I don’t remember what movie it was, but you’re going to know what I’m talking about when I sum it up here. A group of out of towners are looking for something to eat at a place they’ve never been to before and pick a restaurant at random, or perhaps because they looked online and saw that they had a few kinds of nachos to try there. They pull into the parking lot, wade through the crowd of locals on the front steps smoking and giving the side eye, and enter the restaurant. As they step into the dining room and a hush goes over the room as silence descends and everyone inside turns to stare at them. If there was a record player going it would have scratched as well. If this restaurant was down South someone would have asked, “You lost boy?” You know the kind of place I’m talking about. But imagine that this was not a movie and that this restaurant was a real place I went to, and that it wasn’t down South, relatively in the United States that is. No, this restaurant was in Warrenton, Oregon, just outside of Astoria. This restaurant was Rod’s Bar and Grill.
To say that we were warmly welcomed would be an exaggeration. Indeed, to reference another film, if we were greeted by one ululating and pointing Donald Sutherland it would have been easily twice as welcoming as the place we walked into. But we were there for nachos, not to make new friends, so whatever. When the one waitress, who was also the bartender since nobody else decided to show up for work that day, eventually came over we ordered the Supreme Nachos, and also the Irish Nachos because who not. She warned us gravely that the Supreme Nachos were very large, served on a cafeteria tray as a matter of fact, and we were all, “Are you trying to dissuade us from eating these or make us hunger for them even more!” Her warning given and Harbinger status confirmed, the one waitress/bartender went and told the one chef our order (remember, nobody else decided to show up for work that day) and we waited.
For an hour.
I’m not sure if this is a tactic to build up your hunger as you prepare yourself to eat a tray of nachos, or what happens when 2 people try to service a busy restaurant, but when then finally arrived we were certainly hungry. Hungry enough for two orders of nachos, one of which was a literal cafeteria tray of them? 100%. They were even also out of olives so someone must have been looking over me that day.
The Irish Nachos were rather topping heavy, which would have been great if they also had a bunch of cheese to let said toppings stick to the fires, but they didn’t. While there was a liberal amount of everything else, the lack of an equal liberal amount of cheese caused most of the toppings to fall off the fries and onto the plate to be eaten later. Chips are at least a flat plane that can be used to some degree to scoop up fallen toppings, but floppy, flaccid fries won’t do any of that. The result, you have to pick up some fries with one hand and use a spoon in the other to grab toppings in order to get the full experience. Despite being based on traditional Mexican Nachos, the Irish variety is truly a different beast and does need to treated differently topping wise. It’s much the same way you how you would treat and put different toppings on an Elephant and an Elephant Seal respectively, even though they are both animals and have similar names.
The Supreme Nachos coming on a cafeteria tray seems like a selling point that should be advertised, because WHO DOESN’T WANT TO EAT A WHOLE CAFETERIA TRAY FULL OF NACHOS! Seriously, you advertise that you sell a tray of nachos, you’ll have people knocking down the door to give those a try rather than just stumble across them by accident. Here’s what’s on the menu currently:
SUPREME NACHOS: choose chicken or beef, with nacho cheese, jalapenos, olives, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream
Now change that to:
A CAFETERIA TRAY FULL OF NACHOS: choose chicken or beef, with nacho cheese, jalapenos, olives, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream
I know which one I’d be more apt to ordering, even if they’re just glorified concession nachos, because oh yes, these are just glorified concession nachos. Sure, they do use real chips and tomatoes, so there’s that, but that is literally that. If they had instead used the nacho cheese on the Irish Nachos so the toppings would stick to them and used the shredded cheese on these to class it up some it would have been a vast improvement. Guess I’ll need to go to the alternate reality where they do that and have more than two staff in the whole building for that to happen.
What else there is, which I’m sure you can see from the picture, are the giant chicken strips. One could say that maybe chicken strips should be cut into smaller pieces so that they’re not way larger than the chips themselves, and so you could eat them in one bite. One could also say that smaller pieces could be spread out over more chips to visually increase the number of toppings and give more chips some chicken flavor, but still using the same amount of chicken. One could also say, hey, what do I know, I’ve only been writing about nachos for 5 years now.
One could also say that maybe actual chicken strips should be used rather than whatever was served here. Yes, it’s chicken, don’t let me give you the wrong idea, but this looks to be chicken that was processed into a slurry and then pressed into something resembling a cutlet which is then cooked. Fun fact, if you zoom in on it you can see all the little air bubbles that formed during whatever pressing technique was used! Delicious! While this is the same process that is used in fast food burgers to no ill effect, when applied to chicken it doesn’t come across quite the same. Can you taste the difference between this and actual chicken? You know it. After overhearing the guy at the bar complaining about whatever chicken he got and how it looked undercooked, maybe this way was the better way to go.
After all this, the nachos were unsurprisingly just as OK as you would expect, although the extremely long wait that built up the hunger to levels where anything would have come across as delicious might have helped with how easily they went down. So the questions for you dear reader are, “Do you like your restaurants to be places where you are an obvious outsider? Do you like your restaurants to be places where they have some OK but not overly fancy nachos?” You will certainly encounter tastier nachos and friendlier clientele elsewhere, but if you want to live on the edge and get a little local flavor, check out Rod’s Bar and Grill. If not, El Compadre Mexican Restaurant is literally right across the intersection from this and you could check them out. We didn’t go there so they might not be any better tasting, but I bet they’d make you feel like less of the titular character from H.P. Lovecraft’s 1921 short story ”The Outsider” if you went by yourself, or like Francis Ford Coppola's 1983 film “The Outsiders” if you went as a group.