Thoughts About The Opening
Last night, I attended the grand opening of The Slider Inn, a bar and burger restaurant on the corner of Peabody and Cooper. As the name applies, it will focus on the miniature Slider hamburger that has recently benefited from a renaissance in popularity as restaurants ranging from Burger King to Hooters to even upscale eateries like Memphis' Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar have adopted it. Slider Inn's version is exactly the same as the one made by Bardog Tavern, which makes sense given that Aldo Demartino owns both restaurants. In terms of quality, I couldn't tell a difference, meaning that Aldo and his staff were well prepared for the opening.
Speaking of Slider Inn's opening, it seemed to be pretty successful, due to the high turnout. The restaurant gave out free food, liquor and beer, although the bar cut the free tap on the latter after 7:00 P.M. The inside of the restaurant/bar is quite small, about the same size as a living room of a medium-sized house. However, there are quite a few tables on the patio, all equipped with umbrella covering that should keep diners cool. One of my friends pointed out that the tables, made of wood, were all sanded down to prevent diners from getting splinters. When I thought about that, I realized that Aldo and his staff paid attention to even the smallest of details. The only gripe that I had on opening night was having to constantly get my server's attention, but given the circumstances, I'll let it "slide" and assume things will get better.
As of now, The Slider Inn doesn't have an official menu, but if the upcoming menu is similar to Bardog's, it may not bode well for the bar long term (UPDATE: the restaurant has since developed a menu for its "official" opening September 1, 2011; to see it, click here). Although I and many others like Bardog, The Slider Inn is located in a neighborhood where the residents are more health conscious which could dissuade some of them from dining there. As an example of this, another friend who was with me pointed out that the only thing she could eat there that night was the French fries. As a vegan, she could never consider The Slider Inn as a dining option due to the lack of menu options. Fortunately, she made her case to one of the managers there who was very receptive in what she had to say. While I don't expect the place to become another Imagine Vegan Cafe, I hope that the restaurant can accommodate her and others with a few choices. Doing so will make the place even more appealing than it is now.
Based on what I experienced, I believe that The Slider Inn has a good chance at being successful as long as the place is well managed and offers things that people like, such as $3.00 PBRs. With so many former restaurants failing in Slider Inn's current location, it's going to take a lot of work to keep the restaurant going. I'm confident that Aldo and his staff (which includes Brooke, who appeared to be supervising the wait staff) are capable of meeting the challenge, and I expect good things from the bar/restaurant in the future.
Liked the Vegan Slider
A couple of weeks after the "soft opening" of the Slider Inn, I visited it again for a light dinner. Initially, I was going to get a couple of beef sliders, but after being informed by Aldo, (the bar's owner) that a vegan slider was added to the menu, I decided to give it a try. Before I go on, I want to state that I'm neither a vegetarian nor a vegan, but I appreciate good food regardless of what it is. That said, I ordered a couple of vegan sliders with a glass of water. I thought I had told my server that I wanted a PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon), but she might not have heard me. Although with me having a few beers earlier, I might have been better off without it.
As for the vegan slider, my first impression of it was very positive. The slider is a mash-up of many ingredients, most notably black beans and rice, with onions for spiciness. The texture of the slider patty isn't dense, and the two that I had went down nicely without weighing too heavy in my stomach. As I was eating them, I detected a bit of sweetness in them, which could have been due to the molasses that I later discovered is also an ingredient. Overall, I was very impressed with what the Slider Inn came up with. Although my opinion on this may not mean much, given that I'm a "meat man," I can definitely see myself ordering a vegan slider along with two beef sliders. So for vegans (like my friend who was with me at the bar's opening) who are looking for a good meal, I suggest giving the vegan slider a chance.
By the way, the Slider Inn now has a menu consisting mostly of sliders that is fairly inexpensive. With the exception of the Lobster Roll that cost $15.99, everything on the menu is under $10. Even though the bar is focusing on slider burgers, I wouldn't mind seeing a pasta dish like Bardog Tavern's Spaghetti and Meatballs added to the menu in the future. However, I like how the bar's management is running things so far, and the fact that they were willing listen to me and others about we wanted and doing their best to meet those demands says a lot about their determination to make the Slider Inn a success. I wish them the best of luck and look forward to eating there often.