MVP Spirits and Grill opened late last month in a small shopping center off South Parkway, in the same location where Broken Clock had been previously. Readers Dawn and Amie both dropped this one in the suggestion box, so when the hubby and I were looking for a “cooking free” Monday night dinner, we stopped in. We were seated promptly and given our choice of table.
I was surprised to see that they had live music on Monday night, and even more pleasantly surprised to find that the featured singer was quite capably doing smokey renditions of pop songs. Unfortunately, the music was crashingly loud, my husband and I gave up on talking because, even at our table for two, we had to lean our heads together and yell to be understood. We spotted a jukebox in a far corner, which suggests that there is music even when it’s not live, though hopefully the volume is a bit more moderate.
The new owners have changed the look. Where Broken Clock was aiming for sophisticated and sultry, MVP has more of a casual, comfortable vibe. In addition to the jukebox, there are two pool tables, foozeball, and a couple of dart boards. The tables in front of the stage were pushed together in long rows, reminding me of a cafeteria. Up by the bar, 4up high tops provided a place for smaller groups of friends. TVs abound and, as you would expect from a restaurant named “MVP”, they were turned primarily to sports. Aside from the TVs, the decor was sparse. A few plaques for local breweries mingled with other memorabilia. After some pondering I realized it reminded me of nothing so much as a newly set up college apartment. Functional and comfortable, but sparse, with more emphasis on hanging the few things you have than on realizing a grand interior decorating scheme.
Monday night meant that appetizers were half off and there was a long list of discounted beer, of which PBR was the only one I could hear as our server rattled them off. I opted for a bacon cheese burger with sweet potato fries while my husband selected a club sandwich with mixed veggies. We added an appetizer of fried pickles to share. I was sorely tempted by the “black rice” featured in the Forbidden Rice Bowl, but I had been craving a burger all day, so I marked that for a future visit.
Our drinks had appeared while we pondered the menu and our appetizer appearedfollowed shortly after we placed our order.
Apparently the fried pickles were supposed to come with our choice of a ranch or cilantro lime dressing for dipping. Our server had forgotten to ask and, to her credit, simply brought us both. The pickles sported a doughy, dusty batter, with a texture similar to fried chicken. The pickles themselves had a bit of spice–it was enough that my mild palate noticed it, but my husband, with his medium palate was completely unaware of it. The ranch dressing was a creamy compliment. If I hadn’t had the ranch for a side by side comparison, the cilantro lime dressing would have been indistinguishable. There was a barely discernible lime flavor but the cilantro was undetectable.
Our entrees were timed impeccably, our server had just cleared the dish from the fried pickles when she returned with our plates.
Ya’ll this burger was ridiculously tall. At some point you start looking like a crazy person taking up-teen-million photos of your towering burger, so just realize that that shadowy area in the middle is the patty and all the toppings. For the most part the toppings didn’t add much to the burger. The thin and ultra crispy bacon, the shredded iceburg lettuce which had absorbed enough juice from the patty that at first I thought it was coleslaw, the small vinegary sandwich pickles, the delightfully crisp and sweet rings of red onion…all were completely lost on the burger. The only topping that held it’s own was the thick slice of flavorful cheddar. The good news is that the patty didn’t need all that nonsense anyway. Thick, juicy, and well seasoned, the patty was flavorful, though a touch over salted. Our server had asked if I wanted my burger cooked medium well and I had acquiesced, since medium/medium-well territory is pretty happy ground for me. The patty skewed more toward medium than well, with a healthy pink color. The bun was a thick, chewy white bread that looked as though it was house made (no standard bagged buns here!). Think over-sized dinner roll and you’ve got the right texture.
The fries were piping hot and double crunchy. The first crunch was from the layer of sea salt, the second from the crispy exterior of the fries themselves. The portion looked skimpy next to my giant burger, but was actually just about right.
My husband enjoyed his meal (shown at the top of this post). I was impressed by the variety of vegetables in his side dish (more than just carrots and broccoli! Hurrah!) and he said they were “very tasty”. His club sandwich featured buttered and toasted bread and he enjoyed the quality meats and fresh tomato but found the sandwich to be overly salty.
MVP occupies an interesting niche. Their menu is more experimental and their ingredients fresher than I would ever expect standard bar food to be. We’re a far cry from stale peanuts and frozen chicken tenders. At the same time, this is not a gastro-pub with dishes born from fine dining and a pricey drinks list. This is a solid list of updated favorites, with a penchant for adding some spice (jalepano ranch on the signature burger, sriracha mayo on the stuffed grilled cheese) and some fun (funnel cake is on their dessert menu. I repeat. Funnel Cake.). If you come expecting a restaurant which happens to have a bar, the ambiance will likely disappoint. But if you come expecting a bar, which happens to have decent food, you will be thrilled. They are still new, and there are some kinks to be worked out in their dishes, but the key elements (like the excellent patty in my burger) are in place. Our server made an unsolicited comment to us about the volume, saying that it wasn’t normally as loud, but live music always seems to trend to the unnecessarily loud. So while I”m hopeful that the ear popping volume was a fluke, I don’t recommend expecting to have long or intimate conversations here. If you are looking for a casual place to catch a football game or unwind over a game of pool, where you can get dinner and drinks without the smoke, this is a good place to check out.
Total for the meal: $23.95 (Included one bacon cheeseburger, one club sandwich, one half price appetizer of fried pickles, and one soft drink)