I’ve always enjoyed restaurants and bars that stick to a consistent theme for their décor and for the names for their menu items, IF they don’t overdo it. So I was happy to see that Collision Brewing’s “vintage body shop” theme is tasteful and fun, but never gaudy. It looks a bit like an old-fashioned “fillin’ station” on the outside, complete with retro gas pumps out front, but the inside is open, airy, hip and modern, with just enough car-related decorations to keep your attention if you’re interested but not distract you if you aren’t. The large overhead garage doors, which are open to the patio whenever it’s nice enough, also happen to afford stunning mountain views.
But on to the food and drink. We visited around five on a Friday evening and scored the last two remaining seats at the bar. We were in time for happy hour, and we wanted something to munch on while we looked over the menu.
At happy hour, appetizers are $1 off. Not a screamin’ deal compared to some other happy hours around town, but hey, every dollar counts.
We got the Backfire Cauliflower ($10 at happy hour, $11 regular), which is battered in tempura and tossed with sriracha citrus sauce, lemon, lime and orange. As a bonus for those keeping track, the tempura batter is gluten-free, and so are several other menu items, all clearly marked. I didn’t love it and probably wouldn’t order it again; some of the pieces were soggy rather than crispy.
It was difficult for my beer-drinking companion to choose a beer, so he opted for a flight of six 5-ounce beers ($12), served on a custom steering-wheel tray. He chose five of the house beers, including Roll Over IPA, Road Rash IPA and 1st Gear, but couldn’t decide on the other two and let the bartender choose. She went with a guest tap, Grimm Brother Blackberry Belgian, and it was one of his favorites on the wheel.
When it was time to order entrees, I hit quite a roadblock, because too many things looked enticing. The man next to me was chowing down on The Philly ($12), with slow-roasted prime rib, sautéed peppers and onions, and queso blanco. His companion was enjoying the Peach Cobb Salad ($9), which I had already heard good things about from a friend. It’s a large oval plate of romaine topped with candied pecans, seared peaches, bacon, green onions, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber and bleu cheese crumbles.
I finally decided on the Fixer-Upper Classic Cheeseburger ($12), simply topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles. I ordered it medium and it arrived closer to medium rare, but since I was sort of full from the appetizer, I ate around the edges and avoided the bright red middle. I’m sure they would have fixed it for me had I asked. I was also surprised to see that their French fries changed recently; they’re now roundish, spiral-cut wedges that almost look like thick potato chips from a distance. They were okay but a little too thick, and they caught me off guard.
I appreciated the expansive burger page of the menu, but it’s what caused the roadblock in my ordering process. There are nine creative house burgers to choose from, including the Wagyu Kimchi Burger ($16), which is just like it sounds; the Chili Relleno Burger ($14) with a beer-battered chili relleno on top; and the Road Rage Jerk Burger ($14), with a Caribbean-jerk-infused pork patty. You can also custom-make your own with a number of options and substitutions including a miso ginger tofu patty, an “Impossible Burger” (vegan patty), or an elk burger patty. Gluten-free buns are also available. According to the menu, all of the beef is local, grass-fed and organic.
My companion opted for the Drive By Club ($11). It’s on a croissant and includes turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, sprouts and garlic aioli. He remarked that the croissant was a nice touch for the bread and the turkey was nicely shaved very thin the way he likes it, but if he orders it again, he’ll get it without the sprouts (personal preference) or the aioli (too oily, he said). He’ll also ask for the bacon to be crisper, and he might add cheese.
For those wanting a larger meal rather than a salad or sandwich, there is a small selection of entrees, including a ribeye ($22), Fish-n-Chips ($14) and Pan-Seared Salmon ($18).
On my scale of 1-5 forks, I give the atmosphere 4.5 forks, and if the weather had been nicer during our visit, the garage doors may have been open and we could have enjoyed the large patio with its amazing views. For value, I give 4 forks. I think some of the prices are a big high, but then again, the portions are very large.
I give the service 4.5 forks, and I’m going to give the food 4 forks. That’s mostly because of my undercooked burger (I know, they would have fixed it, but they should know what medium means) and also because of the weird, not-great fries. Plus, I went back a few days after this visit to finally try the much-raved-about Peach Cobb Salad, and I was disappointed. There was so much lettuce that it felt like a frustrating game of hunt-for-the-bacon-and-pecans.
Overall, I was happy with every aspect of this visit, and I will definitely be back. It’s a great place to hang out, the people are friendly, and the views can’t be beat.
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