Nearly everyone in Rolla has heard of The Tater Patch. The sports bar, which is located on 103 Bridge School Road, has made a name for itself over its 54 years of operation. It is unique among the bars of Rolla of its location outside of the downtown area, allowing it to feel almost like an island in the frontier outskirts of Rolla.
Many people think of The Tater Patch for its drinks and music. The sports bar has carved out a reputation as the best place to see live music in Rolla with its frequent live acts and open mic nights. On Thursdays, locals and students alike gather for a night of karaoke with beloved DJ, DJ Wyte Chocolate. These may be some of the most boisterous nights at the Tater Patch, as intoxicated patrons wail along to country hits and classic rock. More than anywhere else, Karaoke night at the Tater Patch embodies the small town spirit of Rolla.
Rob and Kricket Webster, the current owners of the Tater Patch, have helped distinguish the bar and turn it into what it is today. In addition to the focus on live music, there are also many bar games available to play. Unfortunately the drinks are often slightly pricier than the other bars in Rolla, likely because of the entertainment options. Nevertheless, they have a fairly diverse drink menu, with a selection of good Missouri craft beers on tap. For more adventurous customers, they offer the Rowdy Kricket shot, a shot with actual dead crickets in it.
In addition to their drinks, the Tater Patch also has a diverse menu of food choices. When I visited for my review, I was excited to try their burgers and see how they compared to the other bars in Rolla. I had been to the Tater Patch before and was slightly disappointed by their famous baked potatoes, which often amount to little more than a bunch of meat thrown onto a baked potato. Unfortunately my previous experience ended with a soggy and undercooked potato.
This time around I hoped for the best, but was quickly disappointed once again. Once seated, a waitress said that she would be right with me, but it quickly became clear that she had forgotten about my table. This level of service would not be unusual for karaoke nights with a packed bar, but was frustrating because the restaurant was nearly empty.
Finally, after nearly thirty minutes, the waitress returned with apologies and took my food and drink order. I decided to try the Sunrise Burger and have Piney River’s Black Walnut Wheat, one of the beers on tap. Still the difficulties were not over, and the waitress returned almost immediately to retake my order because she had lost the ticket. I was not asked how I would like my burger cooked.
When the food finally came out, I was more than ready to dig in. The Sunrise Burger, topped with bacon, ham, and a fried egg was tasty, but the actual meat was dry, overcooked, and poorly seasoned. Fortunately the saltiness of the ham and bacon and the flavor of the egg managed to salvage the burger. The lightly toasted brioche bun also added to the experience, and rounded out the burger well. Overall, I believe that the Tater Patch could have one of the best burgers in Rolla if they cooked them to preference. Just a little more juicy meat would have worked wonders for an otherwise passable burger. In addition to the burger, I had a side of mashed potatoes and white gravy, which was well made, but not very flavorful. Adding sausage or more salt to the gravy would likely improve the side.
After I finished my meal, the waitress returned and apologized once more for the wait, explaining that she was sick and couldn’t find someone to take her shift. These circumstances reflect poorly on the management of the Tater Patch and our work culture as a whole with its blatant disregard for both consumer and worker health and general stinginess with paid time off. Because this is indicative of a larger trend with American values, I cannot put all the blame on the Tater Patch, but nevertheless I cannot recommend it highly.
Overall, the Tater Patch food is above average for Rolla and it houses great events, but because of inconsistencies with service, I recommend sticking to the karaoke nights.