July 4, 2010

Family Dinner at Village Draft House

There seems to be no shortage of sports bars in Raleigh. I have reviewed several of them in earlier posts, and this week I shall present another. When I ate out with my parents this past Tuesday, June 29, we tried a restaurant in Cameron Village called Village Draft House. This was my first visit there, though my mom had eaten there once before.
Village Draft House is actually one of a family of restaurants scattered throughout Raleigh, Cary, and Holly Springs. Each of those places has a different name but the same basic logo design. Likewise, the menus are very much the same among all the places. Currently, seven restaurants of this type are in business, and five of them are operated by the parent company Beer and Burgers. The other two (which includes Village Draft House) belong to a group called Your Draft House. Some of the dates in which these restaurants were established are quite recent (such as Falls Tap Room which opened in 2006, and Leesville Tap Room which opened in 2008), and this suggests that they are still actively expanding to new locations. I believe Garner and Knightdale would be two good spots for the near future.

The dining area is quite spacious, and the booth where we sat was a perfect fit for the three of us. They also have tables outside the front entrance for those who desire a more open environment while they enjoy their meal. Four large televisions were placed along one wall, and they were in a good viewing position from just about everywhere in the room (except maybe those few unlucky diners who happened to be seated almost underneath one of them). As there wasn’t anything really interesting going on in the world of sports at the time we were there the TV’s were only showing a variety of sports-related programming such as ESPNEWS and tennis at Wimbledon (I bet the place becomes a madhouse on weekends during football season).

They serve a good variety of food including burgers, steaks, ribs, sandwiches, and wings. I saw several really inviting choices on the menu, and it wasn’t easy to pick just one. I eventually settled on the French Dip sandwich with a side of fries. My next choices were the Tenderloin Medallions and the Chipotle Chicken, and if I get a chance to eat there again I’ll likely try one of those two. My mom got the Fish and Chips, and my dad got the Baby Back Ribs (which was their special of the day). The restaurant’s real specialty is their large selection of beers (they have 99 choices on tap), but as that’s a part of the menu I take no interest in I decided to order a Coke.

The French Dip sandwich features a hoagie roll with sliced roast beef, grilled onions, and provolone cheese, and it comes with au jus on the side. In fact, it is very similar to the Prime Rib on Garlic Bread Sub I tried at Buffalo Brothers several months ago (I have also seen this type of sandwich served at other restaurants such as the Raleigh Times Bar). Village Draft House appears to have the better bargain than Buffalo Brothers, as they stacked more beef on theirs and it costs a dollar less. I had a happy time eating that sandwich, as all the ingredients were tasty. My mom developed enough interest in it to try a bite, and she was impressed. The fries were good too, but it appeared they didn’t put enough of them on my plate. However, this meal wasn’t exactly a runaway winner as I tasted too much of one bad thing. What became obvious as I was eating my meal was that they really loaded it with salt. While I consider a certain amount of salt to be essential to make the fries taste right, the fries that came with my sandwich only needed half the amount they poured onto them. I also detected a strong salty taste in the sandwich itself, especially on the bun. I have many ambitions in my life, but inducing a heart attack at a young age is not one of them. I guess it is possible that this was an isolated incident (such as someone in the kitchen getting a little overenthusiastic with the saltshaker at the moment he or she was putting together my plate) that is unlikely to happen again, but if I see this trend continue with future meals I will be questioning whether I want to continue eating there. The French Dip sandwich was good enough to get an 8 on my scoreboard, but I’m going to knock one point off for the high salt content.

After we finished our meals, it was time for dessert. They don’t have a large selection, but each dessert listed on the menu is a fine choice. I am almost always attracted to whichever dessert has the most chocolate, and there is no better choice than the Chocolate Lovin’ Spoon Cake. I love the menu’s description of that one, a “giant mouthful of chocolate pudding between two layers of dark, moist chocolate drenched chocolate cake”. The slice of cake is topped with whipped cream, and though it looks to be the right size for a single serving it is very rich and best if not eaten all at once. As a result, I had no fuss about sharing it with my mom and dad. The chocolate pudding was quite thick, and the cake was very sweet and delicious.

Overall, I found Village Draft House to be a good place with a fine menu, and I see much value in eating there again in the future. In addition to the choices I listed earlier, I would like to try the Meatloaf Platter, as well as the Des Moines burger (which comes with grilled onions, cheddar cheese, and apple wood bacon). I only hope that I don’t find my next meal buried underneath a big pile of salt.

VILLAGE DRAFT HOUSE SCOREBOARD

French Dip Sandwich with Fries (7)
Chocolate Lovin’ Spoon Cake (8)

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