When a restaurant closes, there’s always a question about what comes next.
If we are lucky, a new restaurant arrives, one that is better than the one that it has replaced. That’s what happened with the Van Reed Inn.
The new incarnation of the Van Reed Inn opened in December of 2014 after some much-needed renovations.
One year later, the restaurant along Route 183 north of the city still looks like new. The bar and dining area are enclosed in a single room with 10 tables — four of them two-seat high-tops — and sixteen stools on the bar.
A pool table sat idle at one end of the room. On the opposite wall was a menu board with the days specials that lit up in shades of yellow, green, red and blue. An adjacent room is used for take-out orders.
Julie and I arrived around 6:30. For a Thursday night, it seemed like a good crowd. Half of the tables were full. The same could be said about the stools. Both filled up more by the time we left.
We sat ourselves at one of the high-tops and waited a few minutes for the menus. The restaurant seemed to be a little short-staffed with only one waitress to take care of the tables and a bartender for those on the stools.
When our waitress did arrive, she was very pleasant and apologetic for not getting to us sooner. After that, she was extremely attentive for the rest of the night.
We were both getting a little hungry so Julie put in an order for wings to get us started. They have 15 different flavors on the menu. All of them sounded amazing, but we settled on the chipotle ranch.
Six meaty wings arrived coated in the creamy sauce. The wings are smoked, and the flavor from the smoker shines through it all. They had a nice crisp outer layer (from their trip through the fryer). The sauce was delicious, giving all of the flavors of ranch plus that added southwestern kick. It was a great start to the meal.
I had more wings yet to come as part of my BBQ platter.
A sampling of Van Reed Inn’s smoked favorites, the platter included beef brisket, pulled pork, four wings and two sides.
The best thing on the plate had to be the wings. I was going to order the “Irish Pride” flavor (spicy garlic BBQ), but saw the daily special: lemon garlic. They were nearly perfect with great citrus flavor, slightly sour, and just enough garlic to give it a kick. Once again the smoke shone through and complemented the other flavors nicely.
Another stand-out from my plate was the beef brisket. Six slices with no sauce to hide the flavor. Instead, they were coated in a simple, but delicious dry rub. It had a little extra sugar for a sweet after-taste.
The pulled pork wasn’t bad either, though I wasn’t a big fan of the sauce. I would have liked it better if it had been served dry like the brisket, maybe with a little sauce on the side.
On the side, I ordered sweet potato fries and broccoli (which makes it a balanced meal, right?). The sweet potato fries were really good, fried to a golden brown.
Across the table, Julie was enjoying her pulled pork in the form of tacos. The pulled pork was more enjoyable mixed with the cheese sauce and coleslaw.
The three tacos were filling, but not too heavy that she couldn’t finish her fries. The fresh-cut potatoes were very good and worth forcing every last bite.
When we were finished, I was pleasantly surprised to see that we had only spent a little more than $30 for our meals. I was expecting a bigger price tag for the amount of food that we ordered.
Not every restaurant revival works which is why we celebrate the successes.
Van Reed Inn is a certainly a success.