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If it Ain't Broke... Fix It

Somehow, Someway, Acme Gets Better

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If I had known months ago that the bar/restaurant Acme was planning significant changes to both ambience and cuisine, I would have protested. It already had a wonderful Twin Peaks-style setting replete with wooden blinds, dark leather booths, and a lovely patio. It had a killer beer selection and stellar mixed drinks. It had a burger that didn't suck, and after the sun went down, it featured all sorts of lovely entertainment, ranging from local rock bands to film screenings. Why fiddle with perfection?

But fortunately for fanatics like myself, the Acme owners looked for ways to build on what was already there, rather than gut it. The cool old booths have been reupholstered in plush red and rounded out, actually making the seating arrangement appear more spacious without detracting from the deliciously dark, smoky atmospherics. An elegant, shoulder-high barrier has been constructed as well, gently separating the people who just want to hang from the people who came to see a loud rock show.

And... with a transformative flourish like few I've witnessed in this town, Acme released a new menu recently that makes the old lineup of traditional pub grub seem like a distant memory. In its place comes an explosion of down-home southern influences drizzled over top-quality ingredients from the Pacific Northwest.

On our visit to the new-and-improved Acme, we kicked things off with a starter platter of wild boar ribs, a steaming heap of bold, beautiful flesh that was enough to feed two people. A gamier meat, the boar was tough, but the flavor was sweet and smoky, and a contrasting lime dipping sauce helped everything go down smoothly. From there, the smoked chicken platter arrived, an even bigger dish with both halves of the bird drenched in a tangy, mouth-watering house-made spice rub. Again, the meat was on the dry side, but the sheer taste was so strong and vibrant it didn't matter. Accompanying this dish were two sides, chosen from a large list of lovely options that includes mac 'n' cheese, onion rings, a fresh, crisp cucumber-jicama slaw, and naturally, cornbread. We opted for the maple sweet potatoes, a heavenly cup of rich warmth that soothed our souls; and also the vegan chili, which didn't taste like much more than beans and tomatoes.

The focus of Acme's new cuisine is unabashedly the meat. Vegetarians can choose from salads like the spinach with toasted hazelnuts and bleu cheese, and the simple but delicious schoolhouse Caesar. All the sides are vegetarian as well—but the entrees are nothing but carnivorous. Here, meat lovers will find a beer-braised pork belly with buttermilk mashed potatoes doused in gravy made from bacon and morel mushrooms (damn, girl!). Here, you'll find sliced beef brisket, and here you'll find tantalizing sandwiches like triple "b" bison with bacon and bleu, and Acme's perfectly sweet/savory pulled pork sandwich topped with coleslaw.

We've given a lot of positive ink to Acme on these Mercury pages, but from here on out, I'm not sure what else there will be left to say. I finally and truly don't believe Acme can get any better... but then again... the place surprised me before; maybe they'll do it again.

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