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 QCFreightHouse.com, 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.