Getting consistently good food in a college town is difficult. It’s hard enough for a kitchen staff who have worked together for years to churn out consistent recipes day after day, but if you add the ever changing populations and constantly migrating staff of a college town, it can be nearly impossible. Even some of the better restaurants in the New River Valley can vary wildly in the quality of the finished product and rapidly rotating servers only excaserbate restaurant challenges.
Into this environment I nominate one of my favorite restaurants. I am a creature of habit. Those that know me well often make fun of my “beats.” The New River Valley Grill on a certain day. Split wood on this day. Rarely leave the house except to visit those establishments I like best or to embark on a wild, largely unscripted adventure to somewhere. The Underground Pub is one of my all time favorite restaurants. Largely known for their darts and “townie” atmosphere, it also home to some of the best pub fare I have ever had. Ever.
The majority of their staff have been employed for five years or more and they take pride in knowing their lunch customers by name. They are also known for a kind of cult menu – Shepherds Pie on Thursdays, Prime Rib on the last Friday of every month – which, by the way, is the steal of the century. A massive cut of Prime Rib, house salad, baked potato, roll and all the condiments for, drum roll, nine bucks. Their kitchen, albeit small, under the supervision of some incredible cooks, is capable of rolling out massive amounts of food. Laura and I have been regulars for years and don’t need a menu, but our favorites are The Mound (massive amount of ribeye on a local roll), the French Dip, the Pub Special, Oyster Po’ Boy and the Underground Pizza. It’s all good. Trust me.
But my weakness is, and always will be, a Cheeseburger. I like mine with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and mayo. Oh, and American Cheese. I may be a foodie, if all the rumours are true, but I do love the way American Cheese, if it is even cheese, melts over a grilled burger. Oh, my, God. These guys take it up a notch. Their burgers are locally sourced from pasture raised, grass finished, dry-aged beef, grilled to perfection and generally ready in eight minutes. Get outta here. Really? Would you rather sit in a drive through and get a burger that actually has poop in it or go to a place where they remember your name, serve you your favorite drink, have beer on tap and take pride in their food???? I think that argument is done.
Oh, and the beer – the best selection of beer on tap in the NRV. The bartenders can give you descriptions and guide you to a new favorite and the taps change regularly. Bands on Sundays and did I mention darts? The single best place for darts in our area, period.
We try not to have our favorites at the Pub, but we do enjoy everyone there – Shout outs to Donnie, Hudson, John, Zack and all those that I am forgetting, along with our favorite regulars, Dave, Jaimie and to all you other guys that I eat lunch with every Thursday. Stay real and drop in for a bite. And a pint. Or two. Or seven. But don’t forget to enjoy the food!