Friday, September 20, 2013

Every Restaurant in Gilroy…

isn’t Mexican. It just seems that way.

And that is understandable. Located in one of California’s many agricultural regions, Gilroy is home to many seasonal and permanent farm workers who are overwhelmingly of Hispanic background.

But what if you aren’t in the mood for Mexican food? You take to the internet and investigate alternatives. And that brings us to Station 55 Bar & Grill which is located at 55 5th Street in downtown Gilroy.
Wonder why it is called Station 55? The answer is (Can I hear a drum roll here?) that it is located in a 1905 two-story fire station.

Really, nothing much remains of the building’s days as a fire house. The two front “garage” doors that provided exit and entrance for the fire trucks have been replaced with large windows. The original brick walls are intact and serve as a backdrop for sepia photos of fire equipment from days gone by.

The most recognizable item is the old fire pole by which the firemen (and in those days they were fireMEN as opposed to firefighters) reached the first floor from their eating and sleeping quarters above.

The second floor is now used as a sports bar and one has to assume that some barrier exists upstairs to deter those who have had one too many beers from making a potentially dangerous slide.

We arrived later than expected for breakfast. (Is it just us or as you are shutting down your computer to go somewhere do you see that ominous message “Do not turn off your computer. Installing 1 of 19 updates”?) So when we arrived at 10:30 a.m. all three staff members asked if we wanted breakfast or lunch.

“Whatever you are serving” I answered.

“Both” was the reply.

Breakfast it was.

The breakfast menu is brief but has a “create your own” omelet item along with an eggs/potatoes/meat combo, French toast, pancakes, and waffles. I chose the Firehouse Special—chorizo scrambled with eggs and served with corn or flour tortillas and your choice of country potatoes (i.e., home fries) or hash browns. I took the hash browns, and although I forgot to ask for “crisp”, crisp is the way they came.
I am really picky when it comes to hash browns and these were really good—crisp on the outside and soft, but not mushy, on the inside. I learned on a recent episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives that many chefs think that flash-frozen hash brown potatoes are better than those they could shred in their own kitchens.

The chorizo was nicely spicy without being overwhelming. And accompanying the dish was a cup of house-made roasted tomato salsa that was so good that you wanted to take a bath in it.

We are still looking for good biscuits and gravy, so Chuck was interested when he saw this listed as a combo (with eggs, potatoes, and a choice of meat) on the menu. But before ordering he questioned our server about the gravy’s preparation. In particular, he wanted to know if the sausage was added to the white sauce just prior to serving. There is nothing worse than morsels of meat surrounded by a bland and pasty white sauce. After being assured that the sausage goes in when the white sauce is prepared in the morning, he went ahead and ordered. The gravy was pretty good, but in my opinion, could have used more sausage. But the shortcoming was the biscuits which were very heavy.
The country potatoes were good and contained bits of onion and bell pepper and the eggs were nicely scrambled.

Too bad about those biscuits.

I know that this restaurant has just recently come under new ownership, so it may need some time to get things right. For now, it only merits 3.5 Addies.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

We had parked in front of the Gilroy Museum, which was housed in the historic 1910 Carnegie Library Building. The library was built with a $10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie.

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