Sunnyslope's Spoke & Wheel Off to a Wobbly Start
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out and let you know our initial impressions. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Photos by Laura Hahnefeld Short rib poutine
Open just one week, and with almost as many bicycles near the front entrance as cars in its parking lot, Spoke & Wheel, Sunnyslope's new bike-friendly restaurant, already has captured the attention of both two- and four-wheeled travelers in the neighborhood.
Located in the former Dillon's, the restaurant comes courtesy of Wildthyme Restaurant Group, whose associates include Heinrich Stasiuk and chef Mercer Mohr, owners of Timo, their wine bar just north of Spoke & Wheel, and Brick, a gourmet pizzeria downtown.
But Spoke & Wheel has some work to do before it can lose the training wheels.
The menu, created by chef-owner Mohr, is a listing of upscale tavern food in the form of small plates, sharable dishes, and entrees. In the adult libations category, there are signature cocktails with names like The Drunk Biker and Easy Rider, as well as wine and beer.
For now, you should probably skip the short rib poutine ($7.85), a small and sad-looking offering of flavorless cheese curds, dry pieces of short rib, and an oxtail gravy tasting mostly of wine. The same advice could be taken for the three street tacos ($8.95). Overfilled with average chicken and chopped steak and a less-than-acceptable seared tuna, they suffered from bland toppings and housemade corn tortillas that do not taste housemade. The best thing about the dish is the accompanying cup of white bean soup.
Burgers and sandwiches do better.