Sunday, August 23, 2009

Spenard Roadhouse

A recent addition to Anchorage's restaurant lineup, Spendard Roadhouse is a great stop for anyone looking for casual dining a little off the beaten path. The ambiance and menu put it in the same category as City Diner - and that's a good thing.
The building itself seems like a renovated and funkified former Pizza Hut. The decor is of the "junk stuck to the walls" school, which I have always had a sneaking fondness for. If nothing else, it gives you something to look at while you are waiting for your food :) They also have a nicely appointed patio. While normally I am all about eating on patios, the setting, overlooking scenic Northern Lights Blvd, made us decide to just stay inside. We sat near the bar, giving me a chance to look over the liquid offerings. The drinks promise to be a big part of the place's appeal - they infuse their own flavored boozes. But the sun was not over the yardarm at the time of our visit, so I reluctantly passed on a drink. (But I will be back, and I'll let you know if their drinks are as delicious as they sound.)
Anyway, it was lunchtime, so Mr EA and I each had a sandwich. He had a Cubano, which he said was one of the top 5 sandwiches he had ever had. The pork flavor dominates, which is a good thing as this is pretty good pork BBQ. I had the Toasted Veggie sandwich, which was also excellent. The veggies are cooked just enough to soften them and intensify their flavors, but not so much that they were mushy and wet.
In some restaurants, the sides are just sort of there to fill up the plate, feeble lackies to the main dish. In others, they steal the show (White Spot french fries, I'm looking at you). Here they are equal partners with the main meal item. At least, it is if you are getting the, yes, tater tots. The presence of tater tots on the menu has been one of the interest points with this place. It's the one thing everyone mentions - whether they approve of tater tots in general or not. Mr EA loves tater tots. I could take them or leave them - they are really easy to mess up, though logic dictates that this should not be the case. Spenard Roadhouse does them right - crisp, not soggy, a little greasy but not dripping with oil. If you must eat tater tots, this is the place to do it. They are the most visible examples of Spenard Roadhouse's general aesthetic - self consciously clever and ironic takes on standards, and elevated middlebrow treats. And that's a good thing.
Prices are not low, but the food is good enough to justify the cost. Next time you are in a funky mood and near midtown, swing by - you'll be glad you did!

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