Two Palate Dining: Sweetwater Tavern

She Said: Sweetwater Tavern

I had wanted to try Sweetwater Tavern for a long time. It just seemed so cute and cozy. I was so happy when we finally got to eat there with some of RJ’s family. I loved it- but I forgot my camera. I thought that was fine. I’ll just photograph the next time we go and then we can tell people about it. The problem with that scenario was that I had just had another painful medical test and didn’t have my camera batteries charged. I was only able to snap a couple of pictures and none of them were of our entrees. The most recent time that we went to Sweetwater I checked again and again to make sure they were charged- and we got pictures! So, I can now tell you what I think of Sweetwater! Hooray!

Sweetwater Tavern is one of the restaurants in the D.C. area restaurant chain of Great American Restaurants. While it does feature a brewery and beer that I’m sure are a draw for many it’s not a place where those who don’t are uncomfortable. I like that. I’ve been to many restaurants where we have been treated as absolute pariahs for not partaking in alcohol. But, I’m glad to say that we’ve received the same great service (from the same really sweet waitress) each time and have never felt unattended to because we weren’t drinking.  The décor is very Western inspired with Cowboy stuff, etc. and while it isn’t my personal taste it suits the atmosphere. I like a spacious dining room with lots of booths so I’m happy. I also adore the light fixtures with the horses and wagons on them- they are cute!

I like a restaurant that offers a breadbasket. It’s always so fun to see what they are serving and get recipe ideas from. The breadbasket at Sweetwater is an interesting mix of items. We’ve had jalapeno cheese bread (chewy and bland) raisin bread (I don’t eat raisins) and my favorite the tiny, chewy yeast rolls. I don’t like the butter because it’s honey butter, but I don’t want to get full from the breadbasket so I don’t mind skipping the butter too much.  We don’t always order appetizers, but we did order the spinach and artichoke dip on one visit. I didn’t really like it. I thought it was too bland and thought that the spinach seemed almost acidic in its bitterness. I usually love spinach and artichoke dips, but I’m not a fan of this one.

I tried the Grilled Chicken & Havarti Cheese sandwich and this is my menu item! I love going to a restaurant and know that I’m getting something that is consistently good. It’s hard to be a picky eater and have food allergies. After three times of eating this sandwich I can say that I love it! The chicken is grilled to perfection and is paired with mellow and almost nutty tasting Havarti cheese. The sandwich is given some bite from the addition of roasted red peppers and arugula. The bread is toasted and crispy yet soft. All of these great elements, including my idea to eliminate the offered mustard-mayo, combine to make a wonderful sandwich. I also really enjoy their sweet potato fries because they are light and well seasoned.

RJ tried some kind of burger on our recent visit. I don’t remember much about it except that I thought it tasted really good although the cheese wasn’t melted. I really hate it when cheese isn’t melted, if it’s supposed to be. A chunk of firm or cold cheese can overwhelm the flavor of the food and ruin your meal. He also got the shoestring fries, which were nice. But, I still much prefer the sweet potato fries!

I really like Sweetwater Tavern. I really only have a couple of small complaints about the restaurant. I don’t like that they don’t take reservations during peak hours. It’s really annoying and frankly has meant that we’ve walked away from eating there or haven’t even tried sometimes on Friday nights. I also don’t like that they don’t do takeout. I understand that their food is much nicer than what can be found at a Friday’s or Chili’s. However, my entrée is just a sandwich. Since, I usually spend part of each month ill dealing with my various health problems and this is always a sandwich that makes me feel good to eat I hate that I can’t get it if I don’t feel like going out.  I really wish that RJ could just pick up this sandwich to go. I don’t understand why they can’t at least let their sandwiches and burgers be ordered that way. One time I was given a to-go container for my profiteroles from Mon Ami Gabi.  If they can send me out with a kit of DIY profiteroles (which I assembled in the car- a challenge I assure you, but now I have a new skill) then surely I could be given a box with a chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries.

I really enjoy the chicken sandwich, so I’ll definitely go back. But, I won’t stop hoping for reservations or a takeout option for the sandwiches!

Kari’s Ratings

Spinach and Artichoke Dip- 2

Grilled chicken Sandwich- 10

RJ’s Burger- 4

Overall- 7

Sweetwater Tavern's Grilled Chicken & Havarti Cheese Sandwich

Sweetwater Tavern’s Grilled Chicken & Havarti Cheese Sandwich

Sweetwater Tavern's Hickory BBQ Burger

Sweetwater Tavern’s Hickory BBQ Burger

He Said: Sweetwater Tavern

There’s a Sweetwater Tavern close to my office so I’ve eaten there a few times for business.  Kari and I have now been there a few times so after a few failed attempts, we finally managed to get to review it.  But was it an enjoyable experience this time around?

The evening started with the breadbasket.  All of the breads are made fresh at local bakery Best Buns Bread Company.  They vary every time, and can include raisin bread, cheddar bread, and Poblano cheddar bread.  They always feature these little fried dough balls that are just excellent.  I could eat about a million of those!  The butter is a sweet butter that I love.

Kari’s grilled chicken & Havarti cheese sandwich was very flavorful.  The chicken isn’t pounded into submission here.  You’re getting a real chicken breast and the pairing with the arugula and roasted peppers really adds a great combination of heat and cool.  The bread adds to the sandwich, but doesn’t get in the way.  Kari always gets sweet potato fries here instead of the regular fries, and they are the best fries in town.

As I mentioned above, I’ve eaten here several times and gotten several different things.  My favorites have included the pork chops (which was a huge serving of two bone in chops and sides), and the crab cakes (which had so little filler, they hardly held together, high praise for a place that doesn’t specialize in seafood).  This time I opted for the Hickory BBQ Burger.  The burger itself was well cooked, and tasted great.  The bun was also top notch.  The “Hickory BBQ” claim is where this burger falls short for me.  For me, the addition of jack cheese and BBQ sauce wasn’t really enough to differentiate for me.  We’re in an age of gourmet burgers.  Similarly described, similarly priced offerings at other local establishments include pulled pork, and bacon.  This burger was good, but it didn’t stand up to the name.  It really could have used something else added to it to make it feel more special.  I did love the fries that came with my sandwich.  They were thin, but crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.

Overall, I love Sweetwater Tavern!  I plan to go back with Kari, but I don’t think I’ll order this burger.  I’ll stick with one of my favorites, try a new adventure, or if I feel like a burger, I’ll just order the cheddar cheeseburger, so I won’t have inflated expectations.

RJ’s Ratings

Grilled Chicken Sandwich-10

Hickory BBQ Burger- 6

Crab Cakes-10

Pork Chops-10