Roll out the barrel

Photo courtesy Eliesa Johnson and The Restaurant Project

Bourbon. Over 200 labels, including impossible-to-find antique bottles of Buffalo Trace and Pappy Van Winkle.

Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about Dalton & Wade, the Warehouse District’s new drinking and dining site, which is almost as hard to find as those rare tipples. (It’s in the new T3 office building entered from, but not on, Washington Avenue. Who knew? Amazon employees do, apparently, for they occupy the office sites above the restaurant, launched by five drinking buddies, three of whom — the Abdo brothers — come from a family of restaurateurs.)

The bar, glittering with a lineup of legendary labels from Kentucky and beyond, requires a wide-angle camera to do it justice and a lifetime of visits to sip through its offerings. It’s flat-out gorgeous. Cowboy murals, clippety-clop Muzak and flannel shirts on the (excellent) waitstaff bring the Old West to the New North of the city.

There’s food, too — many of them good-ol’-boy icons of the Deep South — orchestrated by Scott Pampuch, remembered as the founding chef of Corner Table. Starters (which can easily make a meal) run from burnt ends with cornbread croutons to bologna sandwiches, from chicken wings to country ham (most $7–$12).

We started with that south of the Mason-Dixon line staple, pimento cheese. Out it came, a mound of the mild, soft cheese blushing with the pink of sweet pimentos whipped in and piled inches-thick atop Texas (well, I guess that qualifies as South) toast.

We also summoned the hush puppies but probably won’t again. Deep-fried nuggets posing little in the way of flavor, assembled atop a lick of sweet corn aioli — pleasant enough but not up to jump-starting the plate.

Bypassing the Road House Classics section of the menu (yummy-sounding chicken-fried steak, bison and elk meatloaf, shrimp and grits, $14–$19), we pounced on the triune deity of Southern lunch counters, meat and three ($19). Three meat choices, too, all smoked: brisket, chicken and pork shoulder.

Following our server’s counsel, we selected first the salt-and-pepper mesquite-smoked brisket, three or four slices on the dry side of perfection. OK, but not the jackpot. The apple-smoked roast chicken proved equally overcooked and sere.

The list of sides is archetypically Southern, true to classic cafeteria style: a tasty, firm-textured, just-what-you’d-expect potato salad; same for the fine-chopped, vinegar-laced coleslaw. Carrot pudding (a first for me) delivered a creamy, whipped addition, while the green beans, pocked with bits of ham hock and pimento, proved blessedly snappier than their prototype. Fried apples — sweet and firm enough and spared of death by cinnamon, were straight up, while the mac and cheese was, in a word, terrible: pasta shells swimming in what tasted like Cheez Whiz. Order extra sides at $4 if you wish.

Sweets ($7) carry on the bourbon theme via ice cream, cobbler and apple pie; or call for other Southern dessert deities like pound cake and banana pudding. Our bourbon apple pie — actually a fritter — didn’t quite make the “save room for” grade, while its accompanying bourbon ice cream tasted more like ice milk sans the touted booze.

But what the heck? It’s easy to have a good time here, and a good tipple.


Dalton & Wade

323 Washington Ave. N.