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A random collection of rants, reviews, and miscellaneous thoughts on everything from instructional technology to local restaurants.
I was looking for a new place to try for dinner, so I turned to Urbanspoon to see if there was someplace close to home I had overlooked. Since I’d had a large Italian meal last night, I was more in the mood for sandwiches or something lighter tonight. America’s Pub and Grub popped up, and had generally positive reviews, so I decided to give it a try.
The place had two things going for it. First, the word “pub” has good memories for me. Several years ago when we visited London the best food we found was in the pubs. Also, the reviews seemed to indicate that Cajun cuisine was available. This area is sorely lacking in authentic Cajun options, so I wanted to see what they might have. So, it was off to America’s Pub and Grub.
From what I could read online, the place has only been open for a year or so. This location has been problematic for restaurants. I still remember the incident at Benito’s Italian, which was located right next door. Guadalajara Mexican now occupies that space, but there are also two nightclubs in the area. I didn’t know what to expect.
The outside looks nice and invited. However, a sign on the door advertised a “hookah bar”, and also said that inside smoking was permitted after 9:00 pm. The lingering odor of smoke nearly had me turning around and walking out, but I headed on back in.
The interior has been done with urban black grey tones. It’s a small place, and a bar dominates one corner. Seating was a bit weird. There were a few tiny tables that would hardly accommodate one, much less a couple. The only other tables were in three alcoves that could easily seat six. I took one of the alcoves. These images are from their website…
…and this one was taken with my iPad…
There were several patrons at the bar, mostly men in their 40s and 50s. Two young girls and a guy were in one of the other alcove seats. It turns out that one of the young girls would be my waitress. Several other young ladies arrived throughout the meal.
One of the Urbanspoon reviewers made the following comment:
My first impression was that I was the chaperone at one of my Grand-daughter’s slumber parties. The ratio of very young female help to patrons was about four to one.
I had the same feeling. The website (which I swear I only saw AFTER I visited – honestly) had photos of these young ladies in cheerleader outfits. They were attired normally this evening, but from the website it almost seemed like they are a Hooters wannabe. Instead of wait staff they wanted eye candy.
The menu seems to be all over the place. There are the typical bar snacks – cheese sticks, dip, etc, as well as a selection of burgers and sandwiches. There are a few larger entree’s, but pinning this down to a single cuisine is impossible. There was a Punjabi Kabob right along side a falafel sandwich. There were several New Orleans dishes – a Po’ Boy, an etoufee, and a couple of blackened this or thats, but I wouldn’t say that it features Cajun cuisine. One surprising feature was that there seemed to be more than the usual number of vegetarian dishes.
Prices were quite reasonable. Nothing on the menu was over $10.
I started with a safe bet – cheese sticks with marinara sauce. Those were OK, but weren’t anything extraordinary.
Since this is basically a bar, I decided to order a martini. What I received was possibly the WORST martini I’ve ever had, even beating out the one delivered to me in Santee. I think it was mostly olive juice with a splash of gin, and one lone olive struggling to survive the briny mess. An overabundance of vermouth tainted it like too much cheap perfume. I don’t think I finished it, although there was not enough gin in it for me to forget the problems with the drink, and I wasn’t about to order another.
For my meal I ordered blackened chicken with artichoke and spinach. This dish really clued me in on the deficiencies of the kitchen staff. The chicken by itself would have been OK (albeit a bit dry), but it looked like they heated up some of their spinach artichoke dip and poured it over the chicken. The blackened spices clashed mightily with the salty dip mix. It was not a good thing.
The dish came with two sides. There were steamed vegetables, which were the best part of the meal. Then there were the “English Chips”. This was like a cross between a French fry and a potato chip, with all of the disadvantages of both. Imagine a wafer-thin cold French fry, and you’ve got the idea.
Service actually wasn’t too bad, despite the eye candy aspects. It was efficient and friendly.
America’s Pub and Grub functions best as a bar rather than as a restaurant. There are some tame “safe bets” on the menu, but don’t expect fine dining. Also, the screwed up martini left me concerned about the bartender’s abilities. Order beer or wine.
Regardless, I probably won’t be back or recommend this, unless one of my friends specifically wants to come here. There are too many other better options close by.