The Original: Dinerant
I recently tried out a new (to me) restaurant with my son and a good friend, The Original at 300 SW 6th Avenue, on Oak and 6th . None of us had been there before, but had heard it was pretty good, and had “comfort” food… although it seemed to me to be somewhat of a mix between comfortable and slightly exotic, depending on your idea of exotic I suppose.
The space itself is welcoming – very light and airy and the windowed front keeps it from feeling in any way claustrophobic – as you can see the area we were seated in was somewhat narrow.
We sat in a booth, right near the door and across from the bar. The servers were very friendly, attentive without being intrusive or annoying and what I really liked is that when our primary server (who will remain unnamed as he requested!) was busy two others chipped in – something I noticed because I’ve been to places where they don’t seem to help each other out and this was very nice treatment.
We ordered several dishes thinking we were getting a good sampling, although with two salads and two orders of different versions of fries, we could have done a little better. Everything was off the happy hour menu and very inexpensive – I think the burger was $5 – with the exception of the salmon caesar salad which was from the regular menu and a little bit pricey but worth it as you can see from the portion size… more than enough to feed one person for sure!
It was delicious, this is one of my favorite meals and something I order whenever it’s offered – one complaint I often have is that the dressing is overdone, saturating the lettuce into sogginess and overpowering in flavor. That was not an issue here, the salad was delicious and the salmon as well. The salmon was slightly undercooked although my friend advised me that was the current trend – a little bit undercooked in the middle – I believe her, just not my preference personally.
My son ordered his standard – a cheeseburger – which is great because kids often aren’t interested in being adventurous when it comes to food, but this was the kind of burger even an adult would appreciate, but still offered at a great price because of the happy hour rates.
He loved it, as well as the fries, which came separately for $2, and which you can see in the background – nothing unusual, just good fries, cooked well, not over seasoned. However. My friend had also ordered a dish that featured fries (along with her dinner salad which we could have skipped one we saw the size of mine…) – a Canadian treat called poutine, which sound really fancy (see? here’s your exotic) but that is really french fries with cheese curds and gravy. This turned out to be a BIG hit – who knew? I may need to demand gravy on my fries at all times from now on – it’s the new ketchup! The cheese curds were similar to mozzarella – chewy and melty and yummy with the gravy – plus we were eating with our fingers so we kind of pulled the fries up with the cheese attached like taffy dripping with gravy. The only complaint on this one was that something was slightly on the salty side, we were thinking it was the gravy – however we still were unable to resist this dish more than any of the others. The photo doesn’t do it justice – next time I’ll pull up the top layer of fries and show the cheese that’s buried treasure underneath – I was too distracted once we began digging in to think to get a shot of that – sorry!
The next little thing was a beef short rib pierogie (yet another word impossible to pronounce correctly the first time but which makes you feel you’ve crossed the line from comfort to fancy food) with carmelized onions. This was tasty, although probably a bit too subtle to be paired with the gravy covered fries, as the flavor was a bit overwhelmed if you were eating both simultaneously as we were. My friend remarked that is was meant to be similar to a dumpling, although it looked almost pastry-like. We decided it was a hybrid of kinds. It definitely didn’t have that flakey-pastry multi-layered texture, however it wasn’t moist enough to be dumpling-like – it seemed as if it had been fried or somehow cooked in a different way than she’d had it before. However, not having had one ever I didn’t notice. It was pretty good. Could have used some gravy maybe though…
We were stuffed, but really wanted to try some desserts and the one’s we chose thankfully were actually a reasonable size – we ordered strawberry shortcake, which was served differently than I’ve had it, with strawberry ice cream on the side but it was very good and a fairly light dessert. My friend ordered a scoop of bourbon, bacon and butterscotch ice cream – I know… but it’s really good! This was on the waiter-who-must-not-be-named’s recommendation and we thought he did a good job on the ice cream suggestion – way to go!
Overall, it was a good experience, we’d go again – probably not ordering quite as much food, but for the amount we did order, the cost was very reasonable especially for downtown – going during happy hour probably helped with that as I did see entrees that were over $20.