Blog of an aspiring foodie

I want to like you – PLEASE LET ME! (BACKPOST)

Posted by beer_chris on 30-October-2003

Sometimes, when you really, really want to like restaurant, even when the dishes are no good, you want so much to give them the benefit of the doubt that when you finally realize the food sucks, the disappointment can very nearly blind you to what might have been good about the place.

This happened to me at Side Street Brewing today. I really want this place to succeed – heck, I even ordered the most expensive item on the menu on my first visit in my own attempt at contributing to the cause. But tonight's visit just couldn't be made right by my wishing. Last time in, I had the filet (23.95), and it was cooked just right (perhaps a bit overdone), and seasoned to perfection. I was surprised at the quality of a just-opened place with no one inside (save for me and my friends), especially a brewpub. Pub grub ain't what Michelin stars are made of, after all, but the steak was very good.

This time in I ordered the bratwurst platter – pub grub at its most pure. 1 lb of bratwurst boiled in beer and served with sauerkraut, 10.95. Well, what I got could not have been 1 pound of brats – it was maybe three links, perhaps close to a pound if soaking wet. As I ate it with the HOT mustard, I noticed that it was exceedingly greasy, but in a filler kind of way. The meat was ACME brick pink, the casing tasteless and stringy, and the sausage itself yielding but uninteresting – no texture, just 'substance'. If it had been boiled in beer, it was long before it was prepared for me – this sausage had come straight off the grill. After 2 links, I was finally able to admit to myself what I was eating – Ekrich pork sausage from the grocery store, which I had made for myself many times on lazy nights when I didn't want to cook anything complicated. Additionally, the sauerkraut was obviously canned, as it tasted like shreds of paper towel soaked in vinegar. It complimented the cheap sausage well, but that's not saying much. If it couldn't be any more obvious, it had been scorched slightly on the grill – obviously removed from the can and thrown on for a quick 'warm-up' before serving. To add insult to injury, the rim of the plate had been sprinkled with paprika – I guess to add a little 'oomph' to the presentation. It came off as white-trash pretentious, like using a cloth napkin with your Kraft Easy-Mac and ketchup.

My $10.95 would have bought me 2.5 lbs of the fantastic Kielbasa from Central Market, probably with enough left over for a can of sauerkraut.

When the bartender/waiter/owner's son came to clear the table, I (half-joking), asked him where they got the sausage. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I dunno, a pig?”. I didn't expect “On special at Fiesta”, but I wasn't expecting the smart remark back.

This ain't Tony's.

You know, I want to forgive this error – and I probably will, long enough to go back and try their house brews when they are available – but a brewpub can make all the great filets it wants – if it can't get the pub grub right, it's on the wrong track.


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