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Waterdog Tavern: something familiar, something different

The+St.+Louis+style+ribs+were+so+tender+that+I+almost+ate+the+bone+from+time+to+time.
The St. Louis style ribs were so tender that I almost ate the bone from time to time.

The St. Louis style ribs were so tender that I almost ate the bone from time to time.

Jackson Monge

Jackson Monge

The St. Louis style ribs were so tender that I almost ate the bone from time to time.

Jackson Monge, Staff Writer

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The new restaurant that opened up at the Carlmont Village Shopping Center had been getting a lot of positive reviews as of late, essentially forcing me to review it.

Waterdog Tavern, the restaurant replacing Hola!, is what you would get if you took a San Francisco modern style and mixed it with a hipster feel. It balances those two styles well enough that it doesn’t come off as Portland, Oregon. If you like those aesthetics and American cuisine, then you’ll really enjoy it.

The cool decor of Waterdog Tavern really sets it apart.

Jackson Monge
The cool decor of Waterdog Tavern really sets it apart.

The menu is quite interesting in its own sense: a clipboard with sheets detailing the drinks and food. This is one of the most interesting menus I’ve come across.

Just like the restaurant, the menu is mostly normal, with its own little twist.

Jackson Monge
Just like the restaurant, the menu is mostly normal — but with its own little twist.

The drinks include your standard sodas, but they do have some interesting additions. The “Tarragon-Black Cherry Soda” was spectacular. The best description of it would be a cherry coke, made with actual cherries, and without a heart-clogging amount of sugar. I ordered two; I couldn’t sate myself with just one of these delights.

It may sound a little off the beaten path, but the cherry tarragon soda is to die for.

Jackson Monge
It may sound a little off the beaten path, but the cherry tarragon soda is to die for.

The entrées are all standard American fare: ribs, pulled pork, fried chicken, steak, pulled pork sandwiches, and others. They come with a free side of your choice, which is nice. The sides again are standard, featuring macaroni and cheese, beans, among other things.

I began to realize that the whole point of the restaurant was to be familiar, but different. While it doesn’t add anything holistic to the American cuisine, it does do an excellent job in remaking it in its own way.

Take their french fries for example. While no cheap ingredients are to be found, nor the disappointment a fast food fryer gives, they are fried (or at least treated in) duck fat. That Chris Farley Saturday Night Live “Gap Girls” skit where he couldn’t stop eating the french fries describes how good they were. To add onto that, they were served in a chic mini fryer, so in short: order them!

After trying them, you'll have to avoid eating them by the handful.

Jackson Monge
After trying these fries, you’ll have to avoid eating them by the handful.

The macaroni was a little disappointing; the top was cool, nearly void of cheese, and the pasta was slightly bland. The middle and bottom had found themselves bathing in the cheese sauce, but still lacking the flavor that macaroni and cheese needs. Perhaps replacing the current pasta with penne, being more bold with the cheese, and adding any number of cheeses instead of a thick monotone sauce would have made it a lot better.

However, the entrées were not a letdown like the macaroni. The ribs were enormous; even I could not finish the entire two racks of four they gave me. They were St. Louis style — at first I was confused at the lack of moistness, though I quickly discovered that the ribs were tender and full of juices. The char was perfect; I cannot describe how well it was done. The fried chicken was a marvel of its own, maintaining its crisp even after taking a quick dip in the pool of mashed potatoes.

Like all fried foods should be, the fried chicken was full of the juices that any fried chicken needs. Skip your next trip to KFC or Popeye’s; this deserves a try.

With a touch of spiciness, along with an excellent crisp, the fried chicken becomes a must have.

Jackson Monge
With a touch of spiciness, along with an excellent crisp, the fried chicken becomes a must-have.

Dessert was mostly standard, but one item piqued my interest. Because I enjoy going the beaten path, I just had to order their pecan cornbread dessert. The best way to describe it is a bread pudding minus the sweet rum sauce that traditionally soaks it.

Instead, a glob of vanilla ice cream stood proud upon the heap of sweetened cornbread. All was excellent, but as the portion of the corn bread was too much, the ice cream-to-cornbread ratio was off by a bit. Overall, it was a delicious finisher to an already excellent meal.

A bread pudding, but with a different style, still very good.

Jackson Monge
A bread pudding, but with a different style; still very good.

Waterdog Tavern is a place definitely worth returning to; I will find myself there again. They just recently opened about two weeks ago, so over time they will improve, and I as a reviewer am excited to see what it turns out to be once they get comfortable and go bold. We are lucky to have a fine dining establishment in Belmont near Carlmont, filling a void that was needing to be mended. Definitely come here with an appetite for something familiar, but something different.

 

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About the Contributor
Jackson Monge, Staff Writer
Jackson Monge is a junior at Carlmont and a staff writer for Scot Scoop. His rap favorite rap artist is Politikz, and enjoys watching the latest Bo Jack Horseman. (Visited 3 times today)
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Waterdog Tavern: something familiar, something different