Monday, April 12, 2010
24: Excellent Menu, Top Notch Ingredients, Screwed With
24 emerged into the Waterloo Ice House space at 6th and Lamar a few months back, putting a retro-modern-local-foodie spin on a hallowed space. At first glance, and first bite, it works brilliantly. But the sheen fades a bit by the end.
The menu is almost all classic diner fare: waffles, burgers, and platters like pork chops and shepherd's pie. And the ingredients are nothing short of stunning: locally sourced organics with a list of the daily deliveries from local farms. It'd be hard to go wrong with that combination (see Monument Cafe, for example). Even their coffee is from solid local roaster Owl Tree Roasting.
But at 24, it just doesn't quite come together. The primary issue here: failure to follow the "if it ain't broke..." rule. The waffle, for instance, was infused with a sharp, almost boozy flavor - Grand Marnier, perhaps? Perfect otherwise - nice and crisp, prettily arranged, served with real maple syrup. But screwed with. Tracy's burger had the same issues: full of flavor at first bite, but then, with the eggy challah bun and the smoked aioli, too full of flavor by the last. It was a good burger, but it was screwed with.
Full disclosure here: I'm not a fan of adornments in my food. I like my chocolate chip cookies without nuts, and my cinnamon rolls without raisins. It takes a lot to improve on these things.
And that's really the issue I had with 24 - trying to improve on every classic it could get to - trying too hard to make the highlight reel, and not paying enough attention to the basics. Where they simply let the ingedients do the talking, as they did with coffee and with perfectly crispy bacon, this place shines. But where they infused, braised, and seasoned, they lost their way. I'm sympathetic to foodies who want to sling comfort food with a twist, just not interested in eating much more of it.