Snowy nights always seem to bring out a form of antsiness in me; I can never really stand doing a regular nightly routine during the only positive aspect of our Winter (well, that and killing off of those damn insects). And these last couple days of empty nights and beautiful falls have done nothing but made me want to go out somewhere interesting.
Luckily for me, my recent “tabs-keeping” on the many Trucks which I still need to visit has clued me into the happenings of the N.E. Palace. With their kitchen currently under hijack by the Awesome Eats guys, I found myself a place to spend an otherwise boring couple hours, listening to music and chowing down. So, I braved the already couple inches of light snowfall, headed in the opposite direction of Rush Hour (had to make a quaint little move over to University though… Central was being a bit of a pill), and made it to the little bar off of Lowry.
It’s a small fella, with a 15-ish seating bar on one side of the room and a few booths on the other, which is only about ten feet away. The back is taken up by a small, warmly lit stage which hosts comedians on Tuesdays and Live Music on Friday. By the time I got there, Wain Macfarlan’s band was already tuning up their washboard, wash tub, banjo and other random instruments for the night to come. Their first tune was “My Baby Does the Hanky Panky,” and the rest were other songs probably from the same era, and I’m sure I was the only one in the bar that didn’t recognize them… damn my generation and its music.
Simple, old-fashioned, local dive bar all the way, one goes in and immediately senses that 90% of the people there are consistant regulars. Bar is stocked basically, beer is all mass-produced brands, and there isn’t a tap in sight; not going to find anything local, artisinal, special, or micro; this is the place you go to slam down something cheap and alcoholic, just like in the good ‘ol days (did I use the right spelling for that?). I myself got a Rolling Rock, just because I don’t think I’ve had one yet… and I didn’t feel like ordering water.
Now, the FOOD! I was SO excited when I saw Awesome Eat’s Bar-style menu online, couldn’t wait to order (which was done by the Food Truck guy wandering around the bar himself… do not try doing this through the bartender). Before I continue, let me say this is NOT an official Review of the Truck; last time I ate there they were doing Tacos, then Bar Food… I have no idea if the menu at Palace is even going to have ONE of its items on their Truck when they come out again in Summer. I do hope they at least do those Coconut-Crusted Onion Rings though… they didn’t have any when I went on Friday and I wanted one soooooooooo bad… almost cried, but the bartender was giving me stern looks as it was…
-ahem- anywhooo, I decided to go for two things instead: Cheese Curds and the Spam Trucker. Now, if you don’t know what a Trucker is… I don’t blame you, I think they may have made up the term. Just think of it as a glorified Grilled Ham and Cheese with more meat, some slaw-type topping, and french fries shoved inside. Damn it was good, and artery clogging, though I felt like I could have used more Spam… and cut into thicker pieces, not the thin Gyro-like slices. The fries are tossed with a load of parmesan and dried rosemary, and have that softness and flavor very similar to some of the more upscale restaurants that serve, like The Red Stag. Though, sadly, they have absolutely no cripsyness or other texture to them…. like The Red Stag.
Now, I’m not much of a Cheese Curd person… I like them, but the over-handed greasyness turns me off. Plus, although one can easily classify differed Fried Curds as better or worse than others, they’re all basically the same; same batter, same thickness, almost always same kind of curd. However, I VERY much revelled in AE’s Curds, because there was an actually noticeable difference; the batter was thinner and closer to the curd. Simple, but it created a much different experience than usual. They also paired it with this thick-as-paste spicy marinara sauce that made the experience so much more tasty, and helped eliminate Fried Cheese fatigue as you try to work through the giant pile.
I hate quite the leftover pile of Curds and Fries by the end, which I got a To-Go Box for…. and then proceeded to forget at the Bar, which I only realized halfway through my drive home through the snow. The urge to bang my head on the wheel was very hard to push down.
All in all, the music was lively, food was satisfying, and it was a great place to hole up during a Snow-Filled night. I’m thinking of going back some Tuesday to see how the Comedy fairs. Anyone wanna join?