Classic Bar Redux: Glenview House

The Glenview House has been around since 1878, when it was the first operating bar in town.

It’s seen some different owners and a lot of action over the years, but it wasn’t until Steve Podjasek and his brother Michael Canning bought it in 2010 that it got a complete facelift.

The building and restaurant have been significantly rehabbed and the food has taken a new direction. They brought in Chef Grant Slauterbeck, who cooked previously at Keefer’s and Pinstripes, and focused the menu on fresh ingredients, locally sourced and organic when possible. It’s decidedly more upscale than your grandparents’ Glenview House.

Despite the renovation, the mood is still friendly and casual. The menu is a little hit or miss, but what’s good is very good.

The starter selection is extensive and creative, with some updated twists on old bar food favorites. Don’t miss the Pot Roast Nachos ($10), crisp tortilla chips layered with juicy, tender pot roast, black beans, Chihuahua cheese and fire-roasted corn, topped with salsa and a squiggle of sour cream. Great for sharing.

Not so successful was the Chicken & Tabbouleh ($10), which sounded quite promising. Sliced, marinated chicken breast paired with the bulgur- and herb-laced salad, meant to be wrapped in a cool lettuce leaf. But the chicken was on the dry side, and the tabbouleh lacked flavor. Garlic, lemon, and a judicious dose of salt and pepper would have gone a long way to repair the dish. An easy fix.

We were intrigued by the day’s soup ($4), a gingered carrot puree with a garnish of candied bacon. The flavor was all there, a judicious blend of spice and heat and sweet, but it arrived barely lukewarm. We returned it to the kitchen, where it was quickly microwaved and returned to the table. By then, the candied bacon had lost its texture and the moment had passed. A better choice would have been a fresh, hot bowl of soup.

Even if you’re not a “hearty” eater, you’ll love the Smoked Reuben ($11), where the brisket is smoked in-house with Templeton Rye and sliced thinly, paired with Swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut and creamy 1000 Island dressing, grilled up on sturdy pumpernickel. Take a pass on the sweet potato fries (I can’t believe I just typed those words!), which were sprinkled with cinnamon sugar in a well-intentioned but serious miscalculation.

The salads sounded terrific, and all had the option of adding grilled chicken, shrimp, tuna or salmon. Although the Spice-Rubbed Lake Superior Whitefish Salad ($11) with avocado and marinated cabbage was calling our name, we went with the Nicoise ($8) with seared ahi tuna on top ($5 additional).

This was a lovely dish, with the twist of smoked-lemon vinaigrette and a spicy rub on the tuna joining the usual suspects of potato, green beans, mixed greens and olives. I especially grooved on the poached egg on top, which added dimension to the dressing.

I had high hopes for the homemade Grilled Veggie Burger ($9), but it was not happening. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, you get a pasty, gummy burger. This was one of those times. Even the savory pesto and tasty whole wheat bun couldn’t’ save this dish.

Fresh, house-made pasta can be a great thing, but it’s super easy to over cook. Such was the case with the Fettuccine and Shrimp ($16), an otherwise appealing mix of pesto, grilled shrimp, peas, roasted tomato and arugula. The shrimp were big and firm and the portion was generous.

Desserts are all made in house, so we couldn’t say no to the Chocolate Wedge ($6), the Stonehenge of desserts, as it turned out. Two big, beautiful upturned wedges of dense, chocolatey cake with sweet hazelnut frosting in a pool of pureed strawberries and an orange-scented chocolate sauce.

Glenview House is open for lunch or brunch Tuesday thru Sunday, with dinner service every day. This bar is open late: midnight Sunday and Monday, 2 am Tuesday-Friday and 3 am Saturdays. It’s a nice place for a family, a quick lunch, or a serious evaluation of whiskey and the current state of the union. Your choice!

Glenview House
1843 Glenview Road

2.5 out of 5 stars

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