It's obvious the Olde Fort Pub is trying to evolve. With or without the impending smoking ban, Danny Krebs and Bob Arnzen are giving those both for and against a new option.
The back area of the establishment has been converted to a non-smoking area, family-friendly dining room.
- Lots more menu items
- Six for $6 Lunch Combo
- Heated deck area in the back
As I walked past Scotty Anderson unloading his musical paraphernalia, I saw familiar faces spread about like confetti thrown in the air. I wanted to walk straight back to the non-smoking area to see if I could tell a difference. Indeed, I could. As the night went on, into the non-family hours, it did seem to waft back - but I doubt that would bother anyone at the pub during those times.
I poked my head into the kitchen and saw Danny and Jake Krebs grinding out their orders. I was anxious to see what changes were made to the menu. What was a small, more bar oriented menu before had expanded to a multitude of starters soups, salads and my favorite - paninis.
My bride's standard order - the garlic white bean hummus - was consistently flavorsome. I almost opted for the jalapeno popper, which came with a homemade pineapple plum sauce for dipping before we decided to try one of the new appetizers - the fried pickles - which came with a spicy, creamy horseradish sauce.
They came out piping hot, and we dove right in. Big mistake, as I still have the remnants of a burnt roof of my mouth this afternoon. After being a little more deliberate, the flakiness of the batter contrasted really well with the cool, tartness of the pickle spear. The horseradish was a must - adding just the right amount of kick. When my bride wasn't looking, I pulled a Costanza and double dipped.
We had some friends come up as Adam Zepf's benefit began to overlap, so we ordered the Pub Sampler Platter. It came with onion rings, gooey mozzarella cheese sticks, chicken wings (with 4 different sauces) and everyone's favorite - the chips and black bean corn salsa.
I tried scribbling down some notes from the peanut gallery about the sampler. All that I can understand from my rumpled napkin notes are the following:
- Fresh change from regular salsa
- Love the touch of cilantro
- "I usually don't like wings, but this buffalo sauce makes me want another"
The Italian Sausage Panini - which is one of many new items - did not taste like bar food. It was absolutely outstanding. The waitress had actually said they were really surprised at how well it was doing, even commenting that they didn't think it would be one of the more successful sandwiches on the menu.
It was stocked full of flavor. Two sweet Italian sausages, split down the middle, stuffed with caramelized onions and green peppers. The mozzarella was so plentiful that I had to pull the sandwich about a foot away from my face - like they do in the pizza commercials.
Marinara sauce was ladled on top and everything was laid out on a grilled flat Panini bread. The sweetness of the sausage and the spiciness of the peppers couldn't have worked better. It'll be in my arsenal of go-to menu items, most definitely.
The changes will not go unnoticed. The feel of the Olde Fort Pub is still there - but it's not just a bar with bar food now. It's your old, familiar hangout - with really, really good food.