The design and decor are quite interesting. I've been told that many bars and restaurants have tried this same space but to no avail. You can tell that they did not try to build out anything new, and made the surrounds fit their needs. Which, at the end of the day, I think works very well. There is wood paneling and coat hooks throughout the place, a fireplace and large bar by the front. We even ended up at one of two tables in the back that are located up a few steps. I felt like I was on a perch overlooking the place, and I really enjoyed the vantage point and seclusion. Erica even mentioned that she felt like this could have been on the side of a mountain, highlighting the faux (made of wood) deer head mounted over the fireplace. The servers were even wearing aprons on top plaid button downs. The mood was set and it worked with the concept.
I apologize in advance for the photo qualities. The light was very dim and I don't take pictures with flash.
View from the "perch"
Aside from the service, the meal itself was just fine, no fireworks but good choices from an interesting menu. I agree that they serve comfort, easy to understand dishes. A few pasta, sandwich, fish and meat dishes to choose from all reasonably priced between $11-18. And you're not just getting pasta with meat sauce or steak frites. Along with a typical burger, you can order an open-faced fried egg. There is a bone-in ribeye, but also buttermilk fried chicken thighs. We were both in a pasta mood so Erica had the wild mushroom ragout and hand cut pappardelle while I ordered braised veal rigatoni. All pasta is made in house.
To start the meal we ordered the creamed spinach ($5).
It came with toasted challots and pieces of toasted bread. I really enjoyed this dish as I prefer my creamed spinach light on cream. It was also fun to eat it like I eat spinach artichoke or bruschetta, placing small bites on tasty toast.
Our main dishes were nice, but nothing to get too excited about. The pasta was as good as you expect for homemade, no complaints there. My veal was hit or miss, some pieces being very tough, others nice and soft. The flavor was good, but I found that it got better as I found the bottom where most of the juices and sauce were hiding. I found myself going after the little pieces of veal and stayed away from the tougher large chunks. Again, good dish (for $14) that I couldn't do at home so I don't mind ordering it while out.
Our overall experience was mixed though. The food was fine, nothing exceptional, and the value reasonable. I didn't mention earlier but the drinks list is also very good, great beer list and plenty of wine to choose from. With service being as bad as it was, I'd say it all adds up to a 3/5. Maybe the beer-battered cod or braised beef short ribs are better dishes, and maybe the service was overwhelmed on a Wednesday night. But that wasn't my experience and I don't know if I will be running back when there are many other places to check out. If you live in the neighborhood it's worth a look, otherwise stick with your own local spot.