Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Highball

I met a friend for dinner recently at the Highball before another friend's karaoke birthday celebration. If you aren't familiar with the Highball, they are a combination diner/bowling alley/karaoke club/live music venue, owned by the Alamo Drafthouse people. While karaoke isn't really my thing, it was a good opportunity to try out their main dining room, and get the birthday girl a cocktail before they partied into the night.

I had really wanted a 512 Wit beer, but unfortunately, they were out. Our waiter suggested and then brought me a taste of the Avery White Rascal, and then I got a pint. It was good, but not as crisp as the 512 Wit; still good for sipping though. I appreciated that he brought me a taste of it before making me decide.

For food, I ordered the Wedge salad and asked for the dressing on the side, and the Dr. Pepper Ribs. My friend ordered the blue plate special for the day, which happened to be Thanksgiving dinner. There seemed to be some miscues/miscommunication/mistakes from either the waiter and/or the food runners. The salad arrived (fully dressed, but okay, I let it slide), but we had no silverware, so I asked the runner for some when she brought the food.  She sort of made a face and went over to the waiter, who was finishing at another table, and then one of them brought over the silverware. Little odd.

The salad, fortunately not too badly drenched, was quite good. Nice and crisp iceberg, nice twang to their house-made Thousand Island dressing. Some blue cheese would have been a perfect addition!
Then our main plates came. The Dr. Pepper ribs are "spice infused, Dr. Pepper glazed pork ribs with toasted peanuts." What that description doesn't tell you straight up is that they are a sticky mess! To me, ribs are meant to be picked up with your fingers and eaten straight off the bone (my father sits there with a fork and knife.... I don't get it!), so that just compounded the messiness. The flavor of the glaze and the meat was good, kind of a deep caramelization without being too sweet, but the ribs were sort of tough. They definitely need to be cooked longer to tenderize and make more succulent.
(The ribs just don't photograph well; I took a couple pictures, and this is as good as it gets. There were five ribs, stacked log cabin-style)
As we finished eating, the birthday girl came and joined us for a bit, and also ordered the Thanksgiving plate to go along with her cocktail. Same thing happened. The food arrived, and there was no silverware. I *think* it was the same runner who had previously brought our food, but this time, it took a little longer than it should have for the silverware to materialize. I didn't pay enough attention while there to look at other tables to figure out if it's the host/hostess' responsibility to bring silverware when they seat you, the waiter's job, or the food runner's. It didn't seem that either the waiter or the runner were brand new, but who knows. It left a little bit of an off-impression in my book.

I would easily go back and try some of the other items on the menu. But even me, and my love for pork, I don't think I'd get the ribs again if they're prepared the same way. Just too tough. And messy. One other drawback, it got REALLY loud in there when the band started playing. We were sitting at a table by the front windows, on the far side of the room from the stage, and you had to practically yell to talk to your table companions. I expect that at a concert, but not at a dining establishment. Maybe it's quieter on the bowling side. It was interesting to see that the dinner crowd was a total mixed bag of younger hipsters, older couples, girl's night out, and everything in between. That's South Austin for ya.

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