Battle of the Meatloaf

We've been a little under the weather lately and craving comfort foods. Chicken and dumplings. Mashed potatoes. And meatloaf, which always manages to fill our hearts and our bellies with warm beefy joy whenever we're laid up with a cold.

This week, we got a double dose of our favorite comfort cure as we compared the meatloaf sandwiches at two local restaurants -- one Irish and one serving regional fare.

In One Corner: Regions Bistro & Bar
640 S. Mill Ave. in Tempe
480-966-2260

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The gravy makes this meatloaf.

Regions Bistro & Bar started off a little shaky, opening then closing then reopening under new management, all in 2009. The downtown Tempe location is contemporary and welcoming, with brown and green damask-printed banquettes, tons of windows and a huge bar that's open to the street on mild weather days.  

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​It's a great location, right in the heart of the Mill Avenue district at Sixth St. The only downside is that if you're sitting at the bar or one of the nearby high-tops on a nice day, the thick, unpleasant scent of cigars wafts over from the Churchill's cigar shop next door. Ugh. What good is the smoking ban if you still have to eat with cigar stink?

We ordered the Original Meatloaf Sandwich at lunchtime and our dish arrived open-faced with a heap of mashed potatoes and two crispy onion rings piled on top. Thick, near-black mushroom gravy was drizzled on the whole concoction. This was definitely a knife-and-fork sammy. We dug in to the thick slice of meatloaf, which was nicely flavored with mild spices. We were disappointed by the lack of carrots (and flavor) as compared with the Mom's Wild Mushroom Meatloaf dinner we'd had before at the Regions in Scottsdale.

"It's a little dry," remarked our dining companion. "But the gravy really helps. And one onion ring is plenty...this is too much." 

The loaf itself was a bit dehydrated, but as our friend pointed out the delicious and rich gravy assisted in moistening the beef. In fact it was probably the best part of the dish. The mashed potatoes were cooked exactly to our liking, with just a hint of skin and enough subtle lumps to give it texture, and the onion ring topped it off with a nice mellow crunch.

The bread, on the other hand, was soggy. Not surprising, since it looked like a slice of Wonder bread -- which barely holds up to peanut butter and jelly, much less a giant hunk of meat and potatoes. Still, we ate the whole dish, leaving nothing but a few scraps of disintegrating bread and one onion ring behind.

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