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Jun 10, 2009 06:29 AM

Great American Restaurants - Sweetwater Tavern

Sweetwater tavern is a branch of the amazing Great American Restaurant (GAR) chain. They have a brief menu and it is all good. I ate there again last night for my birthday and dinner was spectacular, again.

They make a half chicken with mashed potatoes and "brown butter sauce" that is to die for. The chicken has been cooked in a smoker and is juicy and tender, semi boneless. Then there is the brown butter sauce, be sure to ask for extra. It is nothing short of amazing. My kids will keep dipping their fingers into the sauce just to get a taste of it, after the chicken is long gone. Best part, this entree is only $13.

Other amazing dishes include anything with beef. The drunken rib eye is soaked in beer for a long time and then grilled to perfection. The taste is unique and great, the texture of the steak can be a little off after all that time in the beer, but it sure is good. At lunch, and usually only at lunch, they have fillet tips in tequila lime sauce over penne pasta. According to our server, as they hand trim the fillets for dinner they will have some leftover pieces and this was their answer about what to do with the pieces. It is heaven on a plate, great sauce, delicious beef flavor from the little bites of fillet. My boss, who only went there because I forced him (he hates "chain restaurants") said it was the best dish he had ever eaten.

They may be a chain, but they are an amazing chain. I highly recommend any of the GAR restaurant family (Carlyle Grand, Mikes American Grill, Coastal Flats, Sweetwater Tavern for sure). I have been going to Carlyle for 25+ years and was worried that expansion would hurt the quality, and if anything things just keep getting better. I just wish they would expand into Maryland.

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  1. woot4fun, thanks for the report. i have a friend who adores a shrimp-topped salad at coastal flats (Crispy Two Noodle Shrimp Salad
    salt & pepper fried shrimp with mixed greens, sesame almonds, mango, ginger vinaigrette & spicy peanut sauce).

    mike's american grill has had some of the best ribs i've ever tasted.

    i've been wanting some smoked chicken. i see it is billed as smoked and roasted, and only available "while it lasts"? >>Roasted Half Young Chicken
    rubbed with spices, smoked & slow roasted with basil redskin mashed potatoes & brown butter sauce...while it lasts<<< does it taste really smoky, or just mildly smoky?

    ps i see that the apple crisp ( Deep Dish Apple Pie Almond Streusel
    vanilla ice cream) is still offered at carlyle with the amazing crunchy-almondy crispy topping. does anyone have a recipe? i asked years ago, but the chef refused to give his recipe.

    come to think of it, i think "value for money", this chain represents the best of washington area dining.

    4 Replies
    1. re: alkapal

      The "while it lasts" applies to their ribs as well. From my understanding, it's an overnight deal after the dinner service shuts down and anything smoked is loaded onto the grills with the remaining wood to keep it going low & slow overnight. It's pulled out when prep starts the next day and then heated & sauced when ordered. The amount made is dependent on the grill space available, and if they have a run on the smoked meats early in service, the latecomers are out of luck that day.

      I still miss the Tuscan bean soup some of the GAR restaurants had on the menu. I used to order a bowl as an appetizer on Mondays, and oftentimes had a second bowl as my entree.

      1. re: weezycom

        weezycom. thanks, that sounds like a good deal to me!

      2. re: alkapal

        "does it taste really smoky, or just mildly smoky?"

        Really smoky. Had it last week--it was good but a little too smoky for me; the boyfriend loved it though.

        1. re: Peyton

          thanks, peyton. i think i know where i'm having lunch soon! ;-).

      3. Your description of the brown butter chicken is a work of art in itself!

        However, in general I have found the GAR steaks, including the drunken ribeye at Sweetwater, to be too sweet. With some of the others, they have gone overboard burning sugar onto their steaks to get a gorgeous crust on them. Yes, the steaks look fantastic, but too sweet for my taste.

        Artie's is overall the winner of their empire and a darn good restaurant. My favorite GAR dish is their Boathouse Steak Salad, which looks and tastes great and is inexpensive to boot. Coastal Flats would be better if they didn't use sodium as a crutch.