Saturday, December 10, 2011

1899: A Review

Last weekend we were treated to a nice night out with Berkeley's parents. Originally, we had planned on going to Pato Thai in the downtown area. The weather definitely foiled our plans and we chose to try NAU's new bar and grille, 1899. The 1899 Bar & Grill claims to be a fusion of a "turn-of-the-century American bistro with a contemporary steakhouse flair, featuring many foods native to the Southwest." We were intrigued and were interested to see how this campus dining location stood up to other restaurants of its caliber in Flagstaff.

Named after the Universities founding year, the restaurant opened in the furthest North building on campus. This building was previously used as the Admissions office, with a diner in the back (one of my favorite on campus eateries). I was excited to see that they kept many of the original materials of the historic building such as the gorgeous, original copper fireplace hood and the brick walls. The atmosphere was reminiscent of the old office for both Berkeley and I since we had spent plenty of time there. To any other non-alumni visitor, the resemblance might not be as clear as there were plenty of big changes including what I like to call "mood lighting". It definitely did not have the "collegiate dining" ambiance I was expecting even though the restaurant is listed as a separate entity.

We had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated, which is standard for Flagstaff. It took awhile to make up my mind as everything sounded delightful. I ordered the half rack of ribs described in the menu as being "uniquely seasoned" and was served with their smokehouse BBQ sauce. The entree came with sauteed broccolini and my choice of Mac and Cheese as a side.Prior to the entree being served, guests are served a bread basket with three different flavored butters and olive oil and vinegar. Of the flavored butters, the Prickly Pear was my favorite, but there was also a pesto and cream butter. The Prickly Pear butter was smooth with a subtle sweetness. The butter left me excited for the main course.
Unfortunately, the Friday night we chose to go was a "First Friday" and the storm drove everyone inside. That also meant the service was pretty slow. When our food was finally served, overall I was pleased despite the "slapped together" look! Although the seasoning was not noticeably unique, the meat was tender and juicy. The Mac was a little under seasoned, but personally I prefer tons of black pepper in my Mac and Cheese.

Another downside was Berkeley's meal. He ordered the Achiote Brisket. Sadly, it tasted overcooked and seemed to be drowned in sauce to cover the flavor of the meat. The advertised achiote flavor was missing. It was a real let down. We are hopeful that the lackluster brisket and slow service were due to the amount of people there and are open to returning.

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