Update: The restaurant has closed as of 7/23/11
We went looking for the E3 Bistro, listed on a restaurant website at the above address - oops! Out of business and replaced by Tailgater’s. It was obviously no longer a bistro but we stopped in. It’s a large sports bar and was quite empty (when we left at 1:30, there was no one else in the place except two people playing shuffleboard). A blond-wood half-moon shaped bar holds center court, booths line two walls, with a small stage and dance floor taking up the corner. Pool tables and shuffleboard take up the other end of the bar and a multiple of small tables fill in the rest of the space. The walls are dark purple or dark red, and the decor overall is gaudy. As befitting a sports bar, TVs are everywhere but there are no large projection TVs found in better sports bars. Mixed in around the TVs are tailgates, gators, beer signs (my favorite are the mirrored beer signs with an animal painted on them) and a lot of team sports flags. The whole effect is garish.
There were a few people at the bar and five other occupied booths, all being served by one server/bartender. (Later another woman appeared and asked us if we were waiting for our check; we were waiting for our food :) But she was friendly, as was our server. The menu is not surprising on the whole, large enough to please everyone, and consisting of appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, subs, pizza, wraps, salads, and five dinner selections. Looking for something out of the ordinary, we chose Irish egg rolls for our appetizer (corned beef, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese wrapped in a wonton and deep-fried). Irish? (Look up Irish egg roll and it’s pretty much not this.) In spite of the misnomer, they were very tasty and not overly deep-fried. They arrived with 1000 Island Dressing for dipping - Reuben anyone? There has to be a better alternative than hauling out the 1000 Island, maybe a mustard sauce of some kind? As in Ottawa Tavern, the appetizer was served without small plates and utensils. So perhaps that’s a sports-bar thing.
One lunch item ordered was a special of the day, Swiss Steak sandwich, and the other lunch selected was the “Patte’s” Melt (beef burger, sauteed onions, American and Swiss cheeses on Van’s English Muffin loaf bread *) with huge onion rings, all of which was nicely done. Condiments are not kept on the table so the Melt came with three small cups: ketchup, bistro sauce (horseradish sauce of some kind), and yes, 1000 Island dressing. The Steak sandwich was a surprise - it came on Texas toast with mashed potatoes, heavily covered with beef gravy. It was something you would expect at a mom-and-pop diner, and although the beef gravy was a bit salty, the beef was tender and everything was quite good (and it didn’t come with 1000 Island dressing). The platters were large and each of us took half of our food home.
A little research on the start of this restaurant, which opened last spring, indicated that the new owners promised their business would be more of a restaurant than a bar, and they were, therefore, allowed a liquor license. Their menu is perhaps more extensive than other sports bars but this is still a bar, albeit with decent food. Dinners feature a Wet Burrito, Taco Platter, Grilled Chicken, a House Sizzler, and Grilled Salmon. Everything is under $10.00, except the Pizzas, and we walked away with a $30.00 tab including tip.
*van’s pastry shoppe, 955 E Fulton St