who want it.

  39. Take them off the menu and have them be one of those things people have to ask for.

    The people that really want it will ask and the people that don’t know they want it won’t know what they are missing and you’ve got that whole underground special club appeal to work with then.

    Cheers,
    Felicia

  40. I’m heading up to Stone tonight for dinner, and it’s killing me to think that the rings aren’t going to be on the menu. How could you possible think that the best thing on the menu isn’t worth it? Charge me more, I don’t care! I just want those rings! It looks like I will have to plan the STABAOR march after all…we’re coming to Citracado Parkway tonight!

  41. Robert Mann
    / Reply

    I really don’t understand the love that people have for your onion rings. I thought they were terrible, but I have never liked thick batter on fried foods. I like a very thin crispy batter, but that’s just me. My favorite dishes are your duck tacos and your mac n cheese.

  42. It’s hard NOT to hear the word AB Onion Rings when talking about the brewery or any Stone event. Trouble or not, people are not thinking about health when they goto a brewery, so leave them be. We love them and they power the trucks and us!

  43. Blasphemy!!

    I was there for the first ever Arrogant Onion Rings. They should be a staple on the menu and it really is the only thing you have that is close to “bar” food. (I realize you don’t care about this, but a concession here or there, especially in the name of tradition and expectation, is to be hoped for.)

    Perhaps you raise the price a buck, write a story about it next to the item, and put something in there about prep time, like when you order a souflee at a nice restaurant.)

    Or maybe this is a simple marketing scheme, like when Jack first got offed. Arrogant Bastard Onion Rings are back!! Doesn’t seem like yer style, but it’s an amusing thought.

    And for what it’s worth, the secret menu thing is a good way to go, too. Adds even more mystique!

  44. Kevin O'Reilly
    / Reply

    I brought friends from Hawaii to the Bistro a couple of weeks ago. I heard rumors that the new chef took the onion rings off the menu, but now it was confirmed. Disapointed, yes. The waitress suggested Oaked Arrogant Bastard to with our Duck tacos and all was good, but still I wondered, what happened to the onion rings. Glad I found this blog. I do understand your decision. Good bye old friend, it was very nice knowing you.

  45. Craig Julian
    / Reply

    Love the rings! I must say I didn’t realize what a pain they were to make. Yes, they are greasy but I bet some tweaking of the cooking method can improve on this. BTW, I also love the Mac ‘n Beer cheese.

    I want to weigh in and agree with Eric and Bryan regarding appetizer selection. Like it or not, most beer aficionados prefer ‘classic’ pub grub to accompany their beverages. Nothing wrong with being creative and different but there’s an entire menu with which to work, right? So why not offer some more traditional fare to appeal to a wider audience and improve sales?

    You know what would be awesome? Use some of that killer pretzel dough to wrap the artisanal sausages and serve with dipping sauces…please feel free to use this recipe and to buy me a beer or 2 if it’s successful :)

  46. Craig, I like your idea to wrap our artisinal sausages in our pretzel dough–kind of like a slightly more sophisticated version of pigs in a blanket. I’ll send your suggestion to the powers that be. Cheers!

  47. I’d say 86 ‘em. Yeah so everyone loves them but it will make room for something even better and healthier on the menu, which is the modus operandi of Stone. Beer Mac ‘n Cheese is awesome by the way!!!

  48. Ok, I hear your complaints and have what might be the easiest solution. If it’s the number of orders that is the problem then solve the problem.

    From this time forward (or after they return to the menu), Arrogant Bastard Onion Rings can only be ordered at seated tables and not the bar area. Prevent the huge backup from people ordering them while they wait. Also, decrease the size of the orders. You can take 1 order and make two out of it (or take 2 orders and make 3).

    What do ya think?

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