Review: MOTR

MOTR’s concept is simple: a bar and music venue that has a restaurant Genius! How often have you been to Southgate House, Northside Tavern, 20th Century, or wherever you hear live, local music and had a craving for food? MOTR took the old Cooper’s spot and turned it back into a venue that Main Street can be proud of, and unlike many bars that may have taken over a space that has a kitchen, uses its powers for (mostly) good.

MOTR is run by some local music heavyweights: Dan McCabe (Midpoint Music Festival and Sudsy Malone’s), Chris Schadler (Southgate House) and Catherine Pleva (an MCI Grad who’s cooked for acts from Willie Nelson to the Cannibal Corpses). They offer food as late as folks are still listening to music, and brunch on the weekends.

Well, they only do brunch on Sunday. Their website, until recently, had some conflicting information: initially, they did brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and if the attendance when we were there is any indication, Saturday wasn’t a big hit. They now do brunch on Sunday, lunch on Saturday, and food every night of the week. There are two floors, but my favorite room is the big front room with an even bigger, dark wood bar. For lunch on Saturday, the bartender took our order, and the chef delivered our meal– again, not terribly crowded.

Terry definitely wanted a burger (big surprise, I know), so he went with the MOTR burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, cheese, mustard and a side of the chipotle mayo. Terry gave the burger a “good” rating– not the best, but certainly competent. The addition of the beer-battered onion petals were a nice touch, but the burger itself needed a bit more seasoning in order to take it to the “wow” category. I do give them credit for making their own buns and using local beef, though I doubt the beef is grass fed– just not quite flavorful enough.

I was in an odd mood, I guess, because as soon as I saw “cheese fries” on the menu, I had to have them. In order to pretend to be healthy (hey, Saturdays are whatever-you-want days at my house, to make up for the overload of chicken, Kashi and vegetables we eat the rest of the week) I ordered their simple salad. Though the salad itself was very simple (lettuce, tomato, house-made croutons, cucumber), the homemade ranch dressing was memorable. It’s not a dressing I normally order, but the fresh dill really brightened up what can be a heavy, uninteresting dressing.

The cheese fries were slightly disappointing, but could have been great. They were topped with slightly dried-out melted cheese, bacon, scallions, and sour cream. I had ordered the beer cheese as well, and these would have been perfect had the beer cheese replaced the melted cheese. Their beer cheese is not the slightly plasticky stuff you find at most places; instead, it just screams “good bar food”– a nice, sharp beer tang mixed with creamy cheddar. The downside was the cheese was served cold, and not warm. Warming the cheese and slathering the fries (because, let’s face it: no one eats cheese fries and expects them to not be messy, gooey, and terrible for you) would make these killer.

They have a full bar and a great draft and bottle beer selection: lots of locals and craft beer.

MOTR has a ton of possibility. Just a few tweaks will make their food not just a convenience when watching fantastic local music (check out their upcoming shows), but a destination where the food isn’t just the opening act, but the headliner.

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