South Anchorage isn't exactly a dining mecca. Sure, there are a few gems, including some truly excellent Asian eateries, a bar with terrific burgers and two very good fine dining restaurants. But avid foodies will be better served in Midtown or downtown. Considering the lack of options, I was heartened when I heard the building on Abbott Road that previously housed chain restaurant Chili's had reopened under new ownership. Seward's Folly Bar and Grill serves standard American fare including burgers, steaks, sandwiches and seafood. The full bar, with 16 beers on tap, will be attractive to many. The restaurant also boasts a patio, which (fingers crossed) should get some play this summer.
I stopped in for dinner on a recent Monday. The dining room had a decent number of tables filled and a few folks were watching a baseball game in the bar area. The owners have done an admirable job de-Chili's-izing the space. The garish Southwestern-inspired décor has been replaced by neutral tones and understated lighting. Tasteful black-and-white photographs adorn the walls.
I was greeted by a friendly hostess and escorted to my table. One of the wait staff was along shortly to fill my drink order and deliver a basket of bread.
I perused the menu, which consisted of nearly 20 appetizers, soups and salads, sandwiches, burgers and entrees. Appetizers range from standard bar fare like nachos ($12.95) and wings ($11.95), to pricier options such as steamer clams ($18.95) and Alaska king crab ($19.95). Though the offerings at Seward's Folly tend to be meat and seafood-heavy, vegetarians will be pleased to see a Thai-inspired tofu burger ($12.95) on the menu, as well as Mediterranean fettuccine ($15.95) and a mac and cheese with tomatoes and spinach ($12.95).
Channeling Ron Swanson of "Parks and Recreation," I opted for the mixed grill ($22.95), a true meat-fest of peppercorn-rubbed sirloin steak, barbecue pork ribs, Andouille sausage, grilled chicken and rice pilaf and vegetables.
I waited a little longer than average for my food -- probably in the neighborhood of 25 minutes -- but the mixed grill was worth it.
As ordered, the sirloin was perfectly medium rare and boasted a nice pepper sauce that complemented rather than overpowered the taste of the beef. The "smoked" ribs didn't deliver a ton of smoke flavor, but they were moist and fall-off-the-bone tender. The rib sauce had a strong lime flavor that was very nearly overpowering, but it grew on me after a while. The grilled sausage was what you would expect, which was fine with me (no need to gild the lily), and the chicken breast was surprisingly moist and delicious with a light, soy-based marinade.
The Tex-Mex rice pilaf was hearty, if a little gummy, but the good-size portion of broccolini was done to perfection and dressed in a carrot/jicama slaw that was crisp and refreshing.
Overall, the meal exceeded my expectations and it's one I would happily order again.
I stopped by Seward's Folly a few days later for a quick lunch. This time I opted for the potato skins ($9.95) off the appetizer menu, as well as a small house greens salad ($4.95).
The salad was fairly standard, which is what I'd wanted. The veggies were nice and crisp, and the dressing was served on the side per my request.
I was pleased with the potato skins, which were served piping hot. The menu said they were flash fried, and they did boast a crisp-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside texture I don't get when I make them at home in the oven. They came topped with the requisite cheese, bacon and green onions, though some fresh tomatoes or pico de gallo would have kicked them up a notch.
All in all, Seward's Folly is a welcome addition to south Anchorage. Whether it's beer and nachos or a nice sit-down meal, the pleasant atmosphere, convenient location and tasty food should make this eatery a south-side staple.
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By Carly Horton Stuart
Daily News correspondent