Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Eagle OTR:

Momentum can be a tricky thing. Sometimes a frenzy of work is going on behind the scenes, invisible to passersby, very similar to a store or restaurant preparing to open with paper on the windows preventing you from peeking.

And then, BAM! All the sudden there’s a flurry of activity, a grand opening, a successful restaurant, then another, then shops, then condos, and apartments, and pizza and donuts and fried chicken and tacos and hey when did Rookwood Pottery open up? At least that’s how we feel about Vine Street North of the Gateway Quarter.

The development of Mercer Commons has sparked another step North for the revival of Vine St, and it’s clear by this point that the momentum—while small at first, has picked up speed and isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Which brings us to the fried chicken. The Eagle, opened in an Old Post Office by the folks that run Bakersfield and Currito, is a welcome addition to Vine St.

We recently stopped by to try a variety of things on the menu and take some photos—you’ll see some here and some out and about on The Eagle’s social feeds. We’ve been in for lunch twice now.

Prices are all very reasonable, and the beer selection features a variety of Belgian beers amid local selections and usual suspects, which we appreciate. A bourbon barrel ale—one of my favorites and a benchmark for beer prices in restaurants in my book—is a fair $6. If you’re feeling especially classy, you can get a glass chalice filled with High Life for $2. They also offer growler fills (according to the menu) which I think is pretty awesome. The OTR iced tea is very tasty and packs a punch, as does the Moscow mule, served in a giant glass mug.

One of my favorites from Weyerbacher
The Mule
OTR Iced Tea will kick your ass

If you look for it, the Bakersfield influence is definitely there—the chips, the hot skillets for the dishes, the signature cocktail in the large pitcher format, the inexpensive beer in the quirky glass. The menu is small, which allows for fine tuning, and so is the space—it can get rather loud when it’s busy. Which is often. The Eagle is open Sunday, which is the day we recommend if you don’t want a long wait. If you’re looking for more of a kid friendly restaurant on Vine that still has a killer adult beverage selection, the Eagle is your place—they even have high chairs.

We’ve tried everything on the menu except the pork sandwich, the collards and one of the salads. The cheesy dip gets a twist with the addition of kale, so you can at least feel somewhat redeemed from indulging in it.

New Years Resolution to eat more kale? Problem solved.

We’ve tried 2 of the 3 salads, which are nicely composed. I appreciated the cornbread croutons on the kale salad, which are fun. Vegetarian options at the Eagle include two of the salads, some of the appetizers and sides, and the grilled cheese sandwich, which is made with crunchy apples.

Oddly enough, the things we like the most are not their flagship chicken. Both times we’ve visited, we’ve gotten the French dip, which David enjoys for the simplicity and giant cup of au jus, and the mac and cheese, which comes with crunchy bread crumbs and spiral noodles. The chicken sandwich is also a solid bet, and is a very hefty portion for the price.

 I dip you dip we dip

Chicky chicky sandwich

The pickles are made in house and make a nice snack with the hominy, which reminded us of BBQ popcorn.

The sweet potatoes come with toasted marshmallows on top, as all sweet potatoes should. 
There will be marshmallows and don't argue with me on this, you won't win

The fried chicken is pretty solid, but we think they are still nailing down some of the details—salt and black pepper levels have been all over the place.

The breading itself clings to the chicken very well, and I like that you can get white or dark meat pieces. It's served with some spicy, warm honey, which complements the chicken nicely.

And boom goes the dynamite

Juicy white meat chicken ehn-*hance*!

There’s really no question about whether The Eagle is going to do well—they’ve only been open a little while and already have nailed many of the key elements of a good restaurant. We’ll be back!

We do have one question, however:

Seriously, why.

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