Though The Loft is definitely a bar, it would be unfortunate to miss out on the food just because you're used to heading to The Loft for its alcohol selection. Their food menu, though minimal and bar-goer-oriented, delivers some quite tasty dishes.
Louie Dog and I met at The Loft after work, which happened to fall during one of their happy hour time slots when they offer cheap drinks and free wings. Signs near the door say they are no longer open for lunch, which, in my opinion, is the optimal time for cheap drinks and free wings. Tables are sparse in the largest room and at 6 p.m., when Louie Dog and I were enjoying happy hour, only a few were taken. The happy hour crowd that night was a smoking crowd, which was not great news for us eaters (though once upon a time I might not have minded eating while smokers puffed away, I've gotten used to the smokeless standard now required by law in most restaurants).
The menu offers appetizers, sandwiches and pizza, and there's no messing around at this place. It's a bar, and you eat with your hands.
We started with fried portobello fritters, sliced 'shrooms fried in breadcrumbs. The side of garlic aioli dipping sauce described on the menu turned out to be ranch dressing. I guess aioli is what the kids are calling it these days. But the fritters were good, so we didn't complain about the ranch dressing. Sticking with the mushrooms, LD ordered the grilled portobello sandwich and I ordered the flatbread pizza. Unfortunately the kindly waiter returned to tell me I'd have to wait two hours for the pie because there was no dough. Not really up for a two-hour wait, I opted for a chicken sandwich.
LD and I split sandwiches halfsies and I couldn't decide which one was more delish. The chicken was huge and smothered in cheese; the portobello was equally huge and full of flavor. And the sidelined fries and onion rings were piping hot and perfectly crispy. I realized we should have slurped down some drinks at the reasonable happy hour prices, as the fried cheesy grub would have been the perfect drinking food. And by perfect, I mean that it hits the spot, fills you up and oozes all over your arms.
Jennifer Gelband has a cow every time she eats beef.
The Loft, 622 W. Idaho St., 344-5223. Mon-Thur: 4 p.m.-2 a.m., Fri: 4 p.m.- 4 a.m., Sat: 5 p.m.- 4 a.m.