Smile Politely

Burgers-Only at Farren’s

Sometimes my friends and I try to expand our horizons beyond the usual haunts, downtown bars and fine dining options. Sometimes we’re delighted by our experimenting, and other times, regretful.

Twice in the last few weeks I’ve visited Farren’s, an ever-so-slightly upscale restaurant and pub behind Nitaya Thai at Church and Hill streets. People love Farren’s for the burgers, including The Russell, which comes loaded with mushrooms, bacon, blue cheese sauce and jalapeno cheese. The Green Chili Cheeseburger, which is topped with jalapeno cheese and green chili sauce is just as highly regarded. Even those who avoid red meat can do just fine subbing a black bean burger, which comes with a side of Cajun remoulade. The fries, which cost extra, aren’t anything to write home about, but they do the job.

The atmosphere is pleasant enough for an underground space, and the service is not terrible. They provide you with plenty to drink, and the full menu includes many appetizers, salads, and sandwiches, most of which only cost 7 or 8 bucks.

However, if you don’t want a burger, there is really no need to go. For one, the higher-priced specials can be odd, such as salmon out of season, or an over-sized grouper with a bizarre mash of foods the restaurant regards as a “slaw.”

Those who enjoy good salads might also be disappointed. The majority of them are prepared around meats (beef, chicken, bacon, scallops), which vegetarians will find irritating, and they smother (but do not mix) the greens with thick and strong-tasting dressings before serving them.

Some things on the menu are unavailable, such as the pate part of the cheese and pate plate. The cheese and fruit plate would be better described as the “brie plate,” as you’re not necessarily going to get fresh fruit and the only cheese offered is brie (which is strange, considering the many cheeses they have). If you like brie, you get some bang for your buck (some 2-3 wedges), but then again, who wants dried apricots, Craisins and olives with their cheese? Where jam and honey might be reasonably expected with the baguette bread, diners receive strawberry vinaigrette salad dressing plopped unceremoniously about the plate. It had my friends and I scratching our heads.

The sandwiches are hit-or-miss. My friend enjoyed her mushroom and cheese sandwich on baguette bread, but I was less content with my pesto and cheese sandwich with cucumbers, onions, and lettuce. While I confess that the menu didn’t say “grilled cheese,” I still wasn’t expecting cold slices on baguette bread. Experiences like these increased our head-scratching.

I don’t plan on visiting again soon. It’s this diner’s opinion that Farren’s needs some serious revamping and rethinking if it intends to compete with other restaurant-pubs in the area.

Otherwise it’s burgers-only at Farren’s.

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