When I heard that a couple of restaurateurs formerly of the BJ's chain set up shop at Fashion Valley Mall, boasting that their new concept solves common grievances like slow, rushed or AWOL servers—by replacing them with iPads—I was there like stink on Stilton to check out the scene.
Futuristic visions of Fembot servers with ketchup and mustard dispensers for nipples were quickly dismissed at Stacked when a friendly human sat me and then another came along to offer some basic ordering tips. Traditional table service is available for those who want it—just ask. And at any time, press the help button to summon an employee. Marvelous.
America's favorite foods—burgers, pizzas, sausages and salads—are stacked on the virtual menu with more than 100 toppings and 70 house-made sauces to choose from. I could've easily sat there for an hour farting around with all the different flavor combos, which is totally acceptable at this order-whatever, -whenever, pay-from-your-table revolutionary café.
The proof was in the burger. My certified angus-beef version with cheddar, Roma tomatoes, green-leaf lettuce, pickles, fresh-fried potato chips and 1000 Island dressing left little for want at around $7. A buttery, perfect-sized brioche bun held its contents from start to finish, but other tables' teetering, stacked-to-the-heavens sandwiches didn't look so lucky. And the sides? Sweet-potato fries were made for dunking in butternut-squash aioli—spiced and sweet, evocative of pumpkin pie.
My biggest concern with Stacked was that prices were missing from both the website and iPad interface, but, says co-owner Paul Montenko, “fixed menu prices are irrelevant, because guests only pay for what they order, versus restaurants that charge a set price regardless if you ask to hold certain items.” Instead, the total price is visible from all screens as diners drag and drop ingredients with uninhibited glee.
Stacked is a refreshing departure from its retail jungle of a home, if only because impatient sales people won't hover and judge what you're paying for, which is reason enough to celebrate with a mac-'n'-cheese-topped Vienna beef frank.