Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A partial Freight House review

This past Saturday night I had dinner at the Ripley Street Grille, which is the restaurant portion of the Freight House complex. As I've now visited 3 out of the 4 venues, I figured I'd give some of my reactions to each of them. I'm no food and drink connoisseur, (I like Ross', after all) so if you check out the place and totally disagree with my thoughts, don't be shocked. The new website for the entire Freight House complex is, and its got menus and calendars and all that good stuff.

Nan's Piano Bar
I didn't get much of an impression of Nan's, because I was only there for maybe half an hour on a night when there was no piano entertainment scheduled, which meant that the place was deserted. What I can comment on is that it was neat bar, appearance-wise. Its located on the 2nd floor of the Freight House, up the steps from the Ripley Street entrance. There were blue lights, exposed brick, and views of both downtown and the river everywhere you looked. I could tell that its probably a great place on nights with dueling pianos. I give it a B+ because it seems like a waste to have this great bar only busy a few nights a week.

Balls and Pucks Sports Cafe
I stopped down for a fairly quick supper a few weeks ago, and got somewhat of a neutral impression. The service was good, and my food was good, but it just didn't seem to jump out at me as a great bar. The folks I went with were less impressed with their food, and no one was impressed with the fact that their receipts include your entire credit card number. Hopefully they've fixed that. There was a selection of sports memorabilia on the walls, but unimpressive dining furniture. It seemed like extra space that they decided to throw a sports bar into, and I'm guessing that it works well as an area for people to wait in before shows at Penguins. Last Saturday when we walked past it seemed jammed, so maybe there's something I don't see. Until I get a different feel from the place (and check my credit card statement carefully) I have to give it a C+. It did have outdoor seating with a river view, at least.

Ripley Street Grille
I saved the best for last. Its a bit pricey for the pasta, steak, or seafood entrees, but the pizza and sandwiches were a good deal for a nice restaurant. Its not a place I would wear jeans to, but plenty of people were. I definitely like the exposed brick, and large windows that we could look out onto LeClaire Park, the Unity Fest, and the Mississippi from. I got the night's feature, which included pork, sausage, a vegetable medley and beans for $20. All of our food was good, but I will say that this isn't one of those places were the portion size is equivilent to 3 meals of food. That's probably good for our health anyway... and it was really just the right amount to leave room for dessert.

There were a few negatives, however. When calling to make reservations I was put on hold for 10 minutes, hung up, called back, got a busy signal, and then when I got ahold of someone I was told they weren't supposed to be taking any more reservations for that night. Since I'd been stuck on hold for so long they gave me one anyway. After getting there and getting seated, apparently there was a mix-up up front and no waiters were told that they were assigned our table! After 15 minutes or so without even being given water or menus, one of my fellow diners spotted someone working there who she knew, and he quickly remedied the situation. Once they figured out what had happened, the place was extremely gracious about everything, and I'm sure if I was the angry type they probably would have paid for the meal. As it was we got some free drinks and dessert. That sounds pretty bad when I type it all out, but it wasn't as big of a deal when you're out for an evening. If we'd been in a hurry, it may have been another story. I mostly chalked it up to them being new.

So overall, I feel they're probably getting a few kinks worked out, and seem to be shaping up into a nice restaurant for downtown Davenport. Without our unlucky mixup, my only complaint would have probably been that the prices were a bit steep. The Turtle Cheesecake pretty much made up for everything anyway, so I'll give it a B+.

I haven't been there yet, but I'm kind of hoping to go see Norm MacDonald there on the 23rd. It was absolutely jammed last Saturday, and the QCTimes' David Burke gave it the thumbs up, so I suspect it will do ok. Its a better location by far than being tucked away in a casino strip mall. I believe the new Freight House complex has a better chance of succeeding than any of the previous attempts.


Matt said...

it's too bad the service wasn't so hot at Ripley. there seems to be little pockets here and there throughout the QCs where restaurant service is abysmal, and i hope we collectively work through it. personally i never have any luck at Le Mekong - service is bad there; really bad.

has anyone heard anything about more cleaning up of the front of the freight house? i'm not sure why it hits a nerve with me more than other places, but if there were ever a "get together to pull some weeds, clean up the sidewalk, and get some greenery in planters out front" day, i'd volunteer some of my time to help.

Anonymous said...

If you want great food at a reasonable price, go up the street a block and try 'Sippi (sp) on Ripley and Second Street. We have been there 6 or 7 times this summer and have eaten outside every time.

Anonymous said...

I dont know if youve ever travelled outside the US but waiting 15 mins to be served is nothing! We dont really appreciate how nice american service is. That said, given the ubiquity of restaurants with good service places that make you wait look bad comparatively.
On a different note
We need some sort of better public transportation to serve our area nightlife. I would like to see an equivalent to the new metro(link) late night service in the Iowa QC. We could market it as a way to both reduce drunk driving and to stimulate the downtown scene.
Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Matt: If I recall correctly, a re-do of the sidewalk and adding ornamental lighting in front of the Freight House is in the city's capital budget and is a project that is scheduled to be done next spring.

Anonymous said...

You really should have gone to Nan's on a normal night with entertainment, the place is packed. And when I say packed, I mean people being turned away because the place is at capacity.

It's a good time, try and go for dueling pianos next time, or go for a single piano/jazz band night for more breathing room.

Anonymous said...

I dont know if youve ever travelled outside the US but waiting 15 mins to be served is nothing! We dont really appreciate how nice american service is.

Where outside the US are you talking? I've done quite a bit of traveling outside the US, and I would say that US restaurant service is pretty much in the middle of the pack. In some parts of Europe and South America, the staff may take their time getting to you, but 15 minutes is an eternity. If you're waiting 15 minutes for a menu, it's either the most laid-back place on earth, or the waitstaff is quietly hoping you'll leave.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, like China, it's not uncommon for a waitress to bring you the menu and stand there waiting until you've made your decisions. I've been to numerous restaurants in China where it was only about 5 minutes from walking in the door to freshly made hot food on the table (and for about $1-2 per person, too).

Anonymous said...

OMG - I just saw this sign for myself. Tomorrow they will be unveiling the "Dee F. Bruemmer Public Works Building." Pretty sad when Charlie Brooke died they had to fight over even naming a conference room after him and this woman gets a building and she isn't even dead? I think it's a wildly inappropriate gesture. Once again I am embarrassed by our fair city. If they had to name something after her, it should be the west end sewer tunnel. Much more fitting.

Anonymous said...

Tell me about the fight over naming a library conferewnce room at west after Charlie Brooke. What exactly happened and who was involved. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling.

jeff1982 said...

Just left Nan's tonight. WHAT A JOKE. Several of us, approximately 13 where in attendance and all paid the cover charge ($7) and sat at the bar. Eventually they placed "reserved" signs at our seats and told us we had to move because they had a large party comng in to take our places. The place was packed, no other seats where avaliable, so we were forced to stand in the middle of a table encroached area. The manager I spoke with was a joke, if he was even a manager at all. The entertainment was excellent, th service TERRIBLE, I would never return.