Opinion and Dining Reviews

Scotty's Brewhouse is hip, but food and service is so-so

February 2, 2009

 Remember that guy in college who kept screwing up and, sometimes, disappointed you? But when it came down to who people wanted to hang out with the next weekend, he was the guy?

The "that guy" phenomenon helps explain how two out of three diners at our recent lunchtime visit shared stories about past Scotty's sendbacks and make-good cards and indelicate wait staff incidents ("This should last you a while," upon delivering a plate of cold cheese to atone for cheese-free mini-burgers.) At the very meal we were sharing, the kitchen was remarkably slow, a medium-well burger showed up relatively raw, and appetizer plates weren't cleared by check-arrived time.

Yet on the way out, we were already talking about coming back.

Could it be the food? Well, that's part of it. Everything we sampled was—and has been in the past—fine, but not above the fare at other bar/eateries. Too much pucker can be the ruin of fried pickles but Scotty's Dill Chips ($.8.50) were sliced thin enough that the pickle and the batter balanced nicely. The half-Buffalo Chicken Wrap with mac-and-cheese side ($6) had plenty of meat and spicy-but-not-too-spicy sauce, and the macaroni was coated in actual melted cheese. Yes.

Lyla's Aloha Burger ($9.75) was one of three winners in a recipe contest sponsored by Scotty's, with the victors ending up on the menu. I'm not sure how stiff the competition was, but mine—once it returned to the table cooked to specs—seemed to have lost the taste of the seasoned salt and barbecue sauce. But its sliced pineapple and Swiss cheese accented it well. (Note to burger lovers—you have to ask for such usual toppings as lettuce, tomato and pickle on burgers.)

A fun gimmick on the extensive Scotty's menu are the Minnies ($9). These come on cafeteria-style trays with something in each of the plastic compartments. Options include mini-tenderloins, mini-burgers and mini-pulled pork sandwiches, along with applesauce, waffle fries and a tin dessert. You don't even have to worry about sitting at the cool table.

The problematic friend at college usually apologizes for the mistakes made. So does Scotty's, seeming truly contrite about the errors. In the case of our lunch, half of the burger cost was taken off the bill.

Surely it won't be the last time a mistake is made that requires an apology. But when you're in a co-dependent relationship like the one we're in with Scotty's, you have to expect that.

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