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Pete's Cafe & some perspective on The Hill

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Pete's Cafe & some perspective on The Hill

mc michael | Oct 1, 2003 05:52 PM

After hearing repeatedly about this place, I finally made it today for lunch. It's at 4th & Main downtown in one of the Old Bank District buildings owned by Tom Gilmore who also happens to own a piece of the restaurant. First, service though polite is hit and miss. Second, acoustically, the place is loud. I arrive with no host in sight and after waiting 5 minutes, collar a waiter who tells me to wait. Then, he returns to tell me I'll probably have to wait some more for a table. I wait another 5 minutes and then find him again and ask if I can do the bar. Sure. He hadn't offered this option before. I go to the bar and order the frequently mentioned Helman Burger medium rare and the invariably mentioned Blue Cheese Fries (I'm guessing gorgonzola). The burger arrives more medium than rare but looking every bit it's stated half pound. The bun isn't really up to the juiciness of the burger and starts to fall apart in my hands. The burger and it's aioli sauce do taste good though. It also comes with fries (a fact not mentioned by the lovely Jamaican barmaid who took my order). The Blue Cheese Fries taste great for about 4-5 bites but then a boring sameness sets in. This is definitely a dish to be shared. So, I've got fries out the kazoo. The iced tea is okay and frequently refilled. Prices are $10 for the burger and $6 for the BCFs. However, you can get either one for $3 during happy hour (5-7, M-F). I'm assuming the happy hour burger does not come with fries. The place seems to be about drinking. On tap: Stella, Guiness, Sierra Nevada, Pabst and a German beer that escapes me. Fair selection of single malts. House white is Navarro; red is Phillips.
I guess parking is on the street (I walked). For perspective, compare the Apple Pan burger (what $6 with cheddar?) or Cassell's two-thirds pounder with buffet but no alcohol and no lovely Jamaican barmaid for about $6.40 or so. Some say these places have gone down hill. Based on a recent visit to Cassell's, I don't think so. Our taste in burgers has just been amped up. The hill profile has changed. The Cassell's burger tastes the same as it ever was--it's meaty. The potato salad tastes the same. It's got horseraddish. There's just no fancy bun that breaks apart, no blue cheese fries, no aioli sauce, no loud buzz, no attractive staff that neglects to mention stuff. So, do you want the same old reliable hill, or do you want to try a new run? If the latter, happy hour might be the way to go.

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