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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Grandin Village's 1906 Ale House offers delectable comfort food

The applewood bacon burger ($10) is loaded with bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayonnaise and is usually served with fries. Onion rings are a side option.

Photos by Stephanie Klein-Davis | The Roanoke Times

The applewood bacon burger ($10) is loaded with bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayonnaise and is usually served with fries. Onion rings are a side option.

A trio of delectable desserts includes molten fudge brownie, chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream and creme brulee topped with a mint leaf ($3 each or $7 for the trio.)

A trio of delectable desserts includes molten fudge brownie, chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream and creme brulee topped with a mint leaf ($3 each or $7 for the trio.)

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1906 Ale House, the Grandin Village pub that opened last October in the space formerly occupied by The Isaacs Mediterranean restaurant, offers a wide variety of craft beers on tap and a menu that ranges from simple to sophisticated. The name is an homage to its Roanoke neighborhood, commemorating the year the village was founded.

The vibe

The bar and dining room feature soft lighting, a tin ceiling and lots of dark wood. A pair of pocket doors open to a separate dining space for large parties or for overflow on busy nights. A small stage is located at the back of the dining room.

The food

Any good pub should have a variety of interesting beers on tap. My dinner guest and I started our first visit to 1906 Ale House with a pair of drafts: I sampled the Blond Hunny Ale ($6) from Wild Wolf Brewery in Afton, and my companion braved Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing Company's Golden Monkey Belgian-Style Ale ($6), which contains 9.5percent alcohol by volume. Both were served in a cold, 16-ounce tumbler and were full-bodied and refreshing.

Our appetizer started the meal on a great note. We ordered the chorizo sausage and queso dip ($8) with house-fried, tri-color corn chips. The chips were warm and fresh with exactly the right amount of salt, the cheese was hot and creamy, and the sausage was zesty but not overpowering. The dish was topped with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro (as a lover of this herb, I would have liked more) and was so tasty we scraped the bowl clean with our chips.

Next, I ordered the delightful "rum drunk" pulled pork Cuban sandwich ($9). Served on toasted sourdough bread, the sandwich includes Swiss cheese, dill pickle slices, shaved ham, pulled pork and caramelized onions. The pork was plentiful, juicy and tender. The sandwich included a side of piping hot fries, which were well-seasoned with kosher salt, pepper and a hint of garlic powder.

My companion had the applewood bacon burger ($10) and chose the Craig County-raised bison from Hollow Hill Farm instead of beef (additional $1). Although the leaner bison was a little dry compared to beef, he was pleased with the burger. It was topped with two thick slices of smoky bacon, enough for every bite of the sandwich.

We finished our evening with a trio of miniature dessert cups ($7). Our creme brulee had the compulsory crisp sugar crust covering the smooth, creamy custard. The caramel apple crisp featured sweet baked apples and was topped with whipped cream and cinnamon, but we did not taste the promised caramel. The molten brownie topped with house-made vanilla ice cream was lava hot, super moist, abundantly rich and by far my favorite of the three.

A pair of guests accompanied me on a Saturday night, and we indulged in two appetizers. The bacon-wrapped scallops ($12) included a half-dozen large scallops encased in bacon that, while very tasty, was unevenly cooked. The lone scallop with the most well-done bacon was a bit overcooked while the other scallops were exactly the right temperature but the bacon was underdone.

The ale-battered scallops with fries ($10) were outstanding. Six large scallops, deep fried in a crunchy beer batter, were sprinkled with parsley and served on a bed of crisp fries. This appetizer could easily make a satisfying entree.

Each of us was pleased with our dinner selection, but perhaps no one was as happy as my friend who ordered the stout-braised short ribs with bordelaise sauce ($22). The Fred Flintstone-sized portion of ribs, dressed but not drenched in the savory brown sauce, slid directly off the bone and was accompanied by a generous portion of creamy mashed potatoes. The bite my buddy was willing to share with me had a crisp outer crust that covered succulent and tender rib meat. It was one of the most comforting tastes I have enjoyed in a long time.

My other dinner guest was treated to a plateful of cheese-stuffed ravioli ($26) in a creamy, garlicky sauce with a trio of shrimp, scallops and crab meat. The soft pasta pillows were light, the cheese stuffing was generous and the seafood was plentiful.

I chose the macadamia encrusted mahi mahi ($22), which was served on a bed of rice and topped with a tomato basil relish. I was impressed by the nutty flavor and texture of the crust and the moistness of the flaky filet. The rice offered a bold, peppery bite, but the relish didn't really add much to the dish.

The bottom line

1906 Ale House is a great addition to the lively Grandin area. We found the service to be prompt, courteous and knowledgeable about the beers, the menu items and the daily specials.

The pub offers a warm, inviting atmosphere and exceptional food and beverages with enough variety to please most any appetite and fit into most any budget. It will be a regular stop for me whenever I am in the village.


1906 Ale House
1910 Memorial Ave., Roanoke
562-8951
1906alehouse.com

>> Cuisine: American pub fare
>> Prices: appetizers, $7 to $12; soups, salads and sandwiches, $4 to $10; entrees, $17 to $28
>> Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. Closed Monday.
>> Delivery: No
>> Reservations: For parties of six or more
>> Payment methods: Cash, major credit cards, personal checks
>> Handicapped accessibility: The Blue Ridge Independent Living Center has determined this restaurant is accessible according to the ADA Checklist.
>> Kid-friendly: Yes
>> Alcohol: Full-service bar
>> Patio seating: No
>> Parking: Street parking, paid parking in lot
>> Wireless Internet: Yes
>> Vegetarian dishes: Yes
>> Live music: Yes
>> Catering: Yes

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