Restaurant Review: Westies in Clintonville
Westies set up shop in Wine Bistro’s old digs in Clintonville. Gone is all the wine-centric decor, although surely Westies’ attractive bar could count as “decor,” and the place still serves a range of beer, wine and cocktails. The dining space now boasts super cool, long booths you can enter from either side. The booths are a definite high-point.
Not that the rest of the house is bad, the biggie booths are just especially lovable. Certainly, the servers are engaging, and the items tried have been sufficiently tasty. The menu isn’t complex or nouveau. Rather, the new Westies offers solid bar food. The Clintonville edition is an honest burger-bar hang-out kind of place. Gastrophiles who confuse Westies’ mission with that of the Wine Bistro will probably find disappointment. But, if you want some nachos and maybe some sauerkraut balls, Westies has you covered.
And besides, the Nachos ($11) are noteworthy. Most restaurants know that you can achieve diner satisfaction in the nacho department with only a few ingredients: chips, meat, sour cream, salsa. Boom, happiness. Westies puts magical bonus things in the mix. Within an order of nachos comes guacamole, a kicked up ancho sour cream, pico de gallo, beer cheese, fresh cilantro and a choice of meat (the chicken is fine). It’s too much, and in the best possible way. The combo makes every heavy bite a little different, so it’s an adventureland of savory flavor.
Beyond the nachos, there are Sauerkraut Balls ($8). With a crisped exterior that gives way to its sturdy innards, the globes are a good traditional version; something akin to hushpuppies with a little extra heft and zing.
The Westies Burger is priced like a fancy burger, but it’s pretty regular. With cheese, greens, and mildly sweet bread & butter pickles on a brioche bun, the burger serves its purpose. It’s not going to change the world. You can substitute fries for the accompanying chips for an extra buck. That takes it to $14, which feels like the going rate of something a little fancier than what you actually get. Then again, Bareburger down the street is doing well with the same sort of schtick. It’s apparently what eaters want.
The Chilli ($6) is a better value. Nary a bean in the bowl, that’s an accomplishment in an age of cheap filler. Instead, it presents a mix of meat with an identifiable mellow contribution from a Guiness-enhanced base, and it’s served with sour cream and parsley for your fresh veggies.
Westies menu features plant-based options that work for the vegetarian diner too. Case in point: while its pizzas are fully customizable, there are a range of house combos that are meat-free. The Bianco ($12) is a big round of cheesy bread with provolone, mozzarella, basil and oregano. Again, it won’t change the world, but there won’t be any leftovers either.
Westies has a kids menu, and it does brunch on weekends. Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. on Fridays with specials and a bar selection that includes everything from domestic bottles and cocktails to Chardonnay. You can find its new location at 4416 N. High St.
For more information, visit westiesgastropub.com.