Monday, September 12, 2016


Years ago when I moved to the neighborhood, there was a bar and grill called Streetside that had a pretty good beer list and bar food that was a step up from the standard bar and grill.  While I did like the place, I wasn't really a regular, and I was only mildly disappointed when it closed.  The disappointment was more than relieved when I found that the place that would replace it, Scofflaw, would be a gin-focused cocktail bar.  While the space has the same layout as the previous bar, the design is much more rustic, with a darker color scheme and antique tractor seats used as bar stools.  The space has two rooms, plus a patio.  The main room has a door on a corner with a large window in the front and a heavy and vintage looking bar, which seats about 12 people, running back into the room.  The exit to the patio and the entrance to the other room are at the back of the room on opposite sides.  The patio sits to the side of the building along a side street and will seat about 20 people, the back room (actually parallel to the main bar) is also dark, and while it does have a window as well, it is covered with blackout curtains.  The food service window is at the back of the room and there is a fireplace in the center of the wall opposite the side that you enter into the room.  While this is a cool room to hangout with small groups, when I go, I will generally just sit at the bar which I did the last time I went.  The drink menu at Scofflaw changes frequently, and while they will announce new drinks on Facebook and Twitter, they do not have one single place where you can see what the current menu is before you come.  That doesn't bother me a lot because I have no problem trying something new and I like gin.  There were nine cocktails listed on the menu, five of which were gin based (in addition to a pretty good beer list and an incredible gin list).  I started things off with The Standby, which had Gin, Cognac, Boomsa Cloosterbitter, Lucky Falernum, Tonic, Lime, and Orange Saffron Bitters, served on ice.  It had a very complex flavor that I liked trying to take apart, but the overarching flavors were bittersweet, floral, and tart.  It had the herbal flavors of a good gin without being too pine-flavored.  It was a complex cocktail and I really enjoyed it.
The food menu at Scofflaw is also not listed online.  There a lot of bits and pieces including charcuterie and cheese, vegetables, sandwiches, and fries, that can be put together into a coherent meal.  I started off with some Charred and Chilled Cauliflower with Mint and Yellow Curry which I enjoyed, but which my dining partner thought could have been charred a little more to bring out a little more sweetness and texture.  I will not argue that point, I will say that I thought that the flavors went extremely well with gin cocktails.  With the char, the cauliflower was slightly sweet, and the mint and curry complemented the herbalness of the cocktails.
For my "main course", I had a Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Dill Pickles and Swiss Cheese.  The chicken was crispy on the outside with a tender and juicy interior and the Swiss cheese and Pickle reminded me a little bit of a Cubano (although a Cuban is made with pork).  While it was pretty good, I was very glad to have some hot sauce close to add to it.
For my second cocktail, I went with one of their non-gin based cocktails.  Called a Swizzle #17, it started with White Rum and had Fernet Branca, Strawberry, Lime, and Salt Tincture.  The drink looked pretty and I liked the strawberry, but I can't say that I really liked the taste of it.  Fernet Branca has a strong flavor and while I like it on it's own, I can't really say that I liked the combination with the white rum, lime, and salt.
Our last bites were Frites served with Aioli.  They were crisp, salty and flavorful, and tasted good with the aioli.  It was very simple, but sometimes the best dishes are simple dishes done very well.
To finish things off, I ordered something off the menu that I was sure that they would be able to do.  My favorite cocktail is The Last Word which is made with Gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur, and Lime Juice.  It is sweet, tart, floral, and supposed to be slightly green, and as suspected, Scofflaw hit all points and made a very good cocktail.

I like Scofflaw, and while Swizzle #17 was not my favorite cocktail, I enjoyed the experience and now know that I don't care for that combination.  The food, while relatively simple was done well, and went well with the cocktails.  The listed cocktails change frequently and if you are there at midnight, they serve cookies.  I will continue going, and trying different drinks, even if I probably won't make it to midnight.

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