6 Must-Try Dishes on the New Menu at Growlers in Bella Vista

By Danya Henninger  |  May 12, 2014
Credit: Danya Henninger

How often do you eat a tofu sandwich so good you crave it the next day?

Ever since Jay Willard and Jason Evenchik took over the former Vesuvio’s in 2012 and turned it into Growlers, the corner of Eighth and Fitzwater has been a known destination for craft beer. What hasn’t been talked about is the food at this popular neighborhood hang. That may be about to change.

Michael Thomas, previously chef at Kraftwork, Bar Ferdinand and Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat, is now overseeing the Bella Vista kitchen, and his spring menu offers upscale small plates and entrees sprinkled among comfort food apps and sandwiches.

Wings are still on the menu, available by the pound, and so are housemade potato chips. The pulled pork mac ‘n’ cheese got an upgrade, though - it uses Vermont cheddar and smoked Gouda - and the egg-topped asparagus, while not ground-breaking, is several steps above pub grub. Then there’s that beer-battered tofu sandwich, plus daily specials of seared trout or salmon.

Click through for a look at six of the standouts, and next time you head over for a beer, maybe consider staying for dinner.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Mediterranean Meatloaf Sandwich

    Drenched in tzatziki sauce that was pungent without garlicking you to tears, Thomas' mix of lamb and beef comes off as one of the best meatloafs in the city. Overheard while sharing bites: "Better than most high-end dishes I've eaten lately."

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Asparagus With Fried Egg

    Nothing groundbreaking here - unless you consider stalks that snap instead of droop and an egg with just enough crisp but no rubberiness to be of note. Shaved Parmesan and fresh black pepper coat the tops of the classic pair.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Pulled Pork Mac 'n' Cheese

    Instead of a goopy mess that you feel bad about right after scarfing down, the bowl of mac here is more like a wonderfully cheesey pasta dish, with penne for noodles and plenty of flavor to go stand up to the Jameson-BBQ'd pulled pork. 

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Green Goddess Salad

    Baby lettuces, shaved vegetables and snappy string beans are tossed with just enough of the creamy dressing so it doesn't overwhelm. And think of it this way: if you get the salad, you'll have room for an extra pint of brew.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Pan-Seared Trout

    Baby bulbs of fennel are the best part of this plate, but the fish is flaky and perfectly cooked, so moist it hardly needs a swirl through the sauce on the side.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Royal With Cheese

    Like a Big Mac for vegetarians that's good enough carnivores will want to get in on it, too. Beer-battered tofu sits beneath provolone cheese and sautéed mushrooms, broccoli rabe, peppers and onions. The beer mustard dressing is light and spicy.