It's 8 p.m., and I'm at a splashy new restaurant named for an Alaskan brown bear, surrounded by more TV monitors than I can count. The bar is hopping but sipping sangria at my cozy booth, I'm wishing I could munch on the freshly fried kettle chips recalled from an earlier lunch visit. Not at dinner, I'm told. Nor can I get the warm and wonderful "ball park" pastrami and Swiss sandwich on a pretzel roll; that's also lunch-only.
Dinner takes off with plump grilled chicken wings in chipotle-BBQ sauce. Nice. A fresh and sprightly Greek salad is also pleasing.
Best among a roster of five sliders are Italian turkey patties topped with provolone, Roma tomatoes and garlic-Parmesan mayo. A full-sized bacon cheeseburger, smoky and oozy, comes up a winner. So does a wicked fried-chicken sandwich with Buffalo-style hot sauce topped with Cheddar and jack cheeses as well as blue cheese dressing.
I'm surprised at the fiery punch packed by the jambalaya: Cajun-spiced chicken and shrimp with andouille sausage and vegetables in Creole sauce over Spanish rice.
King among desserts is the house-made crème brûlée, crackly top over trembling vanilla custard.
AND BEAR IT
Dry Asian salmon sliders have a strong fishy taste, while meatball-Parm sliders have spent too long cooking.
True, my steak and chicken fajitas feature tender, juicy meat, but the accompaniments (unappetizing dark red salsa and pale chopped tomatoes as well as shredded lettuce and Cheddar) have zero appeal.
I question the naming of the "Southern comfort platter." It's supposed to feature barbecued beef brisket but pastrami is summarily subbed ("We ran out of brisket," I'm told after inquiring). There's also a reheated-tasting chicken thigh in barbecue sauce and four pretty good ribs. Slaw and sweet potato fries are passable; cornbread is chokingly dry.
With live acoustic music and lots of drink specials at night, the handsome place is sure to draw crowds. As for me (and probably lots of others working nearby), lunch rules.