Grille 86 finally reopened last week after the restaurant was shut down for months due to water leakage. For its grand reopening, Grille 86 came out with a brand-new menu, meaning a whole new array of foods to try and a whole new review to write.
As a group, we ordered the 86 Nachos and “Boneless Chunks,” basically boneless wings, with buffalo sauce. The restaurant’s namesake nachos came with beer cheese, sour cream and a measly five jalapenos. The chips were fine, but only about a quarter of them were covered with a decent amount of cheese or sour cream, meaning much of the appetizer was a disappointment. Those chips that were dressed with topping, however, were drenched and quite damp, lacking the crisp and the crunch one prefers to have with nachos.
The buffalo-flavored boneless chunks were perhaps the saving grace of the entire meal. The chicken was properly cooked and had a nice coat of crispy breading. There was a small pool of buffalo sauce in the bowl it was served in, but the chicken didn’t have an overpowering excess of sauce to ruin it. The order also came with both ranch and blue cheese, for those who like a little dressing on their buffalo chicken.
Here’s what all of us thought about our respective main dishes:
Christopher Hanna, Associate Sports Editor (Build Your Own Burger)
While it was a nice touch to have a build your own burger added to the menu, I was a little disappointed there were no house burgers to choose from. In my first review of Grille 86, I ordered the Jordan 86 burger, which came with chili and was a delight to eat, albeit a little messy. Having that signature burger is just something you like to see in a restaurant.
Nevertheless, I built my own burger with a single patty, and topped it with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and peppered bacon. Other cheese options were American and Swiss, while the only other veggie option was pickles. As for proteins, you could also add chili and a fried egg, among other things, for an added price. There are a few interesting combinations you can make when building your own burger.
I wasn’t particularly disappointed with my burger, but as a self-proclaimed burger aficionado (I eat a lot of burgers), I can assure you it wasn’t anything special. My burger creation was juicy enough, but didn’t have a whole lot of kick to it. You know? That exciting kick that comes in that first bite and you say, “Wow, that’s a damn good burger.”
Still, it didn’t taste bad, so I can’t complain too much. The real problem with my burger, however, had more to do with the fact the waitress didn’t ask how I’d like it cooked. I have no problem with a little bit of pink in my burger and I usually order it cooked medium. What I got was something closer to medium rare or rare. Undercooking burgers is a big issue if that’s not what you ask for, or if you’re not even asked at all. Had the burger been a little overcooked, I would’ve understood a little more, but you can’t undercook something if that’s not what the person asks for. End of rant.
Kimberly Nguyen, Associate Managing Editor (Grilled Cheese)
As a lover of grilled cheese, I was sorely disappointed in what Grille 86 offered in this category. The menu boasted a grilled cheese with five different cheeses and pulled pork. When the plate came, the first question that came to my mind was where the cheese part of the grilled cheese I ordered was. There was barely a drip of cheese to be found. Advertised as a five-cheese grilled cheese, I was expecting to see it come out of the sandwich.
I gave it the benefit of the doubt and took my first bite. All I tasted was the meat that came with the sandwich. I pulled the sandwich apart to check the cheese situation inside, an easy feat since there was barely any cheese to hold the two pieces of bread (more on that later) together. I scraped off the meat on one side of the sandwich and the five-cheese offering was poor. There was a thin veil of cheese on each slab of bread. The cheese provided in the sandwich was thinner than a slice I could get at a deli. I was asked by the waitress if I had wanted the meat on my grilled cheese. I would have not wanted to see what the sandwich would have been like without the meat to give it some heft.
It was hard to finish my grilled cheese, and I ended up just eating the meat in the sandwich, which I feel is the only thing I paid for. The bread itself was barely toasted, and there was no crunch. If I were ever to come back to eat here. I would try the grilled cheese from the kid’s menu,
Julia Mancini, Associate Life Editor (Mac and cheese)
Mac and cheese may be the most difficult thing for a restaurant to mess up. Let’s be honest, even Kraft Easy Mac has its redeeming qualities. The mac and cheese I ordered at Grille 86, however, was a major disappointment. It was a small portion, certainly not enough to be considered a sufficient Friday night dinner. But upon trying the mac and cheese, I wish it had been smaller. I could barely even tolerate eating half of it. The beer cheese was the same recipe as the cheese that had topped our nachos earlier. That was, essentially, the only ingredient. At first glance, one might have confused it for a can of Tostito’s queso, Cheez Whiz or the even more processed spray cheese.
After stomaching a few mouthfuls of the almost unpalatable mac and cheese, the beer undertones became more apparent, but barely. The presentation was also not optimal. There were only a few shaved chives on top of the elbow pasta. It didn’t take long for the mac and cheese to become cold and congealed. Needless to say, I didn’t finish my meal and was left dissatisfied.
Schae Beaudoin, Life Editor (Chicken Caesar Wrap)
The chicken caesar wrap was average. Croutons and lettuce made up the bulk of the wrap. I was given the choice between a white and tomato basil wrap. I went with tomato basil, but felt it didn’t add any extra flavor. Breaded chicken that was likely the same chicken used for the wings was cut into small strips throughout the wrap. The caesar dressing was very light. Too much dressing can make a wrap soggy, so I appreciated it but also felt the dressing didn’t add much flavor because there was so little.
The wrap did come with a side of fries, which was a nice touch as many options on the menu do not come with a side and the portions are small. The meal was filling, as the wrap is fairly large and the side of fries helped fill the plate out, but average quality, and one of the better options out of what we sampled.