I have extremely low expectations. Not in a sad way, it’s just that I would prefer to be pleasantly surprised over massively disappointed. Surely this stems back to my abandonment issues or something, but I haven’t had time to get to that yet with my therapist. Here is a list of what I look for when I am reviewing a restaurant:
1.) tasty food
That’s it. If the service is amazing, I might mention it. If things are creative and unique, I’ll appreciate it, but I also have no qualms about eating delicious food off of a paper plate in my lap while sitting in a broken lawn chair. I’m not fancy or pretentious; I’m awkward and forgiving. All of this to say that I’m not asking for much—give me something decent and we’ll be cool. You would have to serve day old roadkill for me to write a one star review. That’s (partly) why I’m giving Dungeons & Drafts two.
A few things happen when you serve beer in a metal mug (or flagon or stein or whatever you want to call it):
1.) You feel super special serving beverages out of something other than glass.
2.) You allow the drinker of the beverage a fantastic yet still anonymous photo op.
3.) The beer tastes like metal.
Maybe that doesn’t bug you. Maybe you don’t take that sleeping pill where a metal taste is the main side effect. But I do. This is unfortunate because I ordered Snowbank’s Moon Arete ($5.50) and I know it was far too delicious to have the idea of sucking pennies come to mind while I was drinking it. Yet onward I charged. I may not be considered a nerd, but some of my closest friends are and they embrace Dungeons & Drafts like the bully-free haven it is. I was not going to be a brat of a guest in this self-proclaimed geek utopia. I would treat it with the respect that it deserves.
With that in mind, I ordered The Standard Helm ($7.99). I even ordered it by it’s given name instead of asking for the Grilled Mac and Cheese Sandwich. I saved the eye rolling I usually do over restaurants naming items something stupid instead of what they are, for another time. When in Rome and all that. A “grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with creamy macaroni and cheese for double the cheesy deliciousness,” how on earth could this be bad? It’s two of my favorite things in the world. (And you can add bacon or hummus or spinach and artichoke if you’d like, but don’t.) You know that saying about how there’s no such thing as bad pizza or bad sex? Well, there is and we all need to come to terms with that. There is also a really simple way to ruin two of the greatest loves of my life, it turns out.
It’s never occurred to me to make a mac & cheese stuffed grilled cheese sandwich, but if I was going to, I imagine I would start with the creamiest, cheesiest mac & cheese I could find. I would build the grilled cheese with a few different types of cheese slices—maybe something sharp to cut through and another one that gives it that melty pull-away-from-your-mouth-while-cheese-is still-attached effect. I love that effect. Then I would put all of this on a fantastic bread—something hearty enough to hold it together but with a chewy middle and a solid base note of flavor. And then I would toast the hell out of it. I’d make that bread the delicious crunchiness you had to get through to reward your pallet with the cheesy goodness inside. But that’s just me.
What they do appears to be a Kraft single on Wonderbread with a disgusting, congealed mac & cheese-like-substance thrown together and placed on a panini maker until it’s lukewarm and devoid of flavor. More importantly if this review does anything, I hope it serves to introduce Dungeons & Drafts to the concept of salt. (Salt, meet Dungeons & Drafts…..Dungeons & Drafts, Salt. Now, get busy. Or at least exchange pleasantries.) They have clearly never heard of salt’s powers and since you can’t find it on your table either, you’re left completely without. I want to be clear here: it’s Not.In.Anything. It’s not even on the fries. But let’s talk about those fries, shall we?
When I ordered, I asked the server what she suggested for a side. This made her extremely nervous, poor dear. She stammered about the kitchen just recently getting a fryer and that most people are ordering the fries now. Works for me—what’s not to like about French Fries? They even just call them fries on the menu so already we were at least in friendly territory. A fair amount of fries arrived on my metal plate in some sort of curly fashion. Maybe a guy in the kitchen gets creative every morning with his potato cutting duties. Maybe they come off the Sysco truck that way now. Who knows, and honestly, who cares because cute as the shape may have been, a French Fry without salt is just a Sad Potato. And life is too short to eat sad potatoes. Soggy, they sat next to my depressing sandwich like two toddlers sent to the corner to think about what they did. While crying and snotty-nosed and looking especially pathetic. The difference of course is that when you send a kid to the corner, you usually break down and let them out with a hug and a Kleenex because you love them. I felt no sympathy for my lunch, so in the proverbial corner my sad meal sat, whimpering, desperate, and empty of anything you could even vaguely consider tastiness.
