One thing I’ve learned in the time I’ve been doing this is that some places are, for lack of a better word, institutions. These establishments have fiercely loyal fanbases, including individuals who will resort to base insults and nonsensical rants should you speak ill of their darlings. Normally, I don’t like to give a lot away in the opening paragraph of a write-up, but I get the feeling I’m going to anger some people with this one. If you don’t want to hear any negative comments about Westside Drive In, I’d suggest that you stop reading now.
I’d been to Westside before, but it had been quite some time. I think I was still a teenager, as a matter of fact. I didn’t remember being overly impressed with the place, but then again I’m shocked to think of some of the food that DID impress me at that age. I’d been wanting to make a return trip ever since I moved to Eagle and drive past the place all the time now, so when they popped up as a deal of the day on Groupon, I couldn’t help myself.
The roommate and I decided it might be a good place to bring her kids along to, so we loaded them in the car and off we went. I was shocked to see that the menu hadn’t changed in any major way in the last fifteen years or so, but I also considered it a good sign considering how many burger joints are selling espresso drinks and fruit smoothies now. The youngest member of our party decided on the corn dog, her sister chose the chicken strips (this is pretty much all she ever orders anywhere), my roomie picked the bacon cheeseburger, while I finally settled on the fish n’ chips. After a quick discussion, we headed to Camel’s Back Park to eat.
|A corn dog. No, I’m not insulting your intelligence!|
The corn dog went over well with pre-schooler, but it’s a hard item to screw up. Then again, I have seen it done, so I’m just going to chalk this up as a win for Westside.
|Chicken strip or giant nugget? You be the judge.|
The tween, probably the fussiest eater I’ve ever known, declared the chicken strips “okay”, but described them as being like giant chicken nuggets. I have to confess that I would have expected a little more crispy/crunchy out of them, but perhaps they’re keeping it safe because it’s kid’s menu item?
|Fries. These might be my most obvious and idiotic captions ever.|
The fries didn’t impress anyone in our group. In fact, I think I was the only one who liked them at all, but then I’d had lightly battered fries before. I didn’t even mind that they were herbed, but it didn’t go over well with the children. And yes, those are fortune cookies in the background, included as a dessert I guess? Very interesting for a burger joint…
|Bacon Cheeseburger. Sigh.|
Speaking of burgers, the Bacon Cheeseburger was the clear winner for best entrée of the night. It was thick and juicy with a generous amount of fresh veggies and real cheese. Even the bun was nice. The roommate wasn’t happy that it came with special sauce, but in my experience that’s pretty common at the “mom and pop” joints.
I was less impressed with my meal. Don’t get me wrong, the fish tasted fine, the portion was perfectly generous, and the tater tots were serviceable although nothing special. My issue was with whatever oil it is that they’re cooking the fish in. It’s not the kind that just leaves your fingers slick and greasy, but the type that cools to a sticky gel that fouls everything you touch. I tried to wipe it off , but only succeeded in coating my finger tips with scraps of the tissue paper-thin napkins provided, which then had to be scraped off. Speaking of this edible petroleum jelly, I decided for the first (and last) time to take advantage of the option to show my Groupon on my smartphone rather than printing it. The cashier got this same gunk on the screen of my phone. It took a damp paper towel to remove it.
Usually when my tastes clash with the general consensus, it’s in regard to chain restaurants (Olive Garden was an honorable mention in the Statesman’s Best of Treasure Valley this year under “Best Italian Restaurant”, a fact which frankly horrifies me). Every rare once in a while though, I simply don’t dig a place that most people love, and I simply can’t understand it. Speaking of the Statesman, Westside took top honors in the Best Finger Steak category, so maybe I should have ordered those, though I wonder if they use the same oil on them that they do for the fish. I guess it’s never too late, but to be honest I’m in no big rush to return. Then again, they do have a “Giant BLT”, and really good chocolate malts…
Food: A couple of standouts, but most of it was “just okay”. B-
Value: Pretty good with a coupon or on a special, otherwise “just okay” as well. C+
Service: The food was served competently but not friendly, and she slimed my smartphone! C-
Atmosphere: Cool old-fashioned drive-in style. A-
Final Grade: C+