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.


John Clifford said...

Sounds good. We'll probably give it a try this evening if we can get near the place during the art walk.

Anonymous said...

I tried 2nd Street Bistro before and after ... I prefer the previous restaurant as teh food was better in my opinion.

John Clifford said...

Well, we did make it there last night. The crowds for 2nd Saturday seemed to all be at Thomas between 3rd & 4th, or around the dA, or in the 500 block of 2nd, so there wasn't a problem getting a seat.

I had the Forestiere panini and found it to be quite good. I also had a bowl of what the waitress described as clam chowder. Now I've had the snow what New England clam chowdah, and the red tomato based clam chowder, but this wasn't like either of them. It tasted as if it had sausage in it and it was a brown-white color. Lots of clams, but the seasoning was quite different from other chowders I've had. It was quite tasty and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also liked the way that the thin French fries were seasoned. I know they were frozen from a bag, but the McDonalds like fries got a little added something from the spices.

The lovely Mrs. C had a bacon cheese burger which she described as being more sausage like than a straight up hamburger. She really did enjoy it though.

Oh, Meg, the lovely Mrs. C wanted to add to your description of the cook that he is "blond, blue-eyed, and not bad to look at."

All in all, we'll probably be back.

Pride in Garfield Park said...

I hadn't noticed the new place. Thanks for the reviews. We'll give it a try shortly.

Skrip said...

Sounds wonderful.. i shall take the wife out there soon to try it!