This past weekend was filled with a little bit of everything. We had a birthday party to attend, filled with fun and games and cupcakes. It was a marathon of amusements, laser tag, and arcade games. On the off chance that my family and I stay down by the city on a weekend, I attempt to cram as much as possible into the two days. Staying local means grabbing as many local attractions as we can. There are plenty of diversions but it is also too easy to laze away an afternoon relaxing in the yard or on the couch, taking a breather from being on the go. These two days would not be a breather.
Saturday found us with a birthday party on the schedule. My daughter's best friend had invited her and her sister to a local arcade/amusement/funplex. There would be magic and lasers and video games and the constant whirring of kids and machines. Before we even thought of the party, the weekend was started with a Spring walk through the cherry blossoms of a nearby park. It was nice to be out as a family, strolling along in the crisp morning air. The party brought us near a shopping center and so after several hours of laughing and playing and singing, we stopped by some stores to refresh the kids' wardrobes for the coming warmer months. As shopping usually does, our bellies began to grumble, which leads us to our disappointment.
To say the day was long would be an understatement. To say we had our fill of fresh air and activities would be a mild description of the day's events. We were hungry and ready for a good meal. I had, as I am wont to do, decided to finish the day at a brewery. A sample of new brews made in a nearby town would be a decent end to a long Saturday. Breweries/brewpubs are usually known for their quality pub fare and some even excel at more ambitious dishes. This particular spot was near several colleges and with such a pedigree should prove to be a worthy dining spot. The Gaslight Brewery and Restaurant is a confusing and confused little spot. At first glance it seems to be a local dive bar (that's the door you come in and the scene you are greeted by). We entered into an everyday bar, no hostess, no one to seat us, no one even to greet us as we looked for a table in a place that had several rooms of seats. Most of the seating was at bar tables with high, stiff chairs. We found our place to dine without much ado but something was off. There were plenty of wait-staff but everything seemed to be in slow motion, as if underwater. Our waitress was courteous and attentive enough yet she never offered any direction or insight to new guests about ordering or the homemade brews available. She was just sort of lost. All the bar tables appeared crowded, with plates, glasses, what have you, merely because they were small.
We had come to a place with an identity crisis. It was not a restaurant, though it touted itself as one. The prices on the menu would have you believe it was a restaurant but the tables spoke of a small-town bar. It was not a brewpub, or even a bar, again the prices on the menu would not allow it. The management wanted the place to be a restaurant with a refined menu and priced accordingly but they failed in the endeavor. The establishment had a homey closeness to it. As a dive bar with fresh-brewed beer it would have excelled if not for the pretend family atmosphere that was put on to attract customers in order to justify the menu. If one would turn down the lights, serve the requisite pub fare done right, and continue brewing decent beers, I would agree with the decision, give it two thumbs up, and leave the family at home as I enjoy a local ale. As a restaurant, one would have to expand past the tiny bar bathroom, extract the local bar hounds from the corner stools, add real tables, and train the staff to hawk the place's hand-crafted wares.
To our disappointment, dinner was lacking. I had found the first brewery ever where I could not get a sampler of their craft. And the day ended flat. We would have to wait for tomorrow for a shot at redemption. I was truly disappointed that a day spent away from the farm had ended so poorly. There was not hunger strong enough to make our dinner seem filling nor throats dry enough to find the beer quenching.