We often talk about “meat and potatoes” like “bread and butter” — a go-to staple in any person’s diet.
But the restaurant Meat & Potatoes, with its only location downtown on Penn Avenue, serves up fare that is anything but conventional.
Meat & Potatoes, which debuted in spring 2011, is a gastropub, self-defined as “a public house that serves high-end or craft food and libations that also focuses on the fundamentals of food and education.”
When you first walk into the dimly lit restaurant, rows of preserved vegetables line the walls surrounding a pleasant, comfortable seating area for guests to wait.
After a short wait, my family and I sat in the second of the two dining halls at a cozy table in the corner. Before reviewing the vast menu of simple and intricate meal options, we looked around, surprised to see the many different menus from other high-class restaurants framed on the walls — an inventive idea.
Meat & Potatoes’ menu contains a healthy balance of “snacks” and “appetizers,” but the difference lies in portion size. From the snacks section, we ordered the grilled bread with goat butter and jam, the fried taters with black truffle mayo, the fried brussels sprouts with lemon aioli and the Kobe corn dog served with wasabi aioli, spicy ketchup and radish and topped with sesame seeds.
As an appetizer, we tested our food limits by taking a risk and ordering the bone marrow served with grilled bread, gremolata — a dressing made with chopped parsley, garlic, lemon zest — onion relish and sea salt. Although it’s considered a delicacy in other countries, I couldn’t stomach the bone marrow like the rest of my family did — eating protein the texture of gelatin, sourced from the inside of an animal’s bone, is not the most appealing thought to me.
While this may seem like a feast alone, the snacks are modest, individual portions, shareable for our party of four. Out of the snacks we ordered, my favorite was the brussels sprouts. Served in a small paper dish with the aioli on the side, these small morsels go down smoothly, the light dusting of cheese on top adding the perfect hint of saltiness.
The bar and dining rooms are just beyond the waiting room, and they’re all filled with chatting couples and families enjoying their meals — prepared by chef and owner Richard Deshantz — in a comfortable medium between casual and upscale.
For the main course, we ordered the “Meat & Potatoes for Two,” served on a giant butcher block piled high with a 34-ounce ribeye, confit steak fries, house-made steak sauce and bone marrow gratin.
The presentation might have made surrounding diners question where on the menu they could find such a work of art. Additionally, I ordered the pork belly tacos, complete with mole sauce, sesame seed crema, pico de gallo, pickled cabbage, cojita cheese and cilantro. Overall, the tacos were middling. I’m not the biggest fan of steak, but I was jealous that I did not partake in consuming the ribeye.
I’m sad to report that we were too full to order from the dessert menu, which includes the chocolate pot de crème and cinnamon roll.
After chowing down on such a delectable, rich combination of snacks, appetizers and main courses, I recommend Meat & Potatoes as a fancier restaurant that goes beyond simple staples.