Fun and Tasty

In the Station Pub and Grill, northwest-siders have a great neighborhood hangout

I'm not a northwest-sider, but several of my friends and co-workers are, and they're always complaining about a lack of decent neighborhood joints—locally owned places where you can grab a cold brew, catch a game, enjoy some grub and feel at home, whether you're with your kids or your fantasy-football buddies.

The Station Pub and Grill, tucked away in a shopping center at Wade and Silverbell roads, is the latest in a string of restaurants to occupy the spot in recent years—and hopefully, the Station's owners will have better luck with their concept than the previous occupants.

The Station is open for lunch, dinner and late-night fare, with the same menu available all day and night. The menu is not overly large, but has a reasonable selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers and a few entrées.

On both of our visits, the restaurant was about half-full, and the service was prompt and friendly. I had never visited any of the establishments that previously occupied the space, so I can't compare, but the décor is warm and welcoming, with cushy booths, a sleek bar area and several large flat-screen TVs scattered throughout, ensuring prime sports-viewing at pretty much every seat in the house.

The beers are cold and reasonably priced, and there's a decent selection of both draught and bottled beers—about 15 on tap, and another dozen or so in the bottle. A 16-ounce Firestone Union Jack ale and a 20-ounce Guinness set us back $5 each, and the 16-ounce Fat Tires were $3.75 each. (All draught beers except Guinness are available in a 16-ounce or a 22-ounce size.)

The food is simple, inexpensive and good. It isn't fancy; it isn't gourmet; it is, with a few exceptions, tasty. The jalapeño poppers ($5.99) were far and away our favorite dish after our visits. Halved lengthwise, filled with a nice bit of cream cheese, wrapped in bacon and grilled until the bacon was crisp and caramelized, the poppers were served with a sweet-and-spicy raspberry-chipotle sauce. They were spicy, delicious and a welcome departure from the greasy, mass-manufactured deep-fried poppers too often on appetizer menus.

My Western BBQ burger ($8.99) was also very good—the burger was cooked to medium, as specified, and it was juicy and flavorful. The combination of onion ring, bacon, provolone and burger was well-balanced. The BBQ sauce wasn't so sweet as to dominate the entire dish, and the bun was soft, buttery and not too bready.

The cheesesteak ($7.99) and the turkey melt ($7.99) were also pretty good, though the cheesesteak was a little light on the cheese and heavy on the bread, and the turkey melt could have spent a minute or two more on the griddle. Both sandwiches had great flavors and were both quite filling; the green chile on the melt was an especially nice addition.

Portions are very generous at The Station—the sandwiches and burgers are large and then topped off a huge handful of fries, sweet-potato fries (which are absolutely delicious) or onion rings ($1 extra). The entrée portions are even larger—Ted ordered the battered cod ($10.99), which came with two side choices. The cod was light and moist; the batter was crispy, but it could have used a little more seasoning, though it was improved with a squirt of lemon and a dash of salt. The heap of steak fries that came with his fish were also well-cooked but under-seasoned; sadly, the coleslaw was limp and a bit disappointing.

All in all, The Station is a great corner pub with hearty portions of tasty, simple food where you can get a cold pint of decent beer for a reasonable price. The kitchen is quick, and the waitresses are friendly. There's not much more you can ask for on a football Sunday.