BELLINGHAM -- Scotty Brown's eclectic menu and electric atmosphere has been drawing crowds of customers since its opening in a second-floor Barkley Village venue just a few weeks ago.
Owner Scott Morison operates six other restaurants in the Vancouver, B.C. area under the name Brown's Socialhouse, according to the company Web site.
We hear that people are cutting back spending these days, but you'd never know that from a visit to Scotty Brown's. During a recent midweek visit, this sprawling place was packed.
You probably wouldn't choose Scotty Brown's to propose marriage or work out the fine points of a business deal. The dull roar of conversation makes it necessary to raise your voice to chat with dinner companions. But if you like a high-energy sports bar environment with lots of rich food choices, you may enjoy being part of this crowd.
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Even in the dining area, most tables get a full view of the giant television screens hanging from the bar ceiling, so the game of the night is there for your entertainment or distraction.
Wines here are available in six-ounce, nine-ounce, or bottle-sized portions, and the selection was adequate.
Besides burgers and personal pizzas in the $10-$12 range, the menu also offers steak, seafood and pasta choices at the upper end of the local price scale, topped by a $26 New York steak. The strategy seems to be aimed at pleasing the sports bar crowd while also luring some of the fine-dining aficionados.
We started with pulled pork nachos, $13, with black beans, sour cream, salsa and banana peppers. It was delicious, yet so immense that the two of us never managed to finish it.
We decided to sample main courses from both ends of the price spectrum. The $26 New York steak exceeded expectations. It was a very tender piece of beef, nicely-seasoned and accompanied with fresh horseradish, thoughtfully-sauteed green beans and yellow squash, plus some first-rate mashed red potatoes.
The $11 hickory burger, prepared with Canadian bacon, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce, was less successful. A number of local gourmet burger joints do a better job. My complaint was not with the meat or the toppings but the bun - one of those Wonderbread-style things that dissolves into mush long before the burger can be consumed. A more substantial sort of roll would be a big improvement.
On the plus side, the burger can be ordered with yam fries, and yam fries are both more interesting and more nutritious than the traditional spuds.
Also, our service was quite good considering the crush of customers. Our server was attentive but not obtrusive.
We'll be interested to see if this place continues to draw hordes of customers after the novelty wears off.
Address: 3101 Newmarket St., Barkley Village
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday
Price range: $10-26