Pluto’s is an oddball-looking place in the Galleria that I’ve been curious about ever since it opened but never went in to check it out. It’s located out in the promenade area near the playground, across from Il Fornaio and Ruth’s Chris. They have about nine locations from here to the bay area and focus on fresh, local ingredients. I met up with some family to finally try it this evening.
I arrived at about 5pm. Outside, the mall was busy with people going in and out and there were a ton of parents with children enjoying the playground. Inside I was surprised by how big the dining room was. There are lots of different sized tables spread out down to the other end and against the windows. They also have some counter seating near the front door with book holders mounted on the walls so you can read while you eat, which a woman was doing when I walked in. I thought that was neat. It wasn’t particularly busy, but later business picked up and there was a bit of a line by the time we left.
Pluto’s doesn’t have your typical menu. Instead, they have a paper slip you can grab right inside the door as you head towards the counter. On it you’ll find a list of items to choose from to create a salad or sandwich. There are a few, apparently permanent, sandwich creations on this paper. In addition to these things, you’ll find sides, desserts and drinks. There is a separate kids menu near this one. Up at the counter you’ll find a couple more menus of salads and sandwiches that change weekly. Now up there, I could see a ton of ingredients on their side of the glass, ready to be put to use. It feels a bit like Jack’s Urban Eats. They even have the grill and the whole turkey right there like Jack’s.
Most of the pre-configured sandwiches and salads sounded pretty good. I went with one called Turkey In Flight (roast Sonoma turkey on grilled foccacia with Jarlsberg Swiss cheese, crispy bacon, roasted red pepper and artichoke spread, roasted low fat garlic mayo, romaine lettuce and plum tomatoes). My mom ordered the Mozzarella Moon (fresh sliced mozzarella cheese on grilled foccacia bread with balsamic vinaigrette, basil pesto, fresh basil leaves and plum tomatoes) and my brother went with the Shanghai salad (baby spinach, sugar snap peas, scallions, roasted almonds, radish, shredded carrots, oranges, sunflower seed~soy nut mix & zesty orange vinaigrette).
We placed our orders and was handed a paper (again, very similar to Jack’s) to take down to the register. Here I saw a small tap with four beers and a small lineup of bottled beverages. They also have soda, which isn’t clear if you didn’t read the paper menu, and it doesn’t actually list everything anyway. They have a bar-style soda “gun,” so I couldn’t see any flavors on a fountain or anything. The cashier listed them off for me, all the basics pretty much, and they had Pibb so I got one of those. I also grabbed a brownie from a selection of desserts off to the right. Most of the sandwiches are $6.65. My total came to $13 or so after the soda, brownie and a side of mac and cheese. We grabbed a table and waited just a few minutes before our number was called and I went up to get two of the plates. My brother’s salad was brought to the table a couple minutes later.
I tore through the mac and cheese first since it was hot and cooling rapidly. It was ok, the macaroni was soft and the cheese sauce thick and very creamy. The cheese flavor was fairly mild. I like a sharper mac & cheese for the most part. My sandwich looked pretty good. The turkey was about a half-inch thick slice. The tomatoes and bacon were probably the best part of the sandwich. Unfortunately, the turkey was pretty dry and the artichoke spread and garlic mayo fairly bland. The bread was good and I think would have been great given some good, tender turkey and bolder flavors.
My mom’s Mozzarella Moon looked great, and she said it had a lot of flavor (after I mentioned my sandwiches lack of it). It did look pretty damn good, as did my brother’s salad which was lush with deep green baby spinach. He said the dressing was very citrus-y. Finally I got to work on the brownie. This was a very dense and rich brownie, I would assume flourless. I regretted my decision to not take this home, because I immediately wanted a huge glass of milk to wash it down with. It was pretty fantastic though.
Despite my kind of blah sandwich I sort of liked this place. I don’t have any interest in their turkey anymore, but I actually want to come back to try a salad or the Mozzarella Moon (which is one of the permanent sandwiches). There’s probably some good people-watching to be had sitting out on the patio too ;)