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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Riverwest Crowd Pleaser

Filling Station’s menu ranges from basic to ambitious

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Many people remember Albanese’s, located in a somewhat industrial area of Riverwest. It was a source for big plates of pasta and cheap beer. But Albanese’s has been vacant for a few years, a building waiting for someone to love it and fix it up. That has happened. Little remains of Albanese’s at the new Riverwest Filling Station except for the brick exterior walls. The front is all windows and the interior has a great bar and a trendy renovated interior thanks to Flux Design, also based in the neighborhood. The theme here is “growler bar.” Growlers are those big jugs of beer that pub patrons use for carry-outs. The Filling Station has 30 beers on tap to choose from in a rotating selection. This is the first area bar to serve growlers of beer that are not brewed on the premises.

Food is also served from a menu that covers a lot of ground, ranging from a basic burger and fries, to chicken with couscous, to shitake-encrusted ahi tuna. The menu aspires to variety. Soups do well here, with a daily special of split pea proving to be fine winter fare. Try the cilantro jalapeño chicken wings ($9). The cilantro and jalapeños are in a preparation much like a proper Jamaican jerk paste. The tarragon Caesar salad ($6-$12) is quite good with shaved Parmesan and a dressing that tastes like true Caesar. It’s not creamy!

The Filling Station burger ($11) is a crowd pleaser made from ground beef marinated in stout and stuffed with Fontina cheese. Add stout-glazed mushrooms and onions with garlic stout aioli and you have a mighty tasty burger. Among the entrées, the southern style fried chicken ($10) is inexpensive, homey fare, including boneless, breaded pieces of meat served with buttered grits and sweet carrots. The New York strip ($16) is 8 oz. of beef served in slices with a nice cranberry demi-glacé and sides of parsnip purée and honey-glazed bacon Brussels sprouts. On the spicier side is an Indonesian scallop curry with udon noodles ($13). The wheat noodles are topped with a few jumbo sea scallops in a mellow coconut curry along with straw mushrooms, tomato, carrot and onion. The menu labels this dish as spicy, but a Thai restaurant would consider it mild.

It should be little surprise that the wine list is smaller than the beer list, but there are nine wines served by the glass ($6-$9) and by the bottle ($23-$37). In addition to the 30 beers on tap, there are over 40 selections by the bottle—as basic as Pabst and as distinguished as Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. Noteworthy is Polygamy Porter from Utah. The Filling Station definitely makes beer its priority, but the menu also has its merits. It’s a very ambitious place.

Riverwest Filling Station
701 E. Keefe Ave.
(414) 906-9000
$$
the-filling-station.com
Handicapped access: yes
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