by Joel Smith
All the excuses I have for why the Globe has never really appeared on my culinary radar screen are lousy ones. It's not as close to the Inlander office as, say, Zip's or the Brooklyn Deli when it comes to a quick working lunch. And something about that area, Division Street just south of the bridge, seems to cry drug dealer or frat boy. Or both. It's also because I'm still new here.
Poor excuses all of them. Because when my fellow ink-stained wretches and I descended on the Globe for the paper's inaugural Pub Grub review, the question arose: Where has this place been all my life? Or rather, where have I been?
The space itself isn't the Taj Mahal. A long, almost shotgun-style building, entered from the rear (off of East Main Avenue), it's got a long wooden bar on the right, a scattering of tables in the middle and a row of booths off to the left. Done up in dark woods and reds, it opens up in the back to a pair of burgundy pool tables and a brighter, airier seating area, with high ceilings and lots of windows looking out on Division.
It's not the ambience that impresses -- it's the menu. We came, at least some of us, expecting something deep-fried and artery-clogging, like a lot of bar food. But no. Seven salads, from Caesar to Ginger Peach Shrimp. Four creamy pasta dishes. A page and a half of sandwiches (the French Dip, the Jamaican Jerk Pork) and burgers (the Whiskey Pepper Demi, the Black & amp; Bleu). And a handful of meaty dishes, like the Aegean Chicken and a nice selection of steaks. Hiyah!
Our harried waitress conjured up a round of micros (Northern Lights, Deschutes) from the mostly local taps (a surprising dearth of British beers for a place called, in Shakespearean style, the Globe) while we pored over the menu. What to get? It took us 10 minutes to decide.
Only a quarter of the way into our pints, the food was spread out before us. Oh, the plentitude! My muffuletta ($9.25) - a New Orleans deli classic - was almost as big as my head, stacked thick with ham and spicy salami along with a little tomato and lettuce to wet the palate and slathered all over with an exquisite olive tapenade. The best part, though, is the bread it rode in on - two thick slabs of Italian foccaccia lightly toasted on the inside so that in the midst of all those soft savory meats and vegetables, you get a slight buttery crunch. With a Black Butte Porter, this thing is just divine. And you're pretty much guaranteed leftovers (though not of the beer).
Actually, I take back that thing about the crunchy bread being the best part. In truth, the best part of this meal, and the meals of my compatriots, was the French fries. Why would anyone go to Red Robin for their bland but bottomless fries, we wondered, when they could come here? The Globe's fries are crisp, they're salty, they're waffle-cut. But alas, they're not bottomless.
A look around the table, from three-quarters of the way down into my beer ...
Marty's Favorite ($8.50), one of the bar's four pasta dishes, was almost a work of art -- a fresh, crisp green salad accompanying a generous portion of linguine, mixed with scallions, diced fresh tomatoes, drawn butter (whatever that is), olive oil, herbs and tons of thickly sliced cloves of garlic. Plan on a mint after polishing off Marty. Two slices of French bread covered in cheese were good additions. After adding a little salt, it was plenty satisfying.
My cohort's chicken enchilada ($10.25) came wrapped in what looked like spinach-corn tortillas. The dish was baked, which, with a hefty amount of melted cheddar, glued the whole concoction together nicely. The big chunks of chicken were tender and the sauce that flavored everything was surprisingly fiery, with a pepper flavor more reminiscent of buffalo wing sauce than standard enchilada
sauce. Not so traditional, perhaps, but very good indeed.
Finally, the fish and chips ($9). My colleague, a self-professed snob in these matters, feels that fish and chips are a strong indicator of the general quality of a restaurant. The breading, she says, is the key to screwing up fish and chips, but the Globe got it right on. Indeed, the breading was pleasantly crunchy, with a buttery taste that was savory without needing to add too much extra spice. Surprisingly, it was only a one-napkin job.
When someone came around hawking desserts, we sent him packing. Not because the desserts didn't sound delicious -- they did -- but because the idea of putting more food into our stomachs sounded like the worst idea anyone had ever come up with. I was still sparring with the last third of my muffaletta. It was a battle I would ultimately lose.
We had our leftovers handily boxed and departed on bowed legs. The Globe, it's safe to say, will now be a part of the regular dining rotation. No more excuses.
Publication date: 04/14/05