January 11, 2013

Dinner at Ants Pants Cafe

Ants Pants is a well-known brunch establishment on South Street "West" that recently extended their service to the dinner crowd.  We're big fans of famous-for-brunch Sabrina's, opting to skip the crowds and enjoy a quieter setting during the dinner hours.  Our mom was up here for a last-minute trip to take care of some details regarding a new real estate acquisition (so excited!) so we took her out for a low-key dinner relatively close to home. The cafe has a nondescript brown exterior identifiable by a few sidewalk tables during nicer weather.  Inside, you'll find a small counter with baked goods and an international candy selection.  The counter gives way to a small seating area in the back, which couldn't fit more than 25 or so.  Our group of five took up a large portion of the dining room.

The dinner menu reflects what Ants Pants is known for- breakfast foods- expect lots of bacon and eggs, and even pancakes.  Unfortunately, the chalkboard list of specials are strictly brunch only.

We ordered a couple of "small plates" to start- all of which are more dinner-focused.  A good brussels spouts dish ($6) rarely gets passed over- Ants Pants sautes their version, providing some nice crispy browned edges. The addition of shallots and a sprinkle of Pecorino rounds out a classic, ever-satisfying vegetable dish.  Our waiter warned us the portion was small, but we were all still able to eat a few cheesy, steamy Brussels.

A claimed to have heard good things about the sweet potato fries ($4.75) and it sure made me glad that she's our official Twitter and Yelp stalker researcher.  Thinly sliced (mandolined?) potatoes were dusted with salt and had a predominately chewy texture.  The Thai sweet chili sauce served alongside was a surprise hit, certainly unique and actually made a great pairing with the fries.  The side of sour cream? Not so much.

Mom, A and I all ordered different dishes which ended up being relatively similar.  First up, the "maple bacon" ($11), a fancy bacon and egg sandwich served on a crusty baguette.  Over-medium eggs ensured a decent yolky coating for the other components: arugula, avocado, and the special touch- some crunchy pickled red onion.  A lightly dressed side salad of romaine and spinach, carrot shavings, and cherry tomatoes was an always-appreciated option (you can have fries instead) but a little boring- more acidity, please!  Also.. I failed to get any of the "maple" in the "maple bacon."

I opted for the pancetta BLT, which carried over the arugula and avocado from the maple bacon. Numerous layers of salty, crispy pancetta are sandwiched between thick slices of a somewhat dry foccacia.  Unfortunately, the pancetta completely overwhelmed the more subtle tomato and avocado, two things I really enjoy on a sandwich.  Overall, not too enjoyable.

A chose a third rendition of the same sandwich- the "bacon stack" ($11), oddly listed on a different section of the menu under the appropriately vague heading "Other things...".  The bacon stack is an open faced sourdough sandwich topped with bacon, arugula, tomato, a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano and more "sunny" eggs- more or less a combination of the previous two sandwiches?  This might be nitpicking, but a single bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich would probably suffice. 

My boyfriend won the battle with A's husband for dibs on the meatball sub ($12) (no overlapping orders when you dine with us!).  Served on a long challah roll, the veal-pork-beef meatballs were lightly coated in sauce and finely shredded sharp Provolone.  While the meatballs had an interesting, slightly sweet flavor, the sandwich as a whole was very dry- it definitely needed more sauce and perhaps a layer of sliced cheese beneath the meat instead of a dusting on top.

The Aussie burger ($13) was the last plate to the table, a cooked-to-order patty served with grilled pineapple, roasted beets, and- what else?- a drippy egg.  However, the other toppings made this burger a win by providing a good amount of sweetness and textural interest.  Since Ants Pants is named after an Australian colloquialism, it was nice to see an Australian-inspired dish (but why only one?).  Since A's husband is a habitual vegetable avoider, he opted for the "chip fries" with his burger, a super thin, ruffled chip that tasted just like Chick-Fil-A waffle fries- a huge compliment!

Our meal started out well, but I was pretty disappointed by most of the sandwiches.  I know Ants Pants has a loyal brunch following, so we may have to return to see what the fuss is about- and have a chance to try any advertised special-of-the-day that piques our interest.  

2212 South Street

No comments:

Post a Comment