LOGGERHEAD BREW PUB AND RESTAURANT 2006 Vandalia Road, Greensboro\ 292-7676\ Overall rating: **\ Hours: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, noon-midnight Sunday. Reservations not accepted, except for large parties.\ Credit cards: Visa, MC, AmEx\ Sanitation grade: A (90.5)\ Food: - Scratch preparations in pub style.\ Atmosphere: ** - beer/sports decor.\ Service: ** - prompt and pleasant.\ Value: ** - Good food at very reasonable prices.\ Entree prices: $6.95-$10.95.\ Recommended: Homemade Beers; Homemade Potato Chips, Zucchini Wedges, Chicken Tenders, Pepper Jack Chilies, Spiced Shrimp; London Broil, Chicken Parmesan, Manicotti, Fish and Chips.\ Additional information: Handicapped accessibility - most dining on street level. One section two steps up. Non-smoking section available.\ What the ratings mean: No stars, poor; , acceptable; , good; , very good; , excellent; , outstanding.
Loggerhead represents a relatively new concept for the Triad. A glassed front allows a view into an array of stainless steel tanks, where Loggerhead brews five original beers - a regular, a pilsner, a light, an ale and a lager. The former two taste similar to their American counterparts, while the latter three are more full-bodied, yeastier and somewhat sweeter than most domestics. A sampler tray ($2.50) is offered. I liked all five, but my favorites were the Light Beer and a summer special, Wheat Beer.
Decor follows the beer and sports bar theme. The restaurant seems to draw a substantial crowd after 9 p.m. for live music. But the food is good enough to deserve a stronger following for meals, earlier in the evening.Consider the Potato Chips ($2.50, or to go along with several sandwiches). Now, I know people don't think of potato chips as gourmet food. But anything prepared from quality ingredients in a skillful, interesting way is gourmet to me. Loggerhead slices large, fresh potatoes thin, skin intact, then deftly fries them. They are wonderful.
Chicken Tenders ($4.50), or some similar product, are served all over town. But the ones I had at Loggerhead actually bore what seemed to be an original, slightly peppery batter, fried crisp. These actually tasted like real chicken, as opposed to a parts-is-parts product.
Zucchini Wedges ($3.95) consisted of lightly browned strips of fresh zucchini. Pepper Jack Chilies ($4.50) surpassed those at mass-market Mexican restaurants by containing cheese that actually tasted like real cheese, albeit spicy-hot. Onion Rings ($2.75) were tasty, but thick-cut; I prefer a lighter rendition.
Spiced Shrimp ($6.95/half pound, $11.95/pound) struck me as a winner, too. Larger-than-usual shrimp, very flavorful, had been boiled in a moderately spicy broth.
The potato in Turtle Shells ($4.50) bore a mealy, dry texture, though, with limited flavor. The skin did not generate much taste of its own, either, and neither did the cheese. About the only impact came from the smoky ground meat, accented a bit by clipped, fresh chives. This was the sole disappointment of my visits.
Any establishment of this type has to have a good burger. The Brewhouse Burger ($3.95 plus 25 cents per condiment) was pretty large, compared with most Triad renditions, and the beef flavor was good. The texture was fairly gristly, though, and the sesame seed bun looked as if someone in the kitchen had thought about toasting it, then changed his mind.
The entrees, though, gave positive impressions. Olde Cove Fish and Chips ($6.95) came with those homemade potato chips, so I was happy from the start. But the fried flounder impressed me, too - a moderately heavy batter covering fresh-tasting fish, fried just right, so that the interior remained steamy-moist.
London Broil ($10.95) arrived red in the center, with a dark brown exterior, as tender as a flank steak can be. I found the flavor of the thin slices pleasing, but I returned the serving for reheating. Get it hot the first time, guys!
Chicken Parmesan ($8.95) encased a chicken breast in a rich, slightly sweet, herbed tomato sauce with Parmesan cheese - kind of down-home. Manicotti ($7.95) used the same tomato sauce, but placed soft, herbed ricotta cheese between layers of pasta instead of chicken. I would order either of these again, especially at the price.
A special of Barbecued Chicken ($6.95) used a half breast, coated with smoke-flavored barbecue sauce - OK, but it wouldn't win any prizes in an eastern North Carolina cookoff.
All things considered, I enjoyed my recent visits to Loggerhead Brew Pub. Most restaurants in this style serve a lot of mass-produced products that are just reheated in the restaurant. But the dishes I praised above actually tasted as if they had been prepared from scratch. This is a great place for watching sports on one of several televisions. I had a choice between baseball, the Olympics and tennis, without moving my head more than a quarter turn! I could hang out here.
John Batchelor's restaurant reviews appear on the first four Fridays of each month in Weekend. If you have a comment about a restaurant, or want to announce an opening, personnel changes, or whatever, write to him at P.O. Box 583, Graham, NC 27253.