For my dining companion on my first visit, I brought the nerdiest nerd of all the nerds I know just in case there was some Star Trek quiz you had to pass to get in the door. Since he had been there before several times, he was excited to order the Smoked Turkey Leg which I guess used to be the special. However they recently overhauled their menu and no longer serve turkey legs. This took all of the jokes I had preplanned for watching him eat a turkey leg completely out of the equation. Thrown-off by this change (which has still not been updated on their website), he also asked the server what she recommended. Bless her heart, she was not prepared for us. Even though we were the only ones there. In the entire place. For lunch. On a Sunday. Somehow the two of them came to the conclusion of a Mix and Match Slider Plate ($3.50 each, buy 3 and get a free side). The stupid names he opted for were the Mace, the Quarterstaff, and the Longsword. Now, maybe these names mean something to you. Maybe you can even deduct what was on these sliders based on these stupid names. But I can’t so I’ll just tell you that it was a beer brat, a buffalo sausage, and a Philly cheesesteak. For his free side, he too ordered the Sad Potato.
His sliders were fine. The buffalo sausage had a little heat, the brat one was dry, and the cheesesteak was probably the best of all three, though it’s kind of like picking the best way to die—death comes all the same.
There are a few basic procedures for Feasting Fort Collins, one of them being that I visit a place at least twice before I write a formal review. While I have only been writing this column since September, this was the first time I considered lying about my second visit. I wasn’t certain I could stomach it again, pun of course intended. And not wanting to go alone, I hated the idea of forcing someone to go with me knowing full well the end result. Enter my forth ever Tinder date, JP, who we will go ahead and call JP because unlike Dungeons & Drafts, I have only the best of things to say about him.
JP and I started our amazing first date somewhere
better else and when it was clear that he was going to be my Chosen One, I suggested he eat plenty and get a good buzz going to survive our next stop. I happened to be having a great hair day and wore my cute boots and I feel that helped my cause when I explained to him how this was going to go down. We arrived on Bingo Night because of course we did. I took the pleasure of ordering JP a Butterbeer ($8.99) and myself a Carmel Apple Seasonal Mimosa ($6.50) while he manned our free Bingo cards. How can you screw-up alcohol? I mean, really? I get that adding pumpkin to perfectly good vodka is going to be a serious downgrade but those are both food groups so in theory, it should still work. It did not. I NEVER leave a half-finished drink—no man or drink left behind, that’s what always I say. I left two drinks behind because I couldn’t talk the man I didn’t leave behind into anything more than a sip of each. The Mimosa had something floating in it and I don’t mean pulp or a chunk of fruit that would maybe make sense. The Butterbeer tasted like flat, bad cream soda with a vile amount Readywhip. And this isn’t even the worst of it.
I want to take a second and mention the lovely server on this visit. She couldn’t have been more kind or fun. I’m a lot to take and not everyone knows what to do with that. If we all walked around with warning labels mine would read: “I’M SORRY! BUT THIS IS MY PERSONALITY!” She handled this, and me, like a pro. She spoke with pep and authority. She loves the place she works and stands by their offerings, which means she is either a great liar or is eating off an entirely different employee-only menu. But she was delightful in her flannel shirt with her gorgeous octopus tattoo. If this review is like breaking up with a boyfriend, this paragraph is my heartfelt attempt to say that I hope we can still be friends.
Having to actually order food, I scanned the menu for what seemed least likely to be fucked up. The Thief ($8.99) “house made pull apart bread stuffed with bacon, garlic, and cheddar cheese,” comes with a choice of dipping sauce from a list of 8 or 12 or some other number that is way too many bad options. I went with ranch that I prayed came out of a bottle and was kept in the fridge. Bread, cheese, and bacon…..how do you fuck that up, I ask you? Well, and this is gonna hurt, you serve the bacon half cooked. And you don’t let those same cheap cheese slices warm-up enough to fully melt. This also keeps the bacon cold and confuses you into thinking you ordered carpaccio.
You likely don’t know me IRL. You don’t know that I would never intentionally hurt someone’s feelings. You don’t know that I’ve not once snuck out the bathroom window on even the worst of dates. You don’t know that I give back every single t-shirt after a break-up, even the really, really comfortable one that I still want to sleep in. You don’t know that I truly feel bad writing all of this even though it’s completely honest. But I do.
My two trips to Dungeons & Drafts were zero star experiences. But I have to give at least one, and I feel like for this type of establishment, getting a one star review would be like a badge of honor. Outsiders love that shit and fuck The Man anyway, amirite? So by default, and perhaps a little because of the sweet blond server that was working last night, I present to you a two star review.
But for the love of god, go for the distinct environment and good service. And if you absolutely have to eat something, use the kind of precaution you normally save for life changing decisions. Because it just might be.
Dungeons & Drafts
1624 South Lemay Ave. #6
Parking: Strip Mall Parking.
Healthy Options? No.
Recent Health Inspection: Good.