Sunday, May 8, 2011
revisited: schlafly bottleworks
not long ago, schlafly released a new menu, and so far we've been quite impressed with the quality and consistency of the new offerings. on our most recent visit, though, we were there for some old-school dishes. we had two primary objectives: 1) try the portobello sandwich again, and 2) review some breakfast/brunch options and compare them with our current favorites (sweetart and local harvest). (you can peep our original schlafly review here.)
we got the party started with one of our all-time favorite schlafly concoctions: "match" vegetarian biscuits and gravy. many a morning we've warmed our tired bodies and souls with this starch and gravy goodness. it's on the short list of our ultimate comfort foods. and as most of you know, it's not often you can find vegetarian gravy, particularly of this quality. no, the gravy aint purty, but boyhowdy, it shore is good! schlafly's unique version relies mostly on the faux-pork from "match," which is pure gold in terms of flavor and texture. when we interviewed scot smelser, he told us a number of his meat-eating customers don't even notice the difference. this is not to say, though, that the gravy tastes like a freshly-slaughtered "babe"; it just tastes more of spices and light sodium, just savory enough to pose as the meat most folks are used to seeing in traditional milk-flour baths. in any case, on this visit, the gravy was a little underseasoned, but this is not typical of bottleworks. honestly, we won't think twice about ordering it on our next visit.
because we've heard from a number of readers and other acquaintances who love the bottleworks grilled portobello, we decided it was time to give it another shot. it's been a couple of years since we've ordered a portobello sandwich anywhere, you see, because we not only believe portobello mushrooms are overrated to begin with, but we also believe any restaurant offering up yet another boring portobello on a boring bun is just not interested in a vegetarian's wants and needs. of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and we figured if any place would handle this mushroom with care and creativity, it would be schlafly. bottleworks serves their version with provolone, spinach, roasted garlic and green olive mayonnaise, and a wheat bun. it also comes with a side of their three grain blend, which is something we usually adore; on this morning, though, it tasted like metal, and we could stomach no more than three bites. anyway, we were worried about the provolone not carrying its weight, and we were right. (frankly, we're baffled as to why restaurants insist on using this uninteresting and played-out cheese.) the spinach was scant at best, and the mayonnaise was unevenly applied, leaving parts of the bun dry and other parts grossly thick with sauce. the portobello itself was palatable, but it was not good enough for either of us to want to finish it off. overall, it was a disappointment, but we weren't really expecting that much from a portobello, anyway.
we concluded with the build your own frittata. we ordered ours with the cheese blend, kalamata olives, "match" meatballs, mushrooms, and onions. lois has ordered this a few times in the past, and more often than not it has been pretty good. this time, too, it was pretty good. what prevents this frittata from becoming great is that, unlike local harvest's slinger, nothing about it communicates "comfort food," nothing about it transports you to another, happier place. we've noticed, too, that there never seems to be as many vegetables as we'd like; instead, the frittata gets dominated by the cheese. we understand that most patrons probably prefer the salty gooeyness of the cheese, and many of you may prefer it, too. we'd just rather have more veggies. so, if you're like us, be sure to order your frittata with light cheese.
as most of you know, we're big supporters of all things schlafly, so it's not like a mediocre portobello sandwich is going to sour us. neither is it likely that we'll ever order a portobello sandwich again, here or anywhere else. as for the brunch offerings, schlafly comes in a close third behind local harvest and sweetart. no doubt, before it's time to pay the piper, we'll be snarfing down grub many more times from all three of these treasures.
vegetarian-friendly score: a-