Saturday, May 3, 2014

Willie's Grill and Icehouse

Some time ago I wrote about the local TGIFriday's. It wasn't overly fancy or the latest and greatest, but The Lovely Spouse and I had a few items we liked there that were consistently good.  Unfortunately Friday's closed.  Not very soon after it was purchased and turned into a Willie's Grill and Icehouse. We were undecided about where to have dinner one evening so we decided to give them a shot.

Upon entering we were greeted with the latest trend in mid-level chain restaurants: order your food at the front and someone will bring it to you.  But this time, with a twist.  We ordered our food at the front, took our ticket to the table, and placed our order again with the server.  The server also discovered that the order had been incorrectly written down by the person at the front counter.

This is a very odd arrangement.  We placed our order and got our drinks. Then we sat ourselves.  And placed our order...again.  Why bother with this?  There was no way for the person at the front counter to put the order in via computer or anything.  The person at the front wrote it down. Um...kay. Weird.

Fried jalapenos served with queso. 
We ordered an appetizer to split and received the deep friend jalapenos.  We were expecting something similar to jalapeno poppers, but the version at Willie's was interesting: sliced canned jalapenos breaded and fried.  And served with queso. Not bad as pub food, but we were both glad we got the small order to split.

The blue cheese burger.
Grilled chicken with steamed veggies and fries. 
Next came our meals. I got the grilled chicken with steamed veggies and fries.  The Lovely Spouse got the blue cheese burger. The grilled chicken was well cooked, although not very well seasoned.  But nothing a little salt and pepper didn't improve.  The veggies were as to be expected in a mid-level chain restaurant. The fries were pretty good, although far too many for me to eat.  I shared them with The Lovely Spouse. Unfortunately The Lovely Spouse's burger just didn't live up to what should be expected in a restaurant next door to Grub Burger Bar, a block from Mickey's Sliders, and in the same town as Harvey Washbangers.  Not a lot of flavor and no change in texture. The burger was overcooked and quite boring. Definitely not what you'd expect from a place that, according to their website, started as a burger restaurant.

The apple pie skillet. 
The Lovely Spouse insisted that we get dessert and ordered the apple pie skillet.  Apple pie and ice cream with cinnamon served on a hot skillet. Tasty, but I didn't have nearly enough appetite for it.

Obvious Americana branding and decor.
Those big, open garage doors are pretty cool on a nice Spring day in April. Not so much when it's 100 degrees F in the shade. And it was noisy with the doors open - I imagine it's much more so with them closed.
Even though the service strategy was weird, the servers themselves were friendly and the service was good. The decor was not dissimilar to Friday's, although with some Texas Roadhouse thrown in.  I'm not sure why they think having a sandy beach is a good idea. Outdoor sandy beach is a great place for cats to hang out, and for kids to play in during dinner.  And I have no idea how they'll cope with a Texas summer with all those windows.  It was very noisy inside, with the garage doors open.  I imagine it will be even more so when they close the windows with the heat.

Children, outdoor sand pit, and commercial food service - what could possibly go wrong?  
Will we be back?  Most likely not.  Harvey Washbangers beats them on burgers, grilled chicken, fries, and beer selection, and they're locally owned and operated. Grub, Mickey's, and Blackwater Draw are also excellent options if I'm hankering for a burger.

Am I warning you all away?  Not really. The food wasn't bad.  There are, in my opinion, better options nearby.

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