Friday, June 3, 2011

Hermitage Grill: Retro and Respectable

What a difference a year makes!

When I last blogged about the Hermitage Grill last March, here, it was a much different place than it is now, as I discovered at lunch today.

It's still got elements of the retro (the RC Cola clock and Lakeside Pharmacy Rx sign both still firmly in place), but the raunchy elements were renovated out with last year's fire.

The former front screen door is now a tasteful glass door on the side with a case of desserts just inside to help guide your entree ordering.

The bar now seats six instead of three, a huge improvement, although the tables are just as jammed in. Everything looks crisp, clean and less like your parents' neighbor's basement bar than it used to.

Even the "patio" such as it was (picnic table on gravel with crab cans for ashtrays) has been spiffed up with a curving metal railing and the table as the centerpiece. Thankfully, the crab cans remain or I would have had to say something.

The place was new to my lunching companion, although he knew one of the servers and had told her he'd come by (it had been my idea to do so, but he didn't mention that).

Although tempted by the rockfish nuggets, he went with mesclun green salad with rare jerk tuna and I got the iceburg wedge with bacon, roasted tomatoes, onion straws and Gorgonzola.

Any virtue I might have felt for ordering a salad went out the window when I saw the generous amounts of bacon, Gorgonzola and onion straws on it, but it was the warm roasted grape tomato halves that were the highlight. It was a unique touch to an old-school salad.

Friend raved about his salad and its complementary soy/ginger dressing and the tuna serving was so generous he offered me a taste. We were both too full to investigate the tempting-looking red velvet cake we'd spied on the way in.

As for the formerly  raunchy part, a trip to the bathroom proved that there's no longer any way to see one's naughty bits in the mirror without some major effort. The close quarters and the painted mirror that made it happen are history.

As with all progress, there are tradeoffs. We lost the bathroom view, but we've still got the crab can ashtrays. The menu was simple but the food satisfying. Happily, the bar stools are mismatched.

All is not lost, it's just served up differently.

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