As a food writer, I'm always hoping to discover exciting new dishes. Whether it's something exotic from a distant country or something from the imagination of a talented local chef, I love to come across culinary surprises.
But sometimes I just want a cheeseburger and not an oxtail bao. Sometimes I'd prefer meatloaf to a Moroccan goat tagine. And sometimes I just want plain old mac and cheese instead of something au fromage. Enter 907 Alehouse & Grill, the new eatery just north of Dimond on Old Seward. If you're craving friendly, familiar American fare, the menu here will scratch your itch.
The dining room itself is enormous. A huge bar with an impressive lineup of beer taps dominates the room. Additional bar seating, clusters of high tops and ample dining table seating forms the periphery. One corner of the room is dedicated to pool tables. Another area is set up for live performances. When the room is full it can almost feel like four different parties going on simultaneously.
But first and foremost, 907 Alehouse & Grill is, unapologetically, a sports bar. We counted no fewer than 38 TV screens, all tuned into various games on a recent Friday night. This is either a draw or a repellent, depending on your point of view.
I'm not much of a sports fan, so I prefer to avoid sports bars when there is an important game on. But on a recent Friday evening, this wasn't a particular problem — low stakes games that night, perhaps? The room was cheerfully noisy, but not distractingly so.
The menu is straightforward — a bar food "best of" that reads like an expanded kids menu — burgers, tacos, sandwiches (including a reindeer hot dog), a list of macaroni and cheeses (including a vegan option), some salads and a few comfort food entrees like fish and chips and meatloaf. This is a simple, crowd-pleasing menu.
We ordered some poutine (french fries topped with gravy and cheese, $9). I'm so happy to see this simple, decadent comfort dish popping up on local menus. We also ordered fried cheese curds ($8). Let's just say that we're not much for calorie counting. The fries were good — crisp, well-seasoned and amply draped in a thick, flavorful gravy with pools of cheese dotting the dish. I'm not proud of how much of it I ate. The curds were equally satisfying and, let's face it, guilt-inducing. Crispy, with a flavorful batter, they came to the table hot and gooey.
I opted for the Philly cheesesteak sandwich ($14) while my husband, as is his wont, went for macaroni and cheese. My sandwich was generously portioned and … fine. It was generally tasty if not remarkable. It was a case of culinary deja vu. I felt like I had eaten that sandwich before.
My husband's mac and cheese with bacon ($12) was, appealingly, served in a hot cast-iron skillet. It was creamy, generously cheesy (with real-tasting cheese), nicely studded with bacon and overall satisfying. Was it an innovative dish? No. Did it hit the spot? Most definitely.
At some point during our meal, an accomplished saxophonist, who goes by the name of Kill Bill, bravely took up a battle with the 38 screens. Strains of Marvin Gaye accompanied our nearby TV's silent depiction of women's wrestling. It was kind of weird but, somehow, pleasantly weird. Easy listening jazz? Check. Women fighting in singlets? Check. Fried cheese? Check. It was an eclectic mix of sensations and, somehow, I was there for it.
We returned a few days later for lunch with our older daughter in tow. I was not mistaken in my "kids' menu" assessment. She's 16 and, to be fair, a pretty adventurous eater, but after glancing at the menu offerings, she quickly declared, "These are all of my favorite things."
We started with an order of chicken wings ($8). They offer four varieties — we opted for classic Buffalo. Wings are a controversial, if not polarizing, menu item. Some of my favorites in town are on the bottom of other wing lovers' lists and vice versa. These were right up my alley. Crispy, meaty, with an assertive but not tongue-burning heat level. (Wings Wednesday offers these up at $1 each).
My husband ordered tacos ($12), which come in three varieties: chorizo beef, cod and potato. Our server was nice enough to accommodate his wish for one each of beef and cod. The chorizo taco was pleasantly savory and the ingredients were fresh and well-balanced. The cod taco was unexpectedly and deliciously spicy with a nice, lingering after-burn. My husband mitigated the effects with a 20-ounce Double Shovel cider.
My daughter's bacon cheeseburger ($13) was great to look at, but the beef patty itself was rather bland and cooked to a well-done temperature instead of the "medium" that she requested. That said, it was generously heaped with fresh, crispy vegetables, cheese and thickly sliced bacon, so she was far from dissatisfied.
But the star on the table and, in fact, the highlight of both visits was the meatloaf sandwich ($13). It may seem weird to get excited about meatloaf. The name can evoke a warming tray of sad, gray slices in a school cafeteria. While depressing when done poorly, meatloaf is delicious when done well. A good meatloaf is, to me, the perfect comfort food. And this is good meatloaf. The thick slice was moist, flavorful and well-seasoned, with lovely, crunchy bits of ever-so-slightly burnt crust. This sandwich is topped with a cheddar ale sauce, crispy fried onions and a fried egg, which turns this homely, modest dish into something wildly decadent.
907 Alehouse offers straightforward, well-executed bar food in a straightforward sports bar atmosphere. That's good news for sports fans. Throw in a live saxophone cover of "Careless Whisper" and an amazing meatloaf sandwich? That's good news for the rest of us.
907 Alehouse and Grill
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Location: 8001 Old Seward Highway
Contact: 907-868-4000 and facebook.com/907alehouse