Gastropub, it would seem, is the restaurant nom du jour. I’ve been seeing it attached to several restaurants recently, and yet few seem to know what it means, or at least they’re hoping the public doesn’t know. In most cases, the gastropub designation is inaccurately applied.
For the record, a gastropub is a pub or bar that serves a higher quality food than the usual pub grub. It’s a fine distinction, and in Britain you’ll find actual gastropubs with dining rooms separate from the pub, making it even more difficult to distinguish a gastropub from a restaurant. And over here, you’re more likely to find the word American plopped in front of gastropub, which basically gives license for the establishment to define what makes an American gastropub. The Ravenous Pig calls itself an American gastropub, but it’s much more restaurant than bar.
Pint American Gastropub, however, is mainly bar. The question is whether the food rises above pub grub to meet the gastro qualifications. It comes close. I liked what I ate here, and what I drank, and the people who served both.
I started with an appetizer of cheese curds because you just don’t get enough opportunities to say I’ll have the curds, please. Actually, the menu boasted that these were not your basic run of the mill curds, these were genuine Henning’s Wisconsin yellow curds. So they’re imported. They had a light coating and were deep fried (Henning’s recommends coating them in an onion ring mix, but I couldn’t tell if that’s what was used). The curds were characteristically firm and pretty tasty. Only complaint was that they had not heated through.
For the main course I had the pint burger, which is identified on the menu as 50/50 premium angus beef and lamb. You’d think that meant that it would be a blend of the two meats. But it turned out to be two separate patties, one fashioned out of the beef and one from the lamb, each in its own english muffin bun but stacked one on top of the other. I liked them both — even the muffin bun, which were softer than your average english muffin. But I felt as though I didn’t get what I had ordered. And, no, they were too thick to eat simultaneously and get the blended-after-the-face effect.
The sandwich came with waffle-cut fries that were served on a spindle, the type usually seen in an accountant’s office holding bills. Cute.
There is quite a large list of beer and ales on tap (51, it’s claimed) and several bottled selections. Not seeing my preferred brew on either list, I told the server what I liked and she made several suggestions and even fetched a few in shot glasses for me to sample. She even brought a couple of others after I’d made my selection just in case I might want to switch. She continued that kind of good service throughout my meal, keeping a pleasant attitude and smile the whole time. There is also a full liquor bar where 100 vodkas are boasted, but I did not count them.
The atmosphere is more sports bar than restaurant. In fact there are more tall tables than feet-on-the-floor seating. So I suspect they’re more after the drinking crowd than diners. But that’s OK. I’m still not ready to call this a gastropub, American or British, but we have a perfectly good term for what it is: a nice bar and grill.
Pine American Gastropub is at 1130 TownPark Ave., Lake Mary. It is open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday and dinner daily. This link will take you to the Pint American Gastropub website, but honestly, there’s nothing there — not even the address and phone number. Sheesh, guys, come on. We’re in the second decade of the 21st century; websites are pretty necessary. If you click this link you can download a pdf of the Pint American Gastropub menu. The phone number is 407-936-3377.