As almost 30-somethings, our party searched for an upscale patio and dinner experience amidst the college bars and diner food. Town Hall, formerly Brooklyns on Main, seemed a logical solution. With an outdoor patio and (for the area) stylish bar, plus a menu that looked over reasonably priced and more on trend than the local taqueria I had decent expectations.
Launching into this tirade begins with the drink menu. Though at first glance it passes inspection with a menu that surpasses the local watering holes favorited by student locals, the second pass through you catch that a whopping five of their signature drinks are Moscow Mule twists. The Mule, all the rage in 2014, is an acceptable staple on a menu. But to craft five of them, a seeming amalgam of a Google search gone wrong, is a blatant sign of a lack of creativity.
The appetizer menu seemed more promising. Hushpuppies stuffed with andouille sausage caught my attention. I’ve never met a deep-fried bread that didn’t speak to me, and this seemed close enough to a corndog to demand a try. What greeted us on the plate however was a baseball size wad of cornmeal, fried to done on the outside but just barely coagulated at its center. The andouille sausage was diced and barely pronounceable amongst the soupy cousin of corn pone. Strike one.
Stillwater is a community built on cheese fries, and I am a sucker for a dairy laden potato of any variety. The menu promised parmesan and bacon. Parm as we all know is a hard cheese. I expected hard cheese. What I got was parm sauce. Eerily reminiscent to the high polymer plastic bagged cheese that accompanies my favorite gas station hot dog. This white cheese sauce was not parm. But for $7 and combined with ketchup, it was better than the corndogs.
The deviled eggs were my last hold out on the app menu. It is hard to screw up a boiled egg, just boil water. The egg itself I have no objections with, but the bold topping of a whole slice of jalapeno on half of a very mild egg was off putting. A serrano would have made a better choice and still packed the same punch for presentation. Instead, I spent the time chewing the egg crunching around on this pepper wondering when my mouth would be set ablaze, missing entirely anything noteworthy about the egg itself.
Dinner arrived. Just when you think it could not get worse, fate plays the remainder of its hand. I’ve had bad chicken and waffles. I’ve had bad pork chops. But this place combined the two with relative ease. Using boneless chicken breast from a large breast they had fileted in house, the breading on the chicken was the only thing edible on the plate and it was a thinly veiled attempt to camouflage how truly dry and coarse that yard bird was. I feel sorry for the plates creator. The cranberry maple syrup, a bad idea from the onset, reminded me of a breakfast in the same town years ago. Where I had vomited up cranberry-vodka and pancakes in the wee morning hours. Perhaps the chef had the same inspiration? The waffle was soggy and the chicken was fibrous and course. The pork fared no better. Tough, dry and thin; devoid of flavor minus its lacquer like Asian coating and served with canned green beans that were so cooked they were one more boil away from being baby food. The bagged mash potatoes had been shoveled onto the plate with an ice cream scoop, reminiscent of a school lunch serving. I envision it hit the plate with a thud. After pushing the food around the plate: check please.
I am overwhelmingly disappointed that in this town of cheap eats and college favorites I wasted a meal, regardless of how inexpensive the place was. Lesson learned, next time I’m going to Coney Island.