Saturday, November 14, 2009
barred and grilled on second street
We finally got around to trying the new 2nd Street Bar & Grill last night with a pal. Overall, I think it's an improvement.
The decor is pretty much the same (which I have always liked). And the general personnel style is similar too -- an eager-to-please owner, a couple of waitresses dressed in black. The cook is now a pony-tailed Anglo rather than a shaved-headed Asian, but the energy level is the same.
The menu is the biggest difference, and I also think that it signals the best chance of success: It's significantly simpler than before, and significantly cheaper. There are perhaps half a dozen appetizers, maybe 10 sandwiches (burgers and paninis), a few salads, and a few mains (pastas etc.). The sandwiches are all $7-9, and the mains aren't much more. This is in stark contrast with the Bistro menu, which had way too many items at way too high a price.
The one thing the Bistro menu had over the Bar & Grill menu is font size. The new menus are in a very spidery font at about 12 points, which is far too small for the lighting conditions there.
All three of us had panini -- me the Brasato (hot Italian sausage, cheese, tomatoes), K. the Forestiere (mushrooms and fresh mozzarella), and Friend the Caprese (tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil). The bread is a very pale baguette that I watched the cook cut up fresh.
K. won the food sweepstakes; the Forestiere was pretty tasty. My Brasato was good too, although K. (who has experience in such matters) opined that it had "Hot Pocket nature." I didn't taste Friend's Caprese, but I am of the opinion that mid-November is not the time for Caprese anything, at least not north of the Tropic of Cancer. Friend said it was okay but not great.
Panini come with either salad (field greens with dressing on the side) or fries (frozen out of a bag, but reasonably good).
Their beer selection isn't an embarrassment -- some yellow stuff plus Sierra Nevada. Their wine selection kinda is -- house red (Red Rock merlot) or house white (didn't ask), and that's it.
The service was friendly but not all that professional. The owner's name is Ruben/Reuben. He's a fairly young guy (maybe under 30), and he's friendly and anxious for the place to be a success. But he and the wait staff spent most of their time sitting at the rearmost table eating and drinking with some friends, so it was nearly impossible to get water glasses refilled.
Overall impression: Same great ambience. Improved menu. Pretty good food. Inexperienced personnel that really wants to make a go of it.