Eating at the bar was my first challenge in my first food blog community activity. And a challenge it was, given that I don't like to sit at the sushi bar and I don't like to eat at regular bars. Privacy freak that I am, I just don't feel comfortable having a conversation for my neighbors and the bartender to listen to as they please. Sitting at the bar also feels chaotic, like I'm not really eating and things are just happening to me. I'm always up for a challenge though, and I found some creative solutions. I started thinking of so many solutions that I wasn't sure what to pick!
I finally choose the Library Alehouse on Main Street in Santa Monica. I had been once before and been pretty thrilled with the low-key atmosphere (a bar where you can hear your friends), nice lighting (dim overhead with candles on the tables), tall, cozy tables, and an actual beer selection (about 25, I think), including many things I'd never tried and a menu that actually described them. (For those of you who don't know, good beer is not on tap at most places in Santa Monica that I have been to.) I never know what to order at a bar, so I love the rare alcohol menu. I was less excited that they didn't have Fat Tire or Abita Purple Haze or Killian's or any of my other old standbys that I never realized were tied to the midwest or the south somehow (until I moved here and found myself deprived).
So on my return visit to the Library, I figured that good beer selection meant they must have good taste, and therefore, the food would be good. I spent the better part of my day beating back my hamburger craving, promising to feed it that evening. I also reminded myself that I could get a discount with my KCRW card, but of course I forgot to bring it with me.
At 8:30 on a Wednesday, we waited about 20 minutes for a table since it was too chilly to sit outside. I hear the outdoor seating is nice though. I wasn't expecting such a crowd, given that I had previously walked in at 10 or 11 on a Saturday night and had my choice of tables.
Unfortunately, my good food hunch was wrong. I ordered a burger,which in my book is standard bar food that I can expect to be made with aplomb. However, my burger was overcooked (and this is coming from an ex keep-that-cow-away-from-me gal). They didn't ask how I wanted my meat done, and they charge extra for standard toppings like cheese, sauteed onions, mushrooms, and bacon--75 cents per topping! When my burger already costs $8.50, this makes me feel like I'm being taken advantage of. The burger was pretty big and the bacon was thick, but do these things really matter when taste is suffering? Burgers come with fries, curly fries, or mashed potatoes. I appreciated and chose the curly fry option. They weren't really seasoned enough for my liking, though. In fact, I wasn't sure they were seasoned in the low lighting. I couldn't really tell until I ate my leftovers at home. Surprisingly, lettuce, tomato, and raw red onions are included in the price of the burger :) The bun was nothing to get excited about either, as hamburger buns rarely are.
Verdict? Don't eat at the bar. Go for the beer, not the food.
2911 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405