All the best stuff, packed into one place. That place? Eats! American Grill. It’s like Uncle Sam got stoned, wrote down all the food he craved, and passed out. Then his sneaky nephew, America itself, went through his star spangled trousers, swiped the list and a wad of dough, and made a restaurant with it. This is that restaurant.
Eats! resides on South Dale Mabry, waaayyy down there past the Krystal Burger and Britton Plaza. The basic idea is this: it’s a bar/grill type restaurant, featuring traditional American dishes from all across the country. I’m not talking hominy and grits, i’m talking American born ultra foods, like HAMBURGERS and CHILI CHEESE CONEYS. If you ever have any doubts that America is great, just grab a Philly cheesesteak or some Buffalo wings, and go to town on them as you think about all those lazy starving kids in their godless third world countries. That is what America is all about.
I was invited to check out Eats! by fellow food-eater Tracy of My Other City By The Bay. She organized a whole nice little event, which supplied me with enough food to feed a small third world country. I had never been to Eats! before, but was delighted to find that the restaurant itself matched the food theme, providing guests with booze and sports television in addition to the food. Also, the kids corner *shudders*. It’s a nice enough atmosphere, reminiscent of a Ruby Tuesday’s. We were seated, and immediately given alcohol. SWEET SWEET NECTAR.
Magic Hat #9 was my choice. Specially brewed by Harry Potter himself, Magic Hat #9 is rumored to be distilled from Dumbledore’s blood. Crisp, a bit bitter, but generally light and mildly fruity. A good beer.
Our drinks were accompanied by Eats!’s in-house made potato chips, which were thick, crisp, and warm. They were served with their fancy homemade ranch dressing, whose secret recipe may or may not involve Mexico. A really solid seasoned sauce.
And the real food begins! We started with sliders, in the style of Jalapeño Pepper Jack, and Black and Blue. The Jalapeño Pepper Jack sliders were decent, but nothing special. The pepper jack and peppers and grilled onions didn’t play into it as strongly as I would hope, and there was no sauce, leaving the burger patty to fend for itself, which I don’t think really works for a slider. The meat was good, but you look for an assortment of exciting toppings in a slider. Exciting toppings like you might find on:
Yes, the Black and Blue is the winner of the two. Blue cheese, to me, is always a risk. I like it, but only in moderation, because I’m too much of a baby to handle it. But the ratio of blue cheese to juicy burger to bun to INCREDIBLE little red onions was perfect, making this a tiny lil’ puck of grilled goodness. Vote YES on Black and Blue.
And there were wings! God I love wings. Shown above, from left to right, are the Cajun BBQ, Sweet Thai, Spicy Chipotle, and Garlic Parmesan. They were all fried and super crispy, which I like, and all decent sized. The best was the Cajun BBQ, a sweet, sticky, spicy mess of awesome. Solid barbecue sauce. Not too spicy, but highly enjoyable nonetheless. The Sweet Thai were just that – sweet. Like a honey sweet. Not bad, but nothing amazing. The Spicy Chipotle were really not all that spicy at all, with a light afterburn to the glaze. And the Garlic Parmesan were a bit of a disappointment, reminding me of Twinz’ traditional wings, mostly just naked, with a bit of garlic and parmesan flavor. I will have to try their Buffalo, to get a real taste of that AMERICANA.
The light spiciness of the wings comes as a bit of a surprise, with the knowledge of Eats!’s Heat Sauce, as featured on their Midwest BLT. This little gem comes standard with bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomatoes, which is a cool twist, on toast, with spicy sauce and giant peppers skewered to them for a touch of in-your-face-attitude. AMERICA STYLE. However, the sandwiches we were given had the “Heat Sauce”, rather than their regular spicy sauce, which was like dropping a nuclear bomb six miles outside of the city – the residual radiation is enough to give your tongue cancer. It was so intensely spicy that I had two bites, and I could not finish the rest. And i am someone who enjoys spicy foods. Now, had this been an eating contest, I could have finished it no problem, but this is not something you would want to eat casually.
Still, points for a fun sandwich. Just don’t ruin it with the heat.
Near the end, they threw a couple more sandwiches at us, including a Philly cheesesteak. I had just recently lamented never having tried a cheesesteak with Cheese Whiz in my review of Philly Phlava, so I was surprised to see this sandwich indeed served with the Whiz. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get the Philly vibe from this sandwich… the meat was just not right. Maybe overcooked? It was a bit tough. I like the idea of the Cheese Whiz, and it was okay, but I’ll have to try it elsewhere because this didn’t meld together right. The bread was decent, though.
And there was the Bin on Weck, which is really a Beef on Weck, which my girlfriend drunkenly called “Bin on Wet”, which I amended to the funnier “Bin on Blech”. However, my feelings do not reflect her negative ones, nor the hilarious joke I made. The Beef on Weck sandwich is from New York, and traditionally consists of roast beef on a kümmelweck roll, served with au jus and horseradish sauce on the side. It is served here with the horseradish sauce directly on the sandwich. I don’t especially care for horseradish, but this sandwich all came together really well for me. I love au jus, and the horseradish was not too intense (much like the blue cheese, so maybe they just know how to portion properly). I think their French Dip would probably be superior, with the addition of cheese and the subtraction of the horseradish altogether, but this is still good. My only complaint would be the intensity of the caraway fruits (strong anise-type taste), which kind of makes it gross. Again, French Dip is probably the way to go.
At the end, we were provided with the amazing Fried Oreo Chocolate Martini, a chocolate martini with a fried Oreo stuck on top. Amazing. It was great. With Oreo crumbles around the rim (totally inspired), it was a sweet and creamy chocolate drink. Like a Yoo-hoo! But with alcohol. And the fried Oreo is so incredible. The drink is great, but definitely something you don’t want to order all the time. Just every now and then, as a special treat. They also serve a Fried Oreo Sundae, which is probably awesome.
SO. All in all, a great time, and a good restaurant. The concept really works for me, but the execution is a bit lacking. Again, it comes into Chili’s and TGI Fridays territory because of the televisions and the bar. I don’t mind the bar, but a straight up focus on the foods and the areas they come from would probably be to their benefit. And some of the regional dishes were not up to par, which was disappointing. I want this to be the first place I think to go to when I want a Philly, but I think maybe it’s impossible to maintain excellence among such a variety of dishes. HOWEVER, they do have this:
…which is exactly like the Big Belly Burger Challenge, which is the first thing I think of when I think the word “excellence”. So there’s that!