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R&R Public House Ups the Ante on Pub Food

New Meridian eatery offers casual quality

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When you crave a dash of gastropub class with your dinner, Overland Road in Meridian isn't often your first stop. But the R&R Public House--with its brick and hardwood dining area and ornate domed ceiling--may give you cause to reconsider.

"One of the things we were looking for was to open a place that Meridian didn't offer," said owner and general manager Kari Randel. "We realized anytime we wanted to go anywhere, the best places to go that weren't chains were downtown. We wanted to offer something local for families in Meridian."

And when Randel says families, she means it. A mother of five, Randal added a kids' area to R&R Public House so that parents can bring their brood somewhere that doesn't feature nightmarish singing animatronics and ball pits.

"We want to make the kids happy so parents can eat and enjoy their wine without having to leave suddenly," said Randel.

It's a well-intentioned effort, however, the kids' area is a slightly awkward hallway that feels like it's quarantined from the opulence of the restaurant at large, which might explain why none of the families present during my visit sat there.

Though the view from the dining room is relaxing--large windows looking out on a pastoral scene of undeveloped fields set against the rich coloration of the Foothills at sunset--the one drawback to the space is that sound reverberates off the high ceilings, creating a sonic slurry of voices and kitchen noises. It was difficult to hear the server clearly and I had to ask her to repeat herself several times.

R&R's selection of entrees contained few surprises: burgers, pastas and steaks, with some interesting sides like mustard greens with bacon and red pepper flakes. I selected the hanger steak with cilantro chimichurri ($14).

There are some who believe a steak is a steak. It isn't. Steaks flavors and textures vary wildly, ranging from buttery to rubbery. But the R&R hanger steak is the sort that gives the food its accolades. Cooked medium rare, the exterior was crusted in herbs and balsamic vinegar, giving it a sweet tangy crunch surrounding the tender interior. It tasted like the centerpiece in one of those Beef-It's-What's-For-Dinner commercials.

The steak was served with whipped potatoes and fresh green beans sauteed in olive oil. There was no culinary reinvention on my plate, but there wasn't supposed to be. The goal was that sweet sense of comfort that comes with putting flavor to tongue--the one that says it's good to be alive. A little R&R, if you will.