The set-up: When The Social House Supper Pub relocated from Uptown to Addison this summer, they did so with the stated mission of serving regular food to regular people. Sentences such as this fill me with apprehension. While I, too, find foodie elitism tedious, the mission to eradicate it often ends up playing to a lower common denominator with items that are easily identified and palate-friendly but not especially well-executed.
Still, I like to be surprised.
After three weeks in business, online reviews were all over the map, some commenters raved about the shrimp Florentine pizza, while others had a more mediocre experience with the drinks and entrees. Our GPS was of little help to us in actually finding the place. Located inside the same plaza as Dream Cafe and Mercy Wine Bar, The Social House is oddly invisible, even with its corner location. The wood sign blends in to the wood frontage; we only caught it on the third lap.
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On the menu: I seldom met a pickle I didn’t like, so naturally we started with the cornmeal-crusted, fried pickles with a buttermilk dip ($5.95). The pickle rounds were plentiful but salty enough to burn the tongue. On the encouragement of our server, we also ordered the Buffalo-fried calamari fries, which arrived as a pile of breaded, steak-cut calamari coated in spicy, orange Buffalo-wing sauce and garnished with batter fried jalapeno strips ($5.95). The idea (minus the wing sauce) is interesting, but in reality, the overwhelming hot sauce completely drowns out any other aspect of the experience. Even the texture of what might have been very pleasant calamari strips is overshadowed.
For our entrees, we selected from several categories: The Sink burger—a beef burger with white cheddar and Swiss cheese, pulled pork, and fried onion strings ($13.95)—from the Burgers menu; the Guinness-braised beef short ribs served with garlic mashed potatoes and Guinness pan jus ($18.95) from the Entrées menu; and the three-cheese shrimp Florentine pizza with garlic-and-herb-marinated shrimp, sautéed spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese ($9.95) from the Social Pies menu.
The Sink burger was meaty but not as flavorful as other pub burgers around town. Still it was not objectionable. The short ribs, although remarkably fatty, had solid flavor and were accompanied by an excellent side of not-at-all-overcooked asparagus. The shrimp Florentine pizza, however, was an utter fail. The pizza had exactly eight pieces of shrimp (one per slice), no visible spinach, and no flavor. When we pointed out the absence of spinach, the manager offered to make us another pie, explaining that you have to ask for whole spinach leaves if you wanted to be able to see it, otherwise the spinach was chopped up and blended into the sauce.
Who was there: When we arrived at 6:30 pm, nine people sat at the bar. Many appeared settled-in, as if they intended to make a daily, after-work home of it. Two tables were filled. The crowd was in shorts and jeans with t-shirts and the occasional collared shirt.
Where to sit: Booths against the wall farthest from the door have the best view of the room. Apart from that, no tables appear superior to the others.
Price: Dinner for three ran us $58.24 before tip. We did not have drinks from the bar, which accounts for the modest bill.
Nice detail: Our waiter, Adriel, was both gentlemanly and helpful. The bar boasts a 50-beer tap selection. The kitchen also claims to cook everything in-house using fresh, local produce.
The takeaway: Social House remains a solid place for a beer, but not so much a dining destination. The restaurant’s PR calls Social House, “the first supper pub to come to the United States, bringing you a unique experience in dining and drinking.” What that means is anyone’s guess.