Located in an attractive old two-story brick building on the east end of President Clinton Avenue, Wrought Iron Grill & Pub has an inviting façade. But things begin to look down quickly — and literally — when you realize that the restaurant doesn’t occupy the second story of the building. It is housed entirely below street level, so forget any idea of a sunny lunch or dinner overlooking the river. Also, discard notions of a late night drink at the bar. Or a bar for that matter. This is a “family friendly” grill and pub.
Perhaps, finding yourself in a grill and pub, you would like to order a beer when you sit down at your standard-issue cafeteria table. “Why, yes, of course we have beer,” your waiter will say. Unfortunately, he will not produce a menu with prices or a clearly demarcated selection of brew, because no such menu exists, though we gathered Wrought Iron had a wide selection. (Perhaps this will change; the pub hasn’t been open very long.)
There is, however, a food menu, which is amply laden with all the fried fare you could dream of. For an appetizer our party tried Jenn’s Egg Rolls and that staple Arkansas foodstuff, the cheese dip. The Egg Rolls were chosen on the basis of multiple effusive recommendations by our server. They were pleasantly meaty and suffused with the delicious taste that a hearty helping of grease lends any dish. The cheese dip — a truly simple bowl of melted Velveeta and Rotel — we best not discuss.
The entrees were somewhat better. The salmon cakes were crispy and not too grease laden, though they could have used some seasoning. The macaroni and cheese had congealing and hardening issues similar to the cheese dip’s. We applied tomato ketchup, a rarely used mac-and-cheese remedy, to give it a hint of flavor. The coleslaw had a generous mayonnaise base. The best part of the dinner was the toast.
Among our comrades’ meals, the chicken fried steak (‘Wow!’ says the menu) was tender and full-flavored, if oily. The mashed potatoes came skins and all (the best way, we say), but weren’t thick. The black-eyed peas tasted fresh and were seasoned well. The thick-cut French fries came on the soggy side. One companion enjoyed his burger save “the faint taste of salmon.”
By the time the meal was over, we weren’t up for dessert, particularly when, asked if desserts were made in-house, our waiter gushed, “They’re not homemade, but we’ll heat ’em up for you!”
Grill & Pub
Editor’s note: After serious internal debate, we’ve decided to abandon our star rating system. Until we perfect a highly refined 1-100 scale or figure out how to turn the stars into pies, you’ll be forced to read the reviews and apply your own stars.
614 President Clinton Ave.
The coleslaw and black eyed peas are all right. Avoid cheese-based dishes at all cost.
11 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Full bar. Credit cards